Literally vs. Figuratively

Difference Between Literally and Figuratively

We commonly hear sentences having the words figurativelyorliterally that gives an impact to the statement. These are words that have diverse meanings, and are used in unusual contexts too, though, there are many who feel they are alike and use them as synonyms. This article, takes a closer look at these two words to emphasize the differences between them.


Figures of speech are used to make sentences sound poetic.You know what the use of the word figuratively does to a sentence. Being an exaggeration, it need not be taken literally or seriously. Thus, if someone uses the idiom ‘broke my heart’ they mean someone hurt them deeply and not breaking their heart to pieces.Hence, figurativelyis used to exaggerate a sentence, and also to involve that this exaggeration should not be taken literally or in the strictest sense of the word.


Literally means, really or true in the strictest sense. Adding this word adds a weight to the statement making it truerfor the reader. It adds an impact to the statement. Literally is not used to exaggerate. It is exactly opposite to figuratively.Figuratively uses lyrical words to contrast something with something else, which it is not. So, if someone’s is described to be white like milk, it is figurative. Consider the sentence, “we would not have survived without the UN’s help, literally” is a paradigm of the use of the word literally emphasizing the significance of help from the UN.

How to differentiate literally fromfiguratively?

It is fundamental to know the variation between literally and figuratively before using them in a sentence so as to avoid using them incorrectly. In the strictest sense of the word literally it means, true, factual, and without any exaggeration. On the contrary, figuratively makes a statement comparing impressive with something else in such an approach that is not possible.


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