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Hyperbole is when you use language to exaggerate what you mean or emphasize a point. It’s often used to make something sound much bigger and better than it actually is or to make something sound much more dramatic. Hyperbole is a figure of speech.
For example: “There’s enough food in the cupboard to feed an entire army!”
In this example, the speaker doesn’t literally mean that there’s enough food in the cupboard to feed the hundreds of people in the army. Instead, the speaker is using hyperbole to exaggerate the amount of food that they have.
Hyperbole can also be used to make something sound much worse than it actually is. For example: “This is the worst book in the world!” – the speaker doesn’t literally mean that the book is the worst one ever written, but is using hyperbole to be dramatic and emphasize their opinion.
In American and British English, hyperbole is pronounced ‘HI-PUR-BOW-LEE’.
Examples of Hyperbole in Everyday Speech
Take a look at the following list of hyperbolic phrases. How many of them have you heard or used before?
- He’s running faster than the wind.
- This bag weighs a ton.
- That man is as tall as a house.
- This is the worst day of my life.
- The shopping cost me a million dollars.
- My dad will kill me when he comes home.
- Your skin is softer than silk.
- She’s as skinny as a toothpick.
- She was so happy; her smile was a mile wide.
- The footballer is the best player of all time.
- I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.
- It’s impossible to complete this puzzle.
- Next Friday is never going to arrive.
- I’ve read this book a hundred times.
- My hand hurts so much it’s going to drop off.
- My brother is stronger than iron.
- She’s my guardian angel.
- Your brain is the size of a pea.
- I’m so sad that I’m drowning in tears.
- The leaves are dancing in the breeze.
Examples of Hyperbole in Poetry and Literature
Hyperbole is often used in poems and books because it helps to emphasize part of the story and evoke a response from the reader. Hyperbole can help the writer to get their point across so that you understand the emotion, seriousness or humor of the situation.
For example, in Shakespeare’s Macbeth he writes:
“Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No.”
In this example, Macbeth is using hyperbole to say that not even an entire ocean could wash his hands clean. Macbeth is using hyperbole to exaggerate the situation.
In her book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, the author Harper Lee writes:
“A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County.”
In this example, the author is using hyperbole to emphasize how slow and boring the town is. The hyperbolic phrases in this sentence help the reader to understand the situation as, without them, the sentence doesn’t appear as emotive. Have a go at re-writing Harper Lee’s sentence above without the hyperbole and see how it sounds!
The following poem by Shel Silverstein, titled ‘Rain’, shows some great examples of hyperbole. Can you identify them?
I opened my eyes
And looked up at the rain,
And it dripped in my head
And flowed into my brain,
And all that I hear as I lie in my bed
Is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head.
I step very softly,
I walk very slow,
I can’t do a handstand–
I might overflow,
So pardon the wild crazy thing I just said–
I’m just not the same since there’s rain in my head.
This bundle contains 5 ready-to-use hyperbole worksheets that are perfect to test student knowledge and understanding of what hyperbole is and how it can be used. You can use these hyperbole worksheets in the classroom with students, or with home schooled children as well.
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.