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Common Figures of Speech 3: Oxymoron, Paradox, Climax, Innuendo, Hyperbole

In this worksheet, students learn to identify the following as they read for meaning: oxymoron, paradox, climax, innuendo and hyperbole.

'Common Figures of Speech 3: Oxymoron, Paradox, Climax, Innuendo, Hyperbole' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  Reading

Curriculum subtopic:  Awareness of Vocabulary, Form and Grammatical Features

Difficulty level:  

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Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Oxymoron, Paradox, Climax, Innuendo and Hyperbole

 


Oxymoron

Oxymoron describes the use of two contradictory words placed together to create an effect. The examples given here are commonly used.

Examples:

  • Bittersweet. This oxymoron applies to situations which might benefit someone or something in some way, but can also have negative consequences.
  • An open secret.

 
Paradox

A paradox is a statement that seems to be contradictory but which may be true in the writer's view.

Examples:

  • You should save money by spending it. Investing money may be initially expensive, but it could be cheaper in the long run.
  • Dieting makes you fat. Dieting is supposed to make you thin. However, some people believe that in the long run your body will adapt and you will gain weight when you stop.

 
Climax

Climax describes a build-up of meaning to a high point. It also describes the point of maximum intensity or turning point in a dramatic plot.

Examples:

  • First England, then Europe, then the World!
  • At first she was nervous and shy, but she then became alarmed and intimidated before reaching a state of complete terror.


Anticlimax

Anticlimax describes the arrangement of ideas in descending order of importance. It is often used to provide humour.

Example:

  • I fought for God, for country, and for my cat Tigger.
  • When I was young I was Audrey Hepburn, in middle age I was Liz Taylor, and now I'm Nora Batty.
     

Innuendo

Innuendo is a subtle or indirect hint with negative connotations.

Example:

  • Everybody passed the test - even me! Here the author uses a tone of self-mocking.
  • Her beauty equalled the price she paid for her make-up.

 
Hyperbole

Hyperbole describes the use of exaggeration for emphasis.

Examples:

  • She cooked a mountain of food. By using the word mountain as an exaggeration, we understand that much more food was cooked than was needed.
  • My love is deeper than the ocean.

Identify the figure of speech used in the following phrases:

 

old news

to act naturally

a definite possibility

oxymoron

paradox

climax

innuendo

hyperbole

Identify the figure of speech used in the following sentence:

 

Initially he progressed at the pace of a toddler, then walked and cycled before sprinting through the exam.

oxymoron

paradox

climax

innuendo

hyperbole

Identify the figure of speech used in the following phrases:

 

She wasn't the sharpest tool in the box.

Two's company, but three's a crowd at this table.

oxymoron

paradox

climax

innuendo

hyperbole

Identify the figure of speech used in the following phrases:

 

"War is peace."
"Freedom is slavery."
"Ignorance is strength."

 

(George Orwell, 1984)

Oxymoron

Paradox

Climax

Innuendo

Hyperbole

Identify the figure of speech in the following phrases:

 

 

There were more flowers in that bouquet than there were in the cemetery.

He ate more in a day than they serve at the zoo.

Oxymoron

Paradox

Climax

Innuendo

Hyperbole

Read this excerpt from the poem To a Skylark by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

 

Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

 

Which figure of speech is used?

Oxymoron

Paradox

Climax

Innuendo

Hyperbole

Match the figures of speech with their definitions. Hover your mouse over the definitions to see them in full.

Column A

Column B

Oxymoron
A subtle hint or suggestion with negative connotat...
Paradox
The use of exaggeration for emphasis.
Climax
The use of two contradictory words placed together...
Innuendo
A statement that seems to be contradictory but whi...
Hyperbole
A build-up of meaning to a high point.

Identify the figure of speech used here by Juliet when she hears that her cousin has been killed by Romeo:

 

"Fiend angelical, dove-feathered raven, wolvish-ravening lamb...A damned saint, an honourable villain!"

Oxymoron

Paradox

Climax

Innuendo

Hyperbole

This verse from Shakespeare gives good examples of some of the figures of speech we have been looking at.


Beauty is but a vain and doubtful good;
A shining gloss that vadeth suddenly;
A flower that dies when first it gins to bud;
A brittle glass that's broken presently:
A doubtful good, a gloss, a glass, a flower,
Lost, vaded, broken, dead within an hour.

 

(Shakespeare, The Passionate Pilgrim)
 

 

Which figures of speech can you find? Choose as many answers as you think are correct.

Oxymoron

Paradox

Climax

Innuendo

Hyperbole

  • Question 1

Identify the figure of speech used in the following phrases:

 

old news

to act naturally

a definite possibility

CORRECT ANSWER
oxymoron
EDDIE SAYS
These are oxymorons.

News is fresh information. Old news is an oxymoron used when someone gives information that is already known and is therefore old.

If you are acting, you are not being spontaneous and behaving as you feel or would do "naturally".

Possibility suggests that something might happen. Definite suggests that something is completely certain. A definite possibility therefore seems contradictory.

  • Question 2

Identify the figure of speech used in the following sentence:

 

Initially he progressed at the pace of a toddler, then walked and cycled before sprinting through the exam.

CORRECT ANSWER
climax
EDDIE SAYS
Climax is the correct answer. The sentence describes the student's progress by building to a high point.
  • Question 3

Identify the figure of speech used in the following phrases:

 

She wasn't the sharpest tool in the box.

Two's company, but three's a crowd at this table.

CORRECT ANSWER
innuendo
EDDIE SAYS
These are innuendos. The first example suggests that the person isn't very clever; the second implies that someone should leave the table.
  • Question 4

Identify the figure of speech used in the following phrases:

 

"War is peace."
"Freedom is slavery."
"Ignorance is strength."

 

(George Orwell, 1984)

CORRECT ANSWER
Paradox
EDDIE SAYS
These are examples of paradoxical statements since they appear to be contradictory, but are believed to be true by the person stating them.
  • Question 5

Identify the figure of speech in the following phrases:

 

 

There were more flowers in that bouquet than there were in the cemetery.

He ate more in a day than they serve at the zoo.

CORRECT ANSWER
Hyperbole
EDDIE SAYS
They are examples of hyperbole since they are obviously exaggerations.

A real bouquet of flowers could not contain as many flowers as you might find in a cemetery.

One person could not eat all the food provided for the animals in a zoo in one day.

  • Question 6

Read this excerpt from the poem To a Skylark by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

 

Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

 

Which figure of speech is used?

CORRECT ANSWER
Paradox
EDDIE SAYS
The poem uses paradox.

We associate laughter with happiness, but it can be at someone's expense and can be painful. Sweet songs imply musical enjoyment and pleasure, but can have sad themes.

  • Question 7

Match the figures of speech with their definitions. Hover your mouse over the definitions to see them in full.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Oxymoron
The use of two contradictory word...
Paradox
A statement that seems to be cont...
Climax
A build-up of meaning to a high p...
Innuendo
A subtle hint or suggestion with ...
Hyperbole
The use of exaggeration for empha...
EDDIE SAYS
Oxymoron describes the use of two contradictory words placed together to create an effect.

A paradox is a statement that seems to be contradictory but which may be true in the writer's view.

Climax describes a build-up of meaning to a high point.

Innuendo is a subtle or indirect hint with negative connotations.

Hyperbole describes the use of exaggeration for emphasis.

  • Question 8

Identify the figure of speech used here by Juliet when she hears that her cousin has been killed by Romeo:

 

"Fiend angelical, dove-feathered raven, wolvish-ravening lamb...A damned saint, an honourable villain!"

CORRECT ANSWER
Oxymoron
EDDIE SAYS
The words are full of oxymoron, with the adjectives contradicting our understanding of the nature of the nouns. We would not expect a fiend to be angelical, or a saint to be damned, for example.
  • Question 9

This verse from Shakespeare gives good examples of some of the figures of speech we have been looking at.


Beauty is but a vain and doubtful good;
A shining gloss that vadeth suddenly;
A flower that dies when first it gins to bud;
A brittle glass that's broken presently:
A doubtful good, a gloss, a glass, a flower,
Lost, vaded, broken, dead within an hour.

 

(Shakespeare, The Passionate Pilgrim)
 

 

Which figures of speech can you find? Choose as many answers as you think are correct.

CORRECT ANSWER
Oxymoron
Paradox
Climax
Hyperbole
EDDIE SAYS
Oxymoron is present in "doubtful good" since the phrase seems contradictory.

We would normally expect beauty to be regarded as a good thing but the verse is negative in its description of its temporary nature, which is a paradox.

The verse builds to a climax at "dead within the hour" and since this is something of an exaggeration, we can also call it hyperbole.

---- OR ----

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