Metaphors and similes, oh my! While metaphors and similes are both used to make a comparison, they have one little difference: the words like or as. See how this works by looking at the difference between metaphor and simile through examples. Find out when you should use a metaphor and a simile.
Writing is hard. You might even call it a battlefield. Especially when two different types of literary devices are going head-to-head in a writing battle. While it would be fun to watch metaphor and simile duke it out in the literary arena, it’s not going to happen.
Instead, you can get a clear idea of what a metaphor and a simile are. Since a simile is a type of metaphor, it’s best to start by defining a metaphor.
Metaphors make a direct comparison between two things that seem like they’re not alike. And, yes, there is a reason seem is bold. Why? Because when you think about it, the two things do have something in common.
- Her stomach was a roaring lion.
You know her stomach isn’t actually a roaring lion. But a lion growls, and a stomach growls. While a lion and a stomach aren’t alike, they both do growl. So, when you say, her stomach was a roaring lion, you can picture just how loudly her stomach growled. And, it’s way more interesting than saying, her stomach growled.
Still a bit confused? Explore a few more metaphor examples along with what they have in common.
- My best friend is an angel. (good)
- Billy Blake is a devil. (evil)
- The sun was a furnace. (hot)
- Her eyes were twinkling stars. (sparkle)
- The lion’s teeth were daggers. (sharp)
- My phone is a dinosaur. (old)
Metaphor was easy right? Well, since a simile is a type of metaphor, understanding what it is will be a snap.
You might have guessed by now that a simile also makes a comparison between two things. However, unlike a metaphor, which says something is something else, a simile uses the word as or like to make the comparison.
- My friend is as quiet as a mouse.
- My friend is quiet like a mouse.
Similes are a bit easier to understand because you don’t have to guess what they have in common. You instantly know that their friend and a mouse are both quiet. Just to make sure you completely understand, dive into a few other simile examples.
- The teacher roared like a lion at the misbehaving classroom.
- My friend can jump like a gazelle.
- The instructions were as clear as mud.
- The student was as busy as a bee.
- The students were as good as gold.
- My sister is helpless like a baby.
- My siblings fight like wild beasts.
- Silvia’s room smelled like garbage.
Easy peasy right? Understanding the difference between a metaphor and a simile isn’t so hard once you look at a few examples. It’s as easy as pie.
Since you know the difference between metaphor and simile, let’s check out when you should use each.
When it comes to whether you should use a metaphor vs. simile, you want to think about whether your reader will understand what you are saying. For example, if you say, "My room is garbage." It might not make sense to readers because the fact both garbage and your room smells isn’t clear. In this instance, you might say, “My room is smelly like garbage.” That makes it clear to the reader both your room and garbage smell.
It’s also important to vary your similes and metaphors. Using both in your story about your sister can make it more interesting. For example:
- My sister was a cackling hyena. (metaphor)
- My sister cackled like a hyena. (simile)
Most of the time, whether you use a metaphor or simile is totally up to you.
Metaphors and similes are vivid like a picture. They make your writing come to life and add variety to your wording. Since metaphor and simile were a piece of cake, jump into idioms for kids. Or, you could just call it a day!