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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Similes and Metaphors


What's the difference between a simile and a metaphor?


Let's look at the two "classic" figures of speech, the ones every teacher loves to talk about. Reciting from my school days:

"A simile compares two or more things using 'like' or 'as'; a metaphor does the same without 'like' or 'as.'"

Is that clear?

"Run like the wind," "eat like a horse," "drive like a maniac": These are all similes. But to say of a person who eats a lot, "He's a horse," or to say of a fast driver, "He's a maniac": those are metaphors.

Similes and metaphors can add interest to your speech. However, beware of clichés. These are over-used figures of speech that add little or nothing to what you say. Virtually all the similes and metaphors I've given are clichés.


Let's make new similes to replace the clichés above.

Here are the three clichéd similes:

a. Run like the wind
b. Eat like a horse
c. Drive like a maniac

Which of the following is a good ending for:

a. Run like . . .
b. Eat like . . .
c. Drive like . . .

1. a brush fire
2. a fireman
3. a man leaving a burning building
4. a fugitive
5. a shark
6. you're tired of living
7. a kid after school
8. a dieter on holiday
9. an Olympian


1. Try to make other similes and metaphors for the starters ("Run like . . ." etc.) above.
2. Find other clichéd similes (strong as an ox, fat as a pig) and make new ones with the same beginning.
3. Change the answers from the practice to metaphors; for example, "When my friend sits down to eat, he's a brush fire that consumes everything."


1. b eat like a brush fire
2. c drive like a fireman
3. a run like a man leaving a burning building
4. c drive like a fugitive
5. b eat like a shark
6. c drive like you're tired of living
7. a run like a kid after school
8. b eat like a dieter on holiday
9. a run like an Olympian

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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