Similes and Metaphors at GrammarSongs by Melissa What are similes and metaphors? More importantly, how can understanding similes and metaphors help me when I read, speak, listen, and write. Let’s get started! Similes and metaphors are both types of figurative language that compare two subjects by highlighting their qualities. What does that mean? I don’t understand. It does sound confusing. So let me explain… Similes and metaphors are alike in many ways. The difference is that similes use the words “like” or “as” to compare by showing how two subjects are alike. Metaphors do not use “like” or “as” when comparing. They simply state that one thing is another thing. The word “simile” comes from the Latin word “similes” meaning “similar or like.” So simile show how two things are alike. The word “metaphor” is a combination of the Greek word “meta” meaning beyond and the Greek word “phor” meaning carrying. So to understand a metaphor, you must carry its meaning beyond the words you see. This is why both similes and metaphors are considered forms of figurative language. The words in a simile or metaphor cannot be understood literally or exactly. Literally? Exactly? Let me show you. Here is an example of a simile. She was as angry as a rattlesnake ready to strike. The girl is being compared to a rattlesnake.. The word “as” is the clue that lets the reader know this is a simile. The quality being compared is their anger. But since a girl is not exactly or literally a rattlesnake, the author is using figurative language to express the quality being shared, their anger. “The girl was an angry rattlesnake ready to strike,” would be an example of a metaphor. Just as in the simile the girl is being compared to a rattlesnake. The quality being compared, again, is anger. But, since the words “like” or “as” are not used, and the author is saying one thing is, or was, another… “The girl was an angry rattlesnake,” …we can clearly see that this is NOT a simile but a metaphor. So similes and metaphors are both examples of figurative language because the subjects or objects aren’t literally the same, but their qualities are similar when you compare them. Yes, the girl showed anger, and the snake showed anger, but a girl isn’t really a snake and a snake isn’t really a human girl. We use similes and metaphors every day when we speak without even thinking about it. You are an angel. This muffin is as hard as a brick. Of course the waitress isn’t really an angel. The man is using a metaphor to compare her to an angel because of her quality… her kindness. The muffin isn’t really a brick. The lady is using a simile to compare the muffin to a brick based on its similar quality… it’s…uh… hardness. Yikes! May we practice now? Absolutely! First, let’s analyze the words to see if the sentence is a simile or a metaphor. Remember, a simile compares two things using the words “like” or “as.” A metaphor does not use the words “like” or “as” to compare; it simply states that one thing is another. Then, let’s note the quality being compared. We want to understand how the two things being compared are similar. Finally, let’s discuss why an author or speaker may choose to use the simile or metaphor. How does it improve or enhance the message being sent to the listener or reader? Here we go! His singing is music to her ears. First, we need to decide if this is a simile or a metaphor. Similes include the words “like” or “as” Do you think this is a simile or a metaphor? Hmm! Well, since the author doesn’t use “like” or “as” and says one thing is, or was, another thing…. His singing IS music…. this sentence would be a metaphor. Next, we need to note the quality being compared. Which two subjects is the author comparing in this metaphor? Hmm! Well, the author is comparing his singing to music, so both singing and music have a melodic quality. So why would the author use this metaphor? How is the message enhanced? Hmm! Well, without this metaphor the author could simply write, “He sings well,” or “She likes his singing.” Using a metaphor encourages the reader to use his or her imagination. Using a metaphor paints a more vivid picture for the reader. Let’s practice again. The sunlight sparkled like a diamond upon the water. First, we need to analyze the words to see if this is a simile or a metaphor. Remember, similes include the words “like”or “as.” Do you think this is a simile or a metaphor? Hmm! Well, since the author uses the word “like”….the sunlight sparkled LIKE a diamond… the sentence would have to be a simile. Next, we need to note the quality being compared. Which two subjects is the author comparing in this simile? Hmm! Well, the author is comparing the sunlight to a diamond. Both the sunlight and a diamond have the quality of sparkling. So why would the author use this simile? How is the message enhanced? Hmm! Well, without this simile the author could simply write “The sunlight sparkled,” or “The sun was bright.” Using a simile encourages the reader to envision the quality of the sun. By comparing the sun to a diamond, the author stimulates imagination, painting a more vivid picture for the reader. So I can recognize similes and metaphors when I listen and read, and I understand that they are both forms of figurative language. And I can use them when I speak and write to paint a more vivid picture for my listener or reader. Exactly! Congratulations! You’ve earned a first-place trophy for your understanding of similes and metaphors. Thank you for joining me at GrammarSongs by Melissa. Enjoy other related videos at GrammarSongs com.