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What are literary terms?Dear students and teachers, I am one confused freshman trying...

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misslady | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 4, 2009 at 6:48 PM via web

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What are literary terms?

Dear students and teachers,

I am one confused freshman trying to get my head in school and to stay focused, but i can not do that if i do not know what literary terms are. Please if you could leave a definitioin or 2 clearly explaining what literary terms are. Thank you

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 5, 2009 at 8:00 AM (Answer #2)

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There are dozens of literary terms.  You will need to be more specific.  I have given you a link below to the literary handbook here at enotes.  Use this to look up specific literary terms such as:  metaphor, allusion, archetype, symbol, simile, irony, etc.  Knowing this tool and where to find it will help you very much.  There are also book versions of this--I recommend the Holman and Harmon Handbook.  It's an excellent portable reference to just about every literary term you will need with definitions, examples, and illustrations.

http://www.enotes.com/literary-terms

http://www.enotes.com/literary-terms/complete-index

Good Luck!

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drmonica | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted October 5, 2009 at 11:03 AM (Answer #3)

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I won't repost the eNotes links to the guide to literary terms that amy-lepore has provided, but I will say that there are certain terms that are frequently referenced in freshman English classrooms. These are terms that it would probably help you to memorize and become familiar with, so you don't have to look them up constantly. Here is a short list to get you started:

  1. simile
  2. metaphor
  3. alliteration
  4. allusion

Good luck with your English class and the rest of your freshman schedule! You can do it.

 

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted October 23, 2009 at 3:36 PM (Answer #4)

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What are literary terms?

Dear students and teachers,

I am one confused freshman trying to get my head in school and to stay focused, but i can not do that if i do not know what literary terms are. Please if you could leave a definitioin or 2 clearly explaining what literary terms are. Thank you

Literary terms, though there are many as has been stated, are the words by which students and scholars of literature identify the techniques that a writer has used in crafting a literary work.

For instance, if I write a poem with the line "Sybil's syllables sounded silly," you would choose the literary term "alliteration" to describe the technique I used in constructing the line. Alliteration means the reptition of the same sound in words close to each other as in "Sybil's syllables sounded silly."

Literary terms are not anything the author writes but rather the language that analysts of literature use so that we can discuss in depth and with mutual intelligibility the words the author did write. Literary terms let us describe and debate what authors have constructed (an epic or a lyric?) and how they have constructed it (blank verse? stream of consciousness?) and the parts that are in it (conflict or climax?).

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 9, 2010 at 8:04 PM (Answer #5)

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Any time people are studying something, it's important to have a common vocabulary with which to speak.  Doctors and nurses, for example, use medical vocabulary as a kind of shorthand--and it's effective because they all know the terminology.  Knowing and understanding literary terms makes discussions about literature and writing easier because everyone understands the terminology. 

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 31, 2012 at 1:31 AM (Answer #6)

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The most important thing for freshman to understand about literary terms are that this special language isn't like a foreign language. Literary terms are tools meant to help us talk about literature. They are all about holding a conversation, a skill which all freshman already have, and though literary terms are somewhat specialized they are not necessarily difficult concepts.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 7, 2012 at 4:40 AM (Answer #7)

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There are many literary terms, but the thing to remember is that basically they are used to describe literature.  For example, I use the word "plot" to describe a story, and I use the word "simile" to describe a comparison using "like" or "as" to compare two unlike things.  A good idea is to get and print out a list, such as the one used here.

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