The EFC Writer – Similes and Metaphors

 

Welcome to the EFC Writer—a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing (or not doing, as the case may be). 

 

TODAY’S TOPIC: Similes and Metaphors

Metaphors equate one thing with another. Similes compare two dissimilar things. These are easy to use, but for some reason, we all find it tough to remember which is which.

Honestly? I don’t care if you can tell the difference (just save a link to this post to brush up on before parties); I just want you to use them–both of them, please. They’ll improve your writing by making it more descriptive and memorable. I promise.

Metaphor: I am a god.

Simile: I am like a god. I am as awesome as a god. I am more beautiful than a god.

Metaphor: The Doctor is a star.

Simile: The Doctor is as bright as a star.

Metaphor: This pot roast is crap.

Simile: This pot roast tastes like crap.

 

FOR GRAMMAR GEEKS:

“A metaphor is a figure of speech that compares one concept to another by likening the first to something else. Often the concepts are unrelated but equal, joined by some form of the verb ‘to be’ to create a new or unusual association . . . ”

“Metaphors are frequently confused with similes because they have similar uses. They are both used to make comparisons, but they have different structures.”

“A simile is a figure of speech that compares two unlike concepts and joins them by the words like, as, or than. Similes differ from metaphors in that the concepts are not treated as equals.”

(Robbins, Lara M., Grammar & Style at Your Fingertips, Alpha 2007, 82-3.)

MERRIAM-WEBSTER DEFINITION:

met·a·phor
noun
\ˈme-tə-ˌfr also -fər\
plural met·a·phors
1:  a figure of speech in which a word or phrase denoting one kind of object or action is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (as in the ship plows the seas or in a volley of oaths) :  an implied comparison (as in a marble brow) in contrast to the explicit comparison of the simile (as in a brow white as marble)
1sim·i·le
noun
\ˈsi-mə-(ˌ)lē\
plural -s
1:  a figure of speech comparing two essentially unlike things and often introduced by like or as (as in cheeks like roses, a heart as hard as flint)

 

Further Reading/Sources: Grammar & Style at Your Fingertips by Lara M. Robbins

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