Figurative Language in Media

Music, Movie, Literature, Ads, and More (Grade 12)

Figurative Language

Authors employ figurative language in order to better communicate what they attempt to express to the readers.

Types of Figurative Language

Three types of figurative language include simile, metaphor, and personification.

A simile compares two seemingly unlike things using "like" or "as"; a metaphor compares two seemingly unlike things without using "like" or "as" so it is a more direct comparison. Personification occurs when someone gives human characteristics to something that is not human.


Task: Figurative Language Relevant Today

Figurative language is present all around you. Not only do authors apply it to their writings in books, but it also remains quite common in songs, movies, advertisements, and more. Your task consists of finding ten relevant examples of figurative language in the world around you today (while following copyright guidelines). You will place these ten examples in a Smore (similar to this one). You must provide the example (quote only), the type of figurative language, and the citation.

Copyright Guidelines to Follow for Task

You need to follow copyright and fair use guidelines while completing this project.

You must only use a small portion of the work (only the small part of the work that you are using to show a relevant example of figurative language). You do not want to copy the entire work. You also must cite the the source from where you obtain the example of figurative language. You also do not want to choose anything or include anything that could in any way take away from the ability of the original author to make money on his/her work. You must consider the purpose of the original work, and you cannot take away from it. You need to use it for the purpose of this task (which should be different from the purpose of the original work). You can transform it so that it is in the context of this activity. Make sure you cite your sources.

Copyright Explanation and the Works to which it Applies

Copyright is basically a way of protecting an author's original work. It prevents others from taking that work and claiming it as their own, or from having a negative economic impact on the original author. It basically states that anything a person creates belongs to that person (even if it does not have a copyright symbol). In order to use something that another person created, you need to follow fair use law (which helps when using works for educational purposes). Copyright laws apply to all works. They apply to books, music, movies, and basically anything that anyone creates.


Four Factors Explained in More Detail

An easy way to determine if something falls under fair use (which allows you to use someone else's work for educational purposes) is by applying the four factors test. The four factors of copyright include considering the purpose of the work and how you are using it. In other words, have you transformed or changed the work enough so that it has value added to it and is it functioning for a different purpose? You must also ask about the work's nature. If you are sharing it with the class or benefiting a large group (while not taking away from the economic benefit of the original author, then you pass this section of the four factor test. The third factor to consider is how much of the work you are using. You should not take a great amount of the work or the entire work. You should only use the small portion that you need for the specific activity at hand. For example, in this project, you should not quote or copy the lyrics to an entire song. Instead, you should just quote the small part that exemplifies the figurative language example you are choosing. The fourth factor you should consider is the economic impact, or the impact on the author's ability to make money off of his/her work. If what you are doing by using the work will not take away from the author's ability to make money, then you probably pass this fourth factor. If it will compete with the original author or prevent him/her from making money, then it does not pass this fourth factor.


Examples of Fair Use and Four Factors Applied

If I want to provide examples of figurative language from songs, I do not quote the entire song. I only quote the part that exemplifies the figurative language. For example, in Katy Perry's song "Roar", I would not copy the entire song. Instead I would say in Katy Perry's song "Roar", when she sings "You're gonna hear me roar", she is employing a metaphor comparing herself to a lion, being strong and facing her fears. Also in Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain", I would not quote or copy the entire song. Instead I would quote the line, "Set fire to the rain" and explain how it exemplifies metaphor comparing how strong she felt when pushing the other person away because you can't literally "set fire to the rain".



Transformativeness in Detail and Application to Your Task

With transformativeness, you must understand the original usage. For example, are you using the original work exactly the same way as the original author did? Or, are you taking part of that original work and transforming it into something new for a new purpose or new usage? Have you changed or transformed it by giving it new meaning? Did you add value and/or meaning to the original work by developing additional meaning and/or looks to it? This is what transformativeness means. If you are using it for a different purpose and adding to it through meaning or concept development, then you are transforming it. For example, when you take a small portion of a song (like three or four words) and use it to exemplify figurative language today, are you transforming it by adding meaning to it?


Methods for Citing and/or Attributing Sources

After you determine what you can use that falls under fair use through the four factors test and transformativeness, you still need to cite and give attribution to the original author. More than one accepted method of citing exists. Some teachers prefer MLA; others prefer APA. For this activity, since it is your first one, you can list the url below the the information that comes from that source (as I did in the examples above). In the future, however, you will apply MLA format to some activities and APA to others so that you are familiar with both. To get a head start on MLA and APA, visit:

At the bottom left corner of this website, you can click on MLA or APA to learn more about those accepted methods of citations.