What is Rhetorical Figure main rhetorical figures and examples

Rhetorical Figure

Rhetorical figure or literary figures are language resources that use words in an original or infrequent way to enhance their meaning or enhance their inner beauty . Their purpose is to highlight an idea, persuade, embellish a text or arouse an emotion in the reader, and they are widely used in the literary field for the creation of original writings.

These resources move away from the effective communicative way, that is, from the conventional way in which a specific idea is communicated, and pursue more expressive, elaborate, artistic or powerful ways of transmitting a message. There are many types of rhetorical figures, which differ from each other according to their structure and the way in which they use language. Some of the most representative are the metaphor , the simile , the hyperbole and the personification .

Although rhetorical figures are extremely common in literary language (in works such as poetry and dramaturgy ), it is also possible to use them in everyday speech since they give communication a certain style and originality .

Types of rhetorical figure

There are two main types of figures of speech: figures of speech of diction and figures of speech of thought.

  • Rhetorical figures of diction . They are figures that affect the form of sentences or words (both their spelling and their sounds), which often affects their meaning as well. They can be of four types:
    • Figures of transformation or metaplasms . They are figures that use words in a way that would be commonly incorrect, because their spelling or pronunciation is altered , although their meaning does not change. Some are: prosthesis, epenthesis, apocope.
    • Repeating Figures . They are rhetorical figures in which a certain sound is repeated twice or more, which can be a word, syllable or phoneme. Some are: anaphora, parallelism, polysyndeton, alliteration, concatenation, pleonasm, polypote.
    • Omission figures . They are rhetorical figures in which elements of the sentence or phrase are eliminated. Some are: asyndeton, ellipsis, paralipsis.
    • Position Figures . They are rhetorical figures that consist of the alteration of the normal order of the elements of a sentence. The most representative is the hyperbaton.
    • Figures of Rhetoric of Thought . They are those figures that affect the meaning of words. They may be:
    • tropes . They are rhetorical figures that give words a figurative meaning. Some are: metaphor, hyperbole, synecdoche, irony, synesthesia, simile.
    • Logical figures . They are rhetorical figures that are linked to the logical or meaningful relationship between the ideas presented, thus generating contrasts and oppositions. Some are: oxymoron, antithesis, paradox.
    • Fictional figures . They are rhetorical figures that present imaginary events as real. Some are: personification and idolopeia.
    • Magnification Figures . They are figures that highlight certain contents or ideas of a text. Some are: expolitolio, paraphrase.
    • Accumulation Figures . They are figures that add elements that complement what has already been said. Some are: enumeration, epiphrasis, epithet.
    • Definition or description figures . They are figures that reflect in language the properties or characteristics of what they describe. Some are: etopeia, chronography, prosopography.
    • Oblique figures . They are rhetorical figures that address reality indirectly. Some are: periphrasis or circumlocution, litotes or attenuation.
    • Dialog or pathetic figures . They are rhetorical figures that appeal to the emotionality of the receiver . Some are: exclamation, rhetorical question.
    • Dialectical figures . They are rhetorical figures of an argumentative nature, which seek to convince the receiver of something. Some are: dubitatio or aporesis, correctio.

Main rhetorical figures

  • metaphor . A concept is named to refer to another with which it is related. For example: His angelic face gave me good omens.
  • hyperbole . An idea or concept is exaggerated. For example: The whole world surrendered at your feet.
  • Synecdoche . Reference is made to a part by naming the whole or vice versa. For example: The country expects you to give some explanation. In this case, the term “country” is used instead of “the citizens/inhabitants of the country”.
  • irony . It seeks to convey the opposite of what it states. For example: What great news to know that I have failed the exam!
  • synesthesia . Perceptions are associated from one sense to another. For example: His words to him smacked of betrayal.
  • simile . One element is compared with others or others. For example: He felt defeated like a soldier after a bloody battle .
  • Personification . Human features are attributed to animals or inanimate objects. For example: The sea was rabid.
  • apocope _ One or more sounds are lost at the end of the word. For example: I am able to distinguish your car in any avenue. In this case the term “car” is used instead of “automobile”.
  • Anaphora . One or several words are repeated at the beginning of a verse or statement. For example: We were brothers, we were
  • Parallelism . A certain structure is repeated. For example: Look and think, smile and love.
  • polysyndeton . Many conjunctions are used within a sentence . For example: We were going to love each other and hate each other and save each other and defeat each other.
  • alliteration _ Certain sounds are repeatedin the same sentence. For example: I want to re live and re breathe
  • concatenation . The words or phrases of two consecutive verses are chained. For example: Tempting destiny, imposed destiny, imposed by the day, tomorrow.
  • Pleonasm . The same idea is repeated to give greater strength. For example: We will look for someone to help us.
  • polypot . The same word is repeated within a verse or phrase, but changing its morphemes (such as gender, number, or verbal). For example: By giving you the desired delivery tonight we were delivered to nothing.
  • asyndeton . The conjunctions or links of an enumerationare omittedFor example: We were going to love each other, hate each other, save each other, defeat each other.
  • Ellipses . Parts of the sentence that are not fundamental to the understanding of the message are removed. For example: His son’s name is Salvador and my daughter’s is Lucila. In this case, the term “the” is replaced by “the name”.
  • Paralipsis . Some of the text is omitted, but the reader’s attention is drawn to what is omitted. For example: I will make an effort not to mention the sadness that invades me.
  • hyperbaton . The usual syntax of the sentence is altered to affect its metric or draw attention to something. For example: The autumn rain that afternoon we saw fall. In this case, the usual order of the sentence would be: We saw the autumn rain fall that afternoon.
  • Paraphrase . Own words are used to explain an idea already expressed. For example: The paraphrase of the following sentence by Winston Churchill: “An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity, a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity”, could be: For Winston Churchill, a former UK minister, an optimist, that is, one who judges things from their most positive aspects, will see opportunities even in unfavorable situations, while a pessimistic person, that is, one who judges things from their most negative aspects, will see something unfavorable even in opportunities .
  • rhetorical question . Questions are used that do not seek to be answered, but rather express an idea. For example: What is the point of all this?
  • enumeration . Several elements are named that are related to an idea already said. For example: I shared that time in the sea with shells, crabs, seagulls and albatrosses.
  • Epiphrasis . A series of secondary ideas that complement it are added to a main idea. For example: I will stay thinking about the past, what has been lived and what has been forgotten, what has been said and what has not been said.
  • epithet . Adjectives are added to emphasize the message. For example: The white snow was spilled on the roofs.
  • oxymoron . Two words with contradictory meanings are used together. For example: The dark light .
  • antithesis . Two irreconcilable ideas are opposed. For example: The night is very short for a day that became eternal.
  • paradox . An apparently illogical idea arises, but it does make sense. For example: I was poorer when I had more.
  • Etopoeia . An individual or character is described based on their moral traits. For example: He had clear objectives for him, he knew that to fight for the position of mayor he had to demonstrate the values ​​that characterized him: his tolerance , his temperance and his dedication.
  • Chronography . It describes a time or a temporary event. For example: There was no news of his son until afternoon, when the sun sank behind the mountains , the birds hid in their nests and the clocks sang his song in unison.
  • Prosopography . Physically describes a character. For example: Everyone remembers his tired look, his eyes like burning lanterns, his long legs and his generous hands.
  • Periphrasis or circumlocution . More words are used than necessary to describe an issue. For example: If you have patience you will be able to observe the king of the jungle . In this case, the term “king of the jungle” is used to refer to the lion .
  • Litotes or attenuation . A feature is affirmed by attenuating or denying its opposite. For example: It is not late to go to the party.
  • Exclamation or ecphonesis . Words are used that predispose the receiver towards an admiring emotion and that usually go between exclamation points. For example: Ooh! I didn’t expect you so early around here.
  • Dubitatio or aporesis . Doubt is expressed regarding what is said or done. For example: I’m not sure, you may have to wait a lifetime for it.
  • corrected _ A correction is added regarding what was previously said. For example: She lost you or, sorry, she wanted to lose you.
  • Expolitio . An idea is stated and then further developed. For example: The concert was great. The artists shone on stage and the orchestra dazzled the audience. Media reviews have been very positive, and the concert will be on until the end of the year.
  • idolopeia _ Something said is attributed to a deceased person. For example: We visited that museum because my father had requested it.
  • prosthesis . A phoneme is added to the beginning of a word. In this figure the meaning of the word is not altered and it is usually used to adapt terms from other languages ​​into Spanish. For example: We must think of a slogan for the brand. In this case, a prosthesis is included in the word slogan, adapted from the English term “slogan”.
  • epenthesis . One or more phonemes are added inside the word. For example: I can’t forget what you told me at the airport . In this case the term “airport” is used instead of “airport”.


  1. The soldiers arrived. The soldiers were there (anaphora).
  2. When I sleep the night comes, when I wake up the day comes (parallelism).
  3. We will have time to talk about this and that and something and that (polysyndeton).
  4. Feel the sound of silence in your sky (alliteration).
  5. Fulfill a wish , a wish first and forget you first (concatenation).
  6. She kissed him with her mouth and the crush was immediate (pleonasm).
  7. Singing a song will make them sing (polipote).
  8. In his cave he hides dreams, mysteries, memories, truths (asyndeton).
  9. She was captivated by his gaze and he by her calm (ellipse).
  10. The poet walked through the bars (hyperbaton).
  11. Walking through these streets you will see passers-by, open shops, cats and street vendors (enumeration).
  12. For you I feel a platonic love, it is pure, unique, good, impossible (epiphrasis).
  13. The salty sea water healed his wounds (epithet).
  14. You had a cold fire inside that pierced my skin (oxymoron).
  15.  Before receiving the guests, he passed a broom across the living room floor (periphrasis). In this case, “passed a broom” is used instead of “swept.”
  16. With no little effort I am here (attenuation).
  17. How long have we gone without seeing each other! (exclamation).
  18. Will this be our mission? (rhetorical question).
  19. Perhaps it is the only possible solution (dubitatio).
  20. Your indecision is going to kill me ! (hyperbole).
  21. Thanks for keeping your promise! (irony)
  22. I could feel the noise of the black of your eyes going through my pupils (synesthesia).
  23. His temper is soft as a spring breeze (simile).
  24. The night came stealthily and woke the girl up with her silence (personification).

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