Language techniques every student must know

The English language serves as a vast reserve of devices, terms and techniques to enhance the quality of a write-up. Naturally, students are often encouraged to become familiar with Literary techniques. That said, these literary techniques can be tough specifically because of the sheer volume they come in.

language techniques examples

In fact, you
may become dumbfounded trying to decipher the definition of each of these literary
conventions. On that note, we have created a precise list of features of all
the language techniques, along with pertinent examples to go with each one.


Alliteration is
a technique that involves the application of multiple words, each beginning
with a similar sounding letter. This figure of speech is often discovered in
marketing content, newspaper headlines and branding because it’s memorable. It
helps in retaining the concept in the minds of the audience.

In a literary
context, it’s often employed in poetry to express a specific feeling. The author generally draws the reader’s
attention on a certain section of a text by giving it a certain rhythm and by
applying specific connotation. 

The following are some pertinent examples of this literary

  1. O wild west wind thou breath of Autumn’s being
  2. Tiger, Tiger, burning


A word or
phrase that comes with an underlying meaning or provokes thoughts for a deeper
understanding has “connotations.” Writers often employ certain terms or phrases
because they realise that readers will connect them with other things, and they
can enhance their writing with many insightful layers. Also, words may have
negative or positive connotations based on the cultural, social, and personal
experiences of different individuals. 

For instance,
the word “white” comes with the connotations of peace, purity, good,
cleanliness, and innocence.


The origin of
this term is traced back to a Greek word that means “over-casting.” It’s
a figure of speech that emphasises on the exaggeration of ideas.

It is a method
that we tend to use in our day-to-day speeches. For instance, when you chance
upon an acquaintance after a long time, you say, “It’s been ages since we’ve
met.” Now you may not have met since only a couple of days but the use of the
term “ages” exaggerates this statement to emphasise wait. Hyperbole is an
unrealistic exaggeration to highlight the real situation.


Litotes originates from a Greek word meaning “simple.” It’s a literary technique that involves presenting an understatement through the use of double negatives. While understatement may seem a peculiarly British trait, the application of litotes is rather usual in a number of European languages. In fact, it was a prominent feature of Old English poems. 

For instance, the expression “not too bad” in place of “very good” indicates an understatement. It’s also a double negative statement, which conveys a positive idea by countering the opposite idea. Similarly, saying “I am not as youthful as I used to be,” to avoid saying “I am old” is another example. Litotes is an intentional use of understatement that creates an ironic effect.



fallacy is a literary convention in which human emotions are designated to
different aspects of nature, like the weather. For example, the weather can be
employed to reflect an individual’s mood, with rain or dark clouds present in a
narrative that involves sorrow. It’s a variant of personification, which
is another extremely prevalent literary device in English literature.

Pathetic fallacy is often connected only with the
attribution of human emotions to different elements of nature (sun, wind, sky,
etc.), while personification is adopted in a much broader context.

In Robert Browning’s Porphyria’s Lover, the narrator talks about the wind as sullen and destroying trees out of anger.

The sullen wind
was soon awake, 
It tore the elm-tops down for spite, 
and did its worst to vex the lake


An aside is a
technique that has been applied in plays for a long time. This involves a
character directly talking to the audience (without the other characters within
the narrative being able to hear). It’s a part of the story, generally kept
brief. It’s often applied in a comical sense to gossip or make a comment about
another character without their knowledge.

Some films also
make use of this method, with a character staring directly into the camera to
talk to the audience. This is popularly known as ‘breaking the fourth

A common
example of this literary convention is present in Hamlet.
It is spoken by the title character about Claudius, “A little
more than kin, and less than kind.”


This literary device refers to words that replicate the
natural sounds of a thing (both living or non-living). It presents a sound
effect that imitates the object described, which makes the description more
appealing and attractive.

“Gushing stream” can be a pertinent example, and so are most
of the words we use to describe animal noises, such as “hiss,” “meow,” etc.
Another instance could be words related to collisions, which often sound like
various noises connected with two things colliding, e.g. “thud” or “clash” or

Here’s a good example of onomatopoeia.

  1. I lay awake to the
    sound of rustling leaves.
  2. The stack of papers
    fell to the ground with a loud thud.


Allegory is
a language technique in which abstract principles and theories are
defined in terms of figures, characters, and events. It can be adopted
in prose and poetry to narrate a story. The objective behind using
this is to explain a principle or a thought.

Writers employ
allegory to incorporate multiple layers of meanings to their works. Allegory
lends a multidimensional form to their stories and characters. This way, they
stand for something broader in meaning than what they literally stand for.

This example from the is a perfect specimen of an allegory. 

Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegorical representation of the spiritual journey.



Irony is
a technique in which words are used in a way that their intended
meaning differs from the original meaning of the words. It could also be a
situation that ends up in a different way than is usually anticipated. Simply
put, it is a distinction between appearance and reality.

On the basis of
this understanding, Irony can be categorised as situation and verbal.
Verbal irony denotes what one does not mean. For instance, as a response to a
foolish idea, we often say, “What an excellent idea!” This is verbal irony.
Situational irony can be understood with this example, “A man is amused at the
misfortune of another, even when the same misfortune may fall upon him.”

The following is a pertinent example.

He enjoyed his
vacation about as much as a root canal.


Now that you have gained a little perspective on these techniques, make sure to implement them appropriately within your written pieces and assignments. That way you will be able to impress your professor to award you some brownie points.


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