Figures of Speech: 40 Ways to Improve your Writing
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Figurative speech plays an important role in our ability to communicate with one another. It helps create compelling narratives, and evoke emotion in readers.
With this in mind, this periodic table graphic by Visual Communication Guy groups the 40 different figures of speech into two distinct categories—schemes and tropes.
What’s the difference between the two, and how can they help improve your writing?
Types of Schemes
In linguistics, a scheme is language that plays with sentence structure to make a sentence smoother, or even more persuasive, using syntax, word order, or sounds.
Here are four different ways that schemes fiddle with sentence structure.
This is especially important when trying to make a sentence smoother. A good example of balance is parallelism, which is when you use the same grammatical form in at least two parts of a sentence.
- Not parallelism: “She likes reading, writing, and to paint on the weekends.”
- Parallelism: “She likes reading, writing, and painting on the weekends.”
Changing the position of words can have an impact on the way a sentence is understood. For instance, anastrophe is the deliberate reordering of words in a sentence to either emphasize a certain point, or distinguish a character as different.
- An example of anastrophe: “The greatest teacher, failure is.” -Yoda
Omission and/or Inclusion
Omissions and inclusions are useful in order to build suspense or add emotional expression to text. For example, an ellipsis is a form of punctuation that uses three dots (…) to either replace a word in a sentence or indicate a break in speech or an incomplete thought.
- Example of an ellipsis: “I was thinking of calling her Susie. Well, at least I was until…never mind. Forget I said anything.”
Similar to the other types of schemes, repetition allows you to emphasize a certain point you want the reader to pay attention to, but it’s also used to create rhymes and poetry.
A well-known literary device, alliteration uses the same consonant sound at the start of each word in a sentence. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same letter, so long as the sound is the same.
- A popular example is this nursery rhyme: “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”
- Another example: Phillip’s feet. (different letter, but same sound)
Types of Tropes
While schemes play around with the mechanics of a sentence, tropes stray from the literal or typical meanings to evoke emotion, and keep a reader engaged and interested.
Tropes help create an alternative sense of reality, using these five strategies.
These are literary devices that help paint a deeper picture of a concept, using a reference to something related, but different.
Metaphors and similes are common examples of references, but a lesser-known type of reference is a synecdoche, which is when a small part of something is used in reference to the thing as a whole.
- An example of a synecdoche: “Check out my new wheels.” (where wheels refer to a car)
Wordplay & Puns
This type of literary device plays with sounds or meaning to add depth to a sentence. For instance, a syllepsis uses one word to create parallels between two separate thoughts, while an onomatopoeia is a figure of speech that uses words (either real or made-up) or even letters to describe a sound.
- An example of a syllepsis: “When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes.” – E.B. White
- An example of an onomatopoeia: “Ding-dong” (the sound of a doorbell)
This is when someone replaces a word or thought with something else. For instance, anthimeria is the use of a word in a grammatical form it’s not generally used in, while periphrasis is when someone intentionally elaborates on a point, instead of expressing it succinctly.
- An anthimeria: “I could use a good sleep.” (Sleep is normally a verb, but here it’s used as a noun)
- Example of a periphrasis: Instead of saying, “It’s cold outside.” you say, “The temperature of the atmosphere when I exited my home this morning was quite chilly and exceptionally uncomfortable.”
Overstatement and/or Understatement
These are intentionally exaggerated, or downplayed situations that aren’t meant to be taken literally. A hyperbole is an example of an overstatement, while litotes are the opposite—deliberate understatements.
- An example of a hyperbole: I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse.
- While a litotes looks like this: It’s not rocket science.
This type of literary technique uses contradictory ideas and indirect questions for dramatic effect, or to emphasize a point. For instance, an oxymoron is when two contradictory words are used back-to-back.
- An example of an oxymoron: Act natural
Using Figures of Speech to Craft Content
First, let’s just address it…Yes, I did use alliteration in the above header, and yes, now I’m using an ellipsis in this sentence.
Because let’s face it—in the age of information overload, writing articles that are interesting and compelling to readers is a top priority for online content creators. And using figurative language is a good way to keep readers attention.
So, if you’re a content creator yourself (or simply looking to beef up your knowledge on linguistics), hopefully this graphic has helped you on that journey.
The Most Fuel Efficient Cars From 1975 to Today
This infographic lists the most fuel efficient cars over the past 46 years, including the current leader for 2023.
The Most Fuel Efficient Cars From 1975 to Today
When shopping for a new car, what is the most important factor you look for? According to Statista, it’s not design, quality, or even safety—it’s fuel efficiency.
Because of this, automakers are always looking for clever ways to improve gas mileage in their cars. Beating the competition by even the slimmest of margins can give valuable bragging rights within a segment.
In this infographic, we’ve used data from the EPA’s 2022 Automotive Trends Report to list off the most fuel efficient cars from 1975 to today.
Editor’s note: This is from a U.S. government agency, so the data shown skews towards cars sold in North America.
All of the information in the above infographic is listed in the table below. Data was only available in 5-year increments up until 2005, after which it switches to annual.
|Model Year||Make||Model||Real World Fuel Economy (mpg)||Engine Type|
From this dataset, we can identify three distinct approaches to maximizing fuel efficiency.
Prior to 2000, the best way for automakers to achieve good fuel efficiency was by downsizing. Making cars smaller (lighter) meant they could also be fitted with very small engines.
For example, the 1985 Chevrolet Sprint was rated at 49.6 MPG, but had a sluggish 0-60 time of 15 seconds.
The 2000s saw the introduction of mass-market hybrid vehicles like the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius. By including a small battery to support the combustion engine, automakers could achieve good MPGs without sacrificing so heavily on size.
While the Insight achieved better fuel economy than the Prius, it was the latter that became synonymous with the term “hybrid”. This was largely due to the Prius’ more practical 4-door design.
The following table compares annual U.S. sales figures for both models. Insight sales have fluctuated drastically because Honda has produced the model in several short spans (1999-2006, 2009-2014, 2018-2022).
|Year||Insight Sales||Prius Sales|
The Prius may have dominated the hybrid market for a long time, but it too has run into troubles. Sales have been declining since 2014, even setting historic lows in recent years.
There are several reasons behind this trend, with one being a wider availability of hybrid models from other brands. We also can’t ignore the release of the Tesla Model 3, which began shipping to customers in 2017.
We’re currently in the middle of a historic transition to electric vehicles. However, because EVs do not use fuel, the EPA had to develop a new system called MPGe (miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent).
This new metric gives us the ability to compare the efficiency of EVs with traditional gas-powered cars. An underlying assumption of MPGe is that 33.7 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity is comparable to the energy content of a gallon of fuel.
The most fuel efficient car you can buy today is the 2023 Lucid Air, which achieves 140 MPGe. Close behind it is the 2023 Tesla Model 3 RWD, which is rated at 132 MPGe.
Check out this page to see the EPA’s top 10 most efficient vehicles for 2023.
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