Secondary 2 English Singapore: How To Instantly Lift Your Essay With Figurative And Literal Expressions

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The English language can be so colourful. When writing your Secondary 2 English compositions, you have full liberty to rely on the multitudes of colourful idioms, colloquial language, foreign words which are now in the dictionary and of course, creative phrases of your own making.

There is simply no end to the way you can coin your phrases and lend more gravity, texture, weight, a preponderance of meaning and import to your writing in Secondary 2 English. 

At the same time, you can deftly change the quality of your meaning by using lighter, wittier and droll words to change the mood to being frivolous or even mirthful.

If you are at your wit’s end and are constantly wringing your hands in despair over the way your words lapse into pure boredom, do not worry. You will need to follow some basic steps if you really want to give a ‘lift’ to your writing in Secondary 2 English.

Ok. How do we get down to this?

Let us examine figurative and literal expressions, shall we?

The difference between them is the difference between normal words which we use every day and figures of speech such as metaphors which we do not really use all the time.

secondary 2 english

Literal words in Secondary 2 English

These are words that you can coin yourself. All you need is a bit of thought and adherence to the context you are writing in Secondary 2 English. 

If you are writing about your community, you may use literal words such as “the way the sun shone down among us in the courtyard increased our tendency for more play.”

These are simple words but they are put together in such a way that it describes the fun times the author must have had in the community.

This is literal writing as it calls for a bit of imagination and it is easy to write and understand. Anyone can do this easily, just make sure you have your punctuation correct.

If you find that the above example is too long, aim for shorter descriptions.

“The room was candle-lit creating shadows.”

This is short and descriptive. It creates mood and suspense.

Short literal expressions can be extremely useful as you do not have to have a list of metaphors or idioms which you have memorised. All you need to do is apply yourself to the situation. 

If the topic is about the place, then use descriptions about the room, the outdoor space and combine it with the pleasure gained from human activity. Eg. Playing badminton.

Literal expressions are also vocabulary phrases that you may have picked up in your Secondary 2 English classes. In fact, you may already have a store of them. Make sure that you use these lists in your file. Give them a good dusting and start applying them in your Secondary 2 English writing!

Figurative expressions in Secondary 2 English

These are also known as figures of speech. They are often used in literature texts and require a bit of interpretation to derive the true meaning. Figurative expressions are fun. They are a play on words and can be twisted and turned to refer to any subject.

Writing with figurative expressions means that you have a keen control of your writing. It requires mastery, skill and a gift of the gab to be able to use these seamlessly in your writing. All the bards did it and even modern writers use metaphors, it is just reflective of our times, that is all.

My favourite bard is Shakespeare, a man whose home was a long way from Singapore and who lived in the 1400s. You must be wondering why in the world I even fancy a writer like that. 

To tell you the truth, I think he was absolutely droll. He was just downright funny and I have a weakness for historical characters as they make everything that much more riveting.

Ok, ok. Enough about long-ago writers. Let me just regale you with some figures of speech that were wildly popularised in Shakespeare’s plays.

“The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.” ~ Julius Caesar 3:2

“The quality of mercy is not strained.

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath.” ~ The Merchant of Venice Act 4 Scene 1

The first figure of speech is simple. It reveals the ingratitude of people where they do not appreciate the good that their ex-leader has done, choosing instead to only reflect on his weaker qualities. This was spoken in the funeral oratory by Mark Antony who was almost in tears after Julius Caesar’s assassination. Caesar was a historical figure and the words

The second figure of speech compares mercy to rain as it drops gently. The speaker is compelling the listener to show mercy instead of rigidly following the rules.

Of course, when I paraphrase it, the meaning is simpler and shorter but the figure of speech gives more eloquence to the meaning of the words. It compels one to feel touched by the words and the power of the words become irresistible.

In fact, figurative expressions are unforgettable due to their witticisms, eloquence and originality.

If you can, try using figurative expressions as they are absolutely colourful and can give any essay of yours an instant lift. It does not necessarily have to be from Shakespeare but you can even try modern writers if you like. Make sure that it suits the Secondary 2 English context which you are writing in.

And always be sure to BLEND it into the flow of your Secondary 2 English essay. Try both the literal and figurative expressions just to see how your essay turns out.  Have fun writing!

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