What is exaggeration? Exaggeration (also called hyperbole) is a literary technique which involves over emphasising something to cause a more effective response in the reader. It is a type of figurative language (like similes and metaphors), as it is used to create more vivid images in the mind of the reader than literal comparisons.

Exaggeration is common in everyday language, and phrases such as the following are extremely well known:

  • I am so hungry I could eat a horse.
  • This ice cream is out of this world.
  • I’m in so much trouble, my Dad is going to kill me.
  • I have told you a million times to stop doing that.
  • I’ll be there in two seconds.

We use hyperbole when we speak, so that our strong feelings and thoughts towards something are clear to other people. For example, saying that:

  • ‘This ice cream is good’

does not come across as strong as the sentence:

  • ‘This ice cream is out of this world’.

Obviously, the ice cream is not literally ‘out of this world’, but the figurative language is more powerful, as it emphasises just how much the person likes this ice cream.

Exaggeration is also common in persuasive writing, such as newspaper articles, as it effectively manages to get points across to the reader and evoke a more emotional response.

When do children learn about exaggeration?

Figurative language is gradually taught in KS2, and teachers will ensure that children spend plenty of time learning and practising each technique before introducing new ones to the class.

Throughout Years 3 and 4 children should have learnt about similes and onomatopoeia, before expanding their knowledge to other forms of figurative language (including exaggeration and metaphor) in Years 5 and 6.  By Years 5 and 6 children will be able to spot figurative language in a text and discuss why a writer has used a technique to impact the reader.

Teachers will also be encouraging children to use exaggeration in their own writing to make it more exciting. For example, children might be asked to create a persuasive account of why their favourite food/ hobby is so good. Teachers can then go through their writing and highlight where they have used exaggeration and where more could have been used.

How to help children use exaggeration?

Children will probably have already heard exaggeration being used in common expressions like the ones mentioned above.

Pointing out when these are used at home is a good way of familiarising children with exaggeration and why we use it.

Encouraging children to use come up with their own exaggerated phrases might also be a fun way of practising the technique.

How does Learning Street help children with exaggeration?

Learning Street introduces the topic of exaggeration, then we extend knowledge and then we ensure we revise it and encourage children to use the technique in their writing.

Exaggeration is a core skill children need to master to improve their writing. Those who have mastered it and who regularly use it their writing find they get higher marks as a result because it is one technique which can help to bring their writing to life.

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