Using similes and metaphors

Learning focus

To identify similes and metaphors and be able to use them in your writing.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos to help you understand similes and metaphors

  • three activities

Learn

Watch this short clip to learn about what similes and metaphors are.

Hear some examples of similes and metaphors.

Metaphors

A metaphor is a word or a phrase used to describe something as if it were something else.

For example: A wave of terror washed over him.

The terror isn't actually a wave, but a wave is a good way to describe the feeling.

Another example is: Jess is dynamite.

Jess isn't made of dynamite, but it's a good way to explain how exciting she is.

Similes

A simile describes something by comparing it to something else, using the words like or as.

For example:

  • The snake moved like a ripple on a pond.

  • It was as slippery as an eel.

  • Jess is as graceful as a gazelle.

Writers use similes and metaphors to create a clear picture for their readers.

For example: 'The light was as bright as the sun' gives us more description then 'the light was bright'.

Now watch the following clip of a man describing his encounter with the Loch Ness monster.

See if you can spot any similes or metaphors.

Listen to this man describe his encounter with the Loch Ness monster.

Did you spot these similes?

  • The sun was 'like a giant egg yolk'.

  • The creature was 'as big as an oil tanker'.

How about this metaphor?

  • The water 'foamed and boiled'.

 

Think: Did you prefer listening to the man's version of the story or the policeman's version? Can you explain why?

Practise

You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Activity 1

Check how well you understood the videos by completing this short activity.

You need to say whether each sentence is a simile or a metaphor.

Top tip!

Metaphors say something is something else.

Similes says something is like or as something else.

Activity 2

Now test your knowledge even further by completing this 'Metaphor or Simile?' quiz.

Read each phrase and decide whether it is a metaphor or a simile. How many will you get correct?

Activity 3

Some similes are used a lot, like 'as cool as a cucumber' or 'as busy as a bee'.

Here are the start of some similes but they have not been finished. Write them out on paper, adding in the endings. You need to finish each simile so it makes sense.

For example: 'As sad as a child on Christmas Day' doesn't make sense as children are usually happy on Christmas day.

Instead you could say, 'As sad as a child who has dropped their ice cream'.

  1. As happy as ......................................

  2. As busy as ......................................

  3. As quick as ......................................

  1. As tall as ......................................

  2. As lazy as ......................................

  3. As hungry as ......................................

Where next?

In this lesson you have learnt about similes and metaphors.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you with your descriptive writing.

There's more to learn

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