You are here: Home » Social Sciences » Figurative & Evaluative Language for Writers

Figurative & Evaluative Language for Writers

Figurative and Evaluative language can be used to expand on definitions and explanations to illustrate a passage in more colorful terms. They invite the reader to a topic from many angles and get a clearer picture of the topic in their head.

By Joan Whetzel

Good storytelling begins with a solid idea, along with excellent organization and convincing examples and exposition.  Juicy verbs and nouns paint the picture told by the story help to sustain the reader’s attention. Figurative and evaluative language adds colorful flourishes to the story, turning what may be a good story into a piece of writing that keeps readers hooked, inviting them back for more of the writer’s words.  


Figurative and Evaluative Language Defined

Figurative language a word or phrase with another word or phrase. It uses words in ways that redefines them, changes their meaning, provides a definition that’s unlike their actual explanation. The word blue, for example, changes from a color to meaning sad or depressed and the phrase “like a greased pig on oil” means something slippery, or something slips by quickly, with no friction to slow it and nothing to stop it. evaluative language allows writers to offer up their opinions on a topic, in other words, editorializing. This opining may be intentional or it may be inadvertent. This evaluative language is considered sound reasoning when the writer’s opinions are based on fact and firm arguments rather than on suppositions. The writer has evaluated the words used by other writers and is giving his or her own interpretation of their meaning.


Figurative Devices

Figurative language has at its disposal, a multitude of  strategies to elucidate a writer’s ideas and stir the reader’s imagination. These figures of speech are used in figurative language:  similes, metaphors, personification, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, idioms, and symbolism.


  • Similes use the words “like” or “as” to compare one set of words with another, one idea with another. Example: Jennifer’s mom always  moved through her day, busy as a bee.
  • Metaphors compares two or more things share nothing in common, without using the words like or as, as with similes. Example, Jack can eat anything he wants because he’s a string bean.
  • Personification gives human qualities to animals or inanimate objects. Example: When the summer rains finally began, the drops danced on the roofs and kicked up steam on the street outside her house.
  • Hyperbole humorously exaggerates in order to make appoint. Example: He gave the policeman the slip, escaping faster than a greased pig on oil.
  • Onomatopoeia describes an action by replicating the sound they make. Examples: the rain pinged against the window; the bacon sizzled in the pan; the wind rustled through the leaves.
  • Idiomsare expressions people use, that  are generally used only in specific regions. Example: People living in Texas say “ya’ll” when referring to 2 or more people.
  • Symbolism uses specific nouns to stand for something else entirely. Example: The American flag represents patriotism, freedom, and love of country.


Evaluative Devices

Evaluative language is used to write book reports as well as book, movie, or theater reviews. Writers use evaluative language to describe what they read or saw without giving away the whole story. Writers let their readers know how they felt about what they experienced while reading the book or watching the movie or play so as to convince their readers that the book, movie or play was or was not worth their time.



Figurative and evaluative language improves writing by making it more colorful. Figurative language invites readers to expand their imagination and see things in wilder, grander, more vibrant ways,  rather than taking things literally. Evaluative language encourages readers to consider the writer’s viewpoint about something and make the assumption that the writer is actually an expert about the topic he or she is writing about. On the other hand, the readers can take the writer’s opinion with a grain of salt and go out and investigate the topic, book, play or movie for themselves and make up their own mind. Either way, they’ve gotten just enough of a taste of what the writer is discussing to decide one way or the other, whether they want to investigate further or not. Both of these writing techniques have their place. Both can make an author’s writing better.



Bibliography What is Figurative Language? Downloaded 2/14/2012.


Fallacy Files. Loaded Words.  Downloaded 2/14/2012.


Word IQ.  Literal and Figurative Language – Definition.  Downloaded 2/14/2012.  

Kids Konnect. Figurative Language. Downloaded 2/14/2012.


O’Regan, David. University of Kansas. Useful Phrases for use in Evaluative Writing. Downloaded 2/14/2012.


Your Dictionary. Figurative Language. Downloaded 2/14/2012.


The Australian Curriculum. Evaluative Language. Downloaded 2/14/2012.


Literacy Works. Persuasive Texts for NAPLAN 5 – Evaluative Language.

Downloaded 2/14/2012.

Liked it
Powered by Powered by Triond