Mammoth Memory


English language exam language features pretending simile metaphor analogy hyperbole personification anthropomorphism idiom oxymoron imagery euphemism irony allusion symbolism satire

“Pretending” covers many language features, such as metaphor (saying an object or a person is something else) and personification (pretending an object or animal has human qualities).

We use this heading because so many of the language features, or literary devices, used by writers are a kind of pretence. For instance, metaphor is pretending that a person or a thing is something else, to highlight a particular feature of that person or thing. Personification is pretending that an animal or object has a human quality.

Here are the main language features that go under the Pretending heading:


  • Simile (likening one thing to another, e.g. “She looked like a startled rabbit”). PRETEND to be like/as something else.
  • Metaphor (like simile, but without using “like” or “as”, e.g. “They were ships passing in the night”). PRETEND to be something else.
  • Analogy (a comparison in which an idea or a thing is compared to something familiar to aid understanding.) PRETEND to be something else.
  • Hyperbole (exaggeration for effect, e.g. “I’ve told you a million times before”, meaning lots of times, but not really a million.) PRETEND it’s bigger, faster, etc.
  • Personification (attributing a human quality to a thing or idea, e.g.: the sun beckoned me out to the golden meadows.) PRETEND it’s human.
  • Anthropomorphism (humanisation of animals and, sometimes, objects – like personification, but a more extreme case where, for instance, animals practically become human. Winnie the Pooh is a good example.) PRETEND it’s human.
  • Idiom (expressions that have another meaning apart from the literal one, e.g. “Over the moon,” “See the light”.) PRETEND it’s one thing but mean that it’s another.
  • Oxymoron (contradictory terms, e.g. deafening silence, bitter sweet.) PRETEND it’s something it can’t be.
  • Imagery (visually descriptive or figurative language, e.g. “The wild gusts of cold wind pierced her body.”) PRETEND in a visual way.
  • Euphemism (using a mild word or expression instead of a harsher one, e.g. saying someone has “passed away” rather than “died”.) PRETEND it’s less hard-hitting than it is.
  • Irony (stating the opposite of what is true for humorous effect or emphasis, e.g. commenting on someone who puts 10p in a charity collection box: “Don’t be over-generous!”) PRETEND it’s the opposite.
  • Allusion (expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly, e.g. “I was surprised his nose wasn’t growing like Pinocchio’s”, meaning he was lying Pinocchio is a character from a children’s story whose nose grows longer when he tells lies.) PRETEND it’s something we all know and understand.
  • Symbolism (the use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities, as in: “He is a rock”, which symbolises he is strong and dependable.) PRETEND it’s something else with a distinct quality.
  • Satire (use of irony, exaggeration and other features to ridicule people’s shortcomings.) PRETEND it’s silly.
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