GCSE English Language Revision: Basic Literary Terms: M-R

4th April 2017

GCSE English Language and Literature Revision

Basic Literary Terms: M-R


‘Literary term’ is the overarching description for the words used specifically in English literature and language writing. Consider these words in a dictionary of their own, which you can use to describe and give meaning to what you read. They help us to explain the techniques used in poetry, literature and in non-fiction writing.


A METAPHOR is when we describe a word by comparing it to another.

e.g. ‘I’m in a sea of trouble’ or ‘life is a roller coaster’ or ‘all the world’s a stage’


A NARRATOR is the character or voice of the person who tells the story.


A NOUN is the name for a person, place or thing.

e.g.Lucy, Barcelona or a tea-cup


ONOMATOPOEIA is a word which sounds like its meaning.

e.g. boom, meow, buzz, honk, moo, clank, zip ‘it came down with a thud’


An OXYMORON is when two contradictory terms are put together for effect.

e.g. they were ‘alone together’, he’s a ‘big baby, or it’s like the ‘living dead’


A PARADOX is when a statement contradicts itself.

e.g. ‘I can resist anything but temptation’, Oscar Wilde


PERSONIFICATION is when we give human traits to something which is not human.

e.g. ‘the bossy cat walked around the room like a King about to give out his orders’. ‘The sky looked sad with rainy tears’.


A PLOT means the main events that happen in the story, which give it shape and frame.


A PUN gives a word a multiple meaning.

e.g ‘my friend tells me bird puns, well toucan play that game!’


RYTHYM is found in poetry just like the lyrics or beat in a song.

Unstressed syllables are shorter and stressed ones are long. When different length syllables are placed in a certain order, we can create a regular rhythm which helps writing to flow and be more memorable.


RHYME is the repetition of similar sounds.

e.g. sing, ring, bring, thing

We often use rhyme at the end of lines to make a song or poem easier to remember.





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