what is rhetorical figure »definition and concept

Figures of speech, also called figures of speech, represent a different way of using language. The purpose of these figures is to create a more original, more literary communicative style.

In Spanish there are more than a hundred figures of speech and many of them are variants of the same idea. On the other hand, it must be borne in mind that all of them are based on a general idea or structure, that is, a subject, a verb and a predicate. The rhetorical figures start from this rule but with the intention of breaking it in some sense.

Classification of rhetorical figures

They can be grouped into the following categories: phonetic or repetition figures, of significance, of accumulation, of position, logical and fictional figures, dialogic figures and stylistic figures. Here are some of them.

Phonetic or repetition figures

Alliteration is normally used in poetic language to establish a certain rhyme (a well-known example would be the famous tongue twister tres tristes tigres or the repetitive effect of sounds in some verses by Miguel Hernández that, the winged souls of roses)

Of significance

In the metaphor, a relationship of similarity is established between two concepts and therefore it is a comparison (for example, soul of steel, heart of glass or face of an angel, heart of a devil).

The metonymy designates an idea with the name of another (I am going to have a Rioja or my aunt turned 80 years old).

Hyperbole, antithesis, simile, paradox or oxymoron are other literary figures of significance.


A significant example is the epithet, which is based on the use of unnecessary adjectives (white snow or thorny brambles). On the other hand, the idea of ​​accumulation is intended to create a climax effect (he was a robust, energetic, winning, invincible guy).

Rhetorical figures of position

They are those that alter the normal order of a sentence, the best known being the hyperbaton, the chiasmus, the pun or the parenthesis. For example, in the following verses by Manuel Machado we find the use of parentheses as a literary figure (Came surrendered -light without fire- between the clouds).

Logical figures of speech

They are those in which ideas are expressed through a specific logical relationship. The best known is the paradox (the verse I live without living in me of Santa Teresa is famous). The antithesis is a figure that plays on the logical opposition of words (a small step for man but a great leap for humanity, the phrase that Armstrong uttered when he walked on the Moon for the first time).

Figures of speech are literary devices and therefore "formulas" of language to create beauty and harmony in expression.

We must not think that they are used exclusively in literature, since we also use them in everyday language, since when we speak we can communicate ideas with a literary style. For example, if I say that someone runs like a greyhound, I am using hyperbole.

In advertising language we also find examples of rhetorical figures. In this sense, advertising aims to arouse consumer interest and for this it needs suggestive language.

Photos: iStock - baona / BraunS

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