Literary Terms Worksheet

This literary terms worksheet provides teachers and students with a selection of the most useful terms to know. Literary terms often show up in English Literature classes beginning early in education. Many literary terms for poetry and prose overlap. This worksheet provides a matching activity for words and definitions. It can be used as a classroom activity or as a helpful study guide or review of the terms.

Literary Terms - Activity 1

Literary terms to choose from:

  • Allusion

  • Climax

  • Foreshadowing

  • Flashback

  • Genre

  • Imagery

  • Irony

  • Metaphor

  • Mood

  • Narrator

  • Onomatopeia

  • Parody

  • Personification

  • Refrain

  • Satire

  • Setting

  • Sonnet

  • Subplot

  • Symbol

  • Theme

  • Tone

Fill in the blanks: The object of this exercise is to match the word with the definition provided.

  1. ________________ is a literary device that allows writers to show their audience specific events that happened before the current action of the story.

  2. ________________ is a category system that literature falls into based on specific conventions that develop to characterize the differences.

  3. _________________ can be verbal, situational, or dramatic and has the result of the meaning, situation or action being one thing but meaning something different.

  4. _________________ is a type of literary work that satirizes another work, its author, or the ideas presented.

  5. _________________ is a type of literary device where an author ridicules specific people, groups or some aspect of society.

  6. _________________ is where a story takes place.

  7. _________________ is a type of poem that has a specific rhyme and meter.

  8. _________________ is a minor story that runs inside the main story.

  9. _________________ is a concrete or physical object that represents an abstract concept.

  10. _________________ is how the writer feels about his subject that comes through based upon the types of words chosen.

  11. _________________ is how the reader feels about the story.

  12. _________________ is an abstraction that represents the central idea of the story.

  13. _________________ tells the story either in the first, second or third person point of view.

  14. _________________ is the most exciting part of a story where all of the main conflict comes together.

  15. _________________ is an intentional reference to another literary work or piece of art that the reader should understand in order to make connections.

  16. _________________ is when the author hints at actions that will come in the future.

  17. _________________ is a word that describes words that represent sounds.

  18. _________________ is a comparison of two different things to make them more alike.

  19. _________________ is when authors give human traits to animals or some other lifeless object.

  20. _________________ is repetition of sounds or words to form a pattern.

  21. _________________ is a writer's vivid description that help readers visualize.

Answers: 1) Flashback 2) Genre 3) Irony 4) Parody 5) Satire 6) Setting 7) Sonnet 8) Subplot 9) Symbol 10) Tone 11) Mood 12) Theme 13) Narrator 14) Climax 15) Allusion 16) Foreshadowing 17) Onomatopeia 18) Metaphor 19) Personification 20) Refrain 21) Imagery

Literary Terms - Activity 2

Directions: Match the example with one of the literary terms above. (Note that not all terms are used in this activity.)

  1. ____________________ Time is money

  2. ____________________ The house stared angrily at its new occupants

  3. ____________________ Western, Science Fiction, Documentary

  4. ____________________ A flag represents freedom

  5. ____________________ Greed, Love, Sadness

  6. ____________________ New York, New York, at the turn of the century

  7. ____________________ Shakespearian and Petrarchan

  8. ____________________ Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels

  9. ____________________ "Gentlemen! You can't fight in here. This is the war room." (Dr. Strangelove directed by Stanley Kubrick)

  10. ____________________ "She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task." ("Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry)

Answers: 1) Metaphor 2) Personification 3) Genre 4) Symbol 5) Theme 6) Setting 7) Sonnet 8) Satire 9) Irony 10) Tone

The best way to learn about literary terms and figurative language is to use them in the context of reading or watching plays, movies or television shows. They may not make sense individually; however, when telling a story, they become an indispensable part of understanding the story from beginning to end.

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