Identify the figure of speech employed in the sentence: Today I came across a post on Facebook complaining how useless Facebook is. a) oxymoron b) irony c) personification d) alliteration
Hint: A figure of speech is a word or a phrase that is used to express something in a way that is not equal to its literal meaning. Some examples of figures of speech are metaphor, personification, alliteration, synecdoche, etc. In the given sentence, note that a person using Facebook is complaining about Facebook being useless.
Complete answer: To answer the question, let us find out the meanings of the figures of speech in the given options.
Option a: Oxymoron is used when two words of opposite meaning are placed one beside the other. For example, She was clearly confused about how to make her project. To be clear about something means to be sure about something or to not be confused. However, the word used right after “clearly” is confused which means to not be sure of something. Thus, clearly confused is an oxymoron since two words which are opposite in meaning to each other have been placed side by side.
Option b: An irony is used to describe something when you actually mean the opposite of what you are saying. For example, suppose you break a vase in your house. Your mother sees it and says “Well done”. She obviously does not mean that you have done a good job by breaking the vase.
Option c: Personification is used when we identify a non-living object as a person. For example, the air whispered in my ears. Here, “air” has been personified since we are saying that it whispered in my ears. It actually did not whisper but it seemed like it did.
Option d: Alliteration is used when we use words beginning with the same letter or having the same sound, consecutively. For example, the sheep should sleep in the shed. Here, the sound “sh” occurs consecutively in “sheep”, “should” and “shed”. Also, the letter “s” has been used in most of the words consecutively.
Thus, from the above explanations, we can see that option b is the correct answer since the person has used Facebook to write that Facebook is useless. If Facebook is useless, the person should ideally not use Facebook at all. Thus, the irony is that the person is using Facebook to write that Facebook is useless. So basically he is contradicting himself.
Note: Please note that students may get confused between irony and oxymoron as the correct answer for the given sentence. Oxymoron is used only when two words which are opposite in meaning are used side by side. In the given sentence while the person may be contradicting himself, there are no words used which means opposite to each other. On the other hand, it is definitely an irony because of the reason explained above.