Using similes and metaphors

Home 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


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

Hear some examples of similes and 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.


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?


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

Complete this 'Simile or Metaphor?' activity sheet.

You need to read the phrase inside each cloud and decide whether it is a simile or a metaphor.

You can either print the activity sheet and colour the similes blue and the metaphors yellow, or copy the phrases out into two lists: similes and metaphors.

Top tip!

Remember if a phrase uses the word like or as it is a simile.

Simile or Metaphor?

Activity 3

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

Complete this 'Inventing New Similes' activity sheet by rewriting the well-known similes and updating them with your own ideas.

For example: 'As tall as a giraffe' could become 'As tall as a skyscraper'.

Either print out the activity sheet or write your new similes on a piece of paper.

Inventing New Similes

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.

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