There is no denying that effective writing requires the skillful use of metaphors and similes. By sprinkling your writing with these devices, you can add color, depth, and vibrancy to your work. Use metaphors and similes correctly, and your words come alive for your readers. Spice up your writing with some well-placed metaphors and similes.
Know The Difference
Metaphors and similes are two different types of figurative language, meaning that they are phrases writers use to emphasize points without speaking directly about the facts.
- Figurative language is not literal and is used to demonstrate or emphasize a writer’s point.
Similes are very different from metaphors, but the two are often grouped together because they both accomplish the same purpose, which is making a comparison between two unrelated subjects in order to illustrate the writer’s point.
What is a simile?
A simile is an explicit comparison between two unlike subjects. This means that the comparison is directly stated, rather than making an implied connection between the subjects.
- A simile uses specific words to illustrate the comparison usually indicated by the words “like” and “as.”
For example, a writer may say that an airplane is like a bird in order to illustrate the similarities between the two objects. This example would be meant to indicate that both objects fly.
Or in figure skating, you might say that performing an axel vs axle is as difficult as solving a Rubix cube.
A writer might say that a certain bird is as big as an airplane. This, while an exaggeration, is also a simile because it makes a direct comparison between the bird and plane in order to better illustrate the size of the bird.
Takeaway: Creating comparison using the words “like” or “as”.
What is a metaphor?
A metaphor differs from a simile because it is an implicit or implied comparison. This means that the author calls attention to the comparison between two subjects without using keywords that point out the comparison.
- Instead of saying something is “like” something else, a metaphor usually says that one subject “is” something else.
For example, a student might say, “My school is a prison.” While readers understand that the student feels trapped, confined, or lacks freedoms in school, the comparison is made without explicitly stating the connection.
The famous poem I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou contains several powerful metaphors about social justice. Metaphors & symbolism in this poem include the “free bird” that is for the white people, and the “caged bird” is the metaphor of African American people’s struggles in society.
Takeaway: Creating a comparison without using “like” or “as”. A metaphor is an implied comparison.
An implied metaphor is a literary device that allows you to make a comparison between two unlike things without actually saying it. For example, if you say “I’m going to bed,” you’re actually comparing going to bed to sleep.
- The terms being compared are not so specifically explained, which is what makes it an implied metaphor.
You can use implied metaphors to make your writing more interesting and engaging. By making comparisons between things, you can provide a new perspective on a familiar topic. An implied metaphor can even be used for comparing inanimate objects and expressing human desire.
Furthermore, implied metaphors can help to make your writing more concise. Rather than explicitly stating a comparison, you can simply imply it, saving valuable space in your essay or article.
- Finally, implied metaphors can be used to add humor to your writing.
By comparing two seemingly unrelated things, you can create a humorous effect that will entertain your readers. So the next time you’re looking to add a touch of humor or originality to your writing, try using an implied metaphor.
Examples of implied metaphors:
Someone might say “you’re putting all your eggs in one basket” to warn someone against taking too much of a risk. In this case, the speaker is implying that the person is not being cautious enough and could end up losing everything.
What Is A Extended Metaphor?
An extended metaphor is lesser known concept. It’s essentially a metaphor that is longer. Extended metaphors are given several lines or even throughout the entire course of a work.
In other words, the author makes a comparison or analogy between two seemingly unrelated things and carries it out over an extended period of time in order to add greater meaning and impact to their work. Also, be sure to check out our post about allegory vs analogy to learn even more!
It’s almost like taking a metaphor to the next level; you not only make this one comparison, but link many different aspects together in order to bring even more depth and thought-provoking ideas into play.
How do I use them?
Similes and metaphors are best used to illustrate a point, such as the size of a bird in comparison to an airplane, or add emphasis to a point, such as how a school feels like a prison. These types of figurative language are generally understood not to be literal, and can be factual or absurd in nature as long as the comparison is clear.
Ineffective similes and metaphors are unclear due to readers not understanding how two objects are related. For example, “This napkin is like my backpack,” doesn’t really make sense to readers, because it is not easy to determine what comparison the writer is trying to make.
Many experts consider the effective use of figurative language to be an art form that is praised in literary circles, but they are often used in everyday communication, too. The most effective figurative language emphasizes a point through emotional connections.
For example, the example comparing a school to prison is effective because most people have strong feelings about prisons. By adding an emotional factor to your figurative language, readers have a stronger connection to your writing, and it better emphasizes points.
- There are many common similes and metaphors that have become so popular that they are accepted parts of our language. For example, “to lend a hand,” has been so widely that it is a common comparison and most people don’t even notice that it is a metaphor. While this means that they will be easily understood, it also means that people pay less attention to how a writer is trying to use the metaphor and the emphasis is lost. Most of these phrases have become clichés and should be avoided in good writing.
- “Mixed metaphors” occur when a writer confuses two common metaphors and ends up making an inaccurate comparison, or a writer uses two unrelated metaphors to describe the same subject. If you use metaphors, try to keep a common theme. If you use football as a comparison point, stick to football or sports metaphors, rather than talking about banking.
FAQs – Similes and Metaphors
Simile and metaphor are two figures of speech that are often confused. A simile is a figure of speech that uses “like” or “as” to compare two things, whereas a metaphor is a figure of speech that equates two things without using “like” or “as.” Although both similes and metaphors are ways of compare two things, they differ in how they go about comparisons.
1. Life is a journey.
2. Time is money.
3. A broken heart is like a broken mirror.
4. You can’t judge a book by its cover.
5. It’s raining cats and dogs.
The main difference between metaphor and allegory is that a metaphor is a figure of speech that employs an indirect comparison, while an allegory is a sustained metaphor in which characters, objects, and events represent abstract ideas or principles.
Animal Farm by George Orwell is a classic example of an allegory. The novel tells the story of a group of farm animals who revolt against their human farmer, only to find out that they are not much better off under the rule of their animal leader, Napoleon. The novel uses the animals to allegorically represent the types of people who were involved in the Russian Revolution, and ultimately speaks to the brutal reality of totalitarian regimes.
Not the same thing. A metaphor is a figure of speech that uses an image or comparison to express a thought or idea. An idiom, on the other hand, is a phrase where the words have a meaning that is different from the dictionary definition of the words.
Metaphors and similes can be fun, but using them correctly takes practice. With a little effort, you can add some spice to your writing by sprinkling in figurative language. Just make sure that the comparisons you choose actually make sense – if they don’t, your readers will quickly lose interest.