What's the Difference Between a Metaphor and a Simile?
By Stephen Bucaro
To make your writing or speech more colorful, or more understandable, you can
use comparisons. Many people think any comparison is a metaphor, but sometimes
a comparison is a simile. Although the difference between a metaphor and a simile
is easy to understand, it's difficult to remember.
A simile compares two things using like or as. Examples of similes are:
"he drinks like a fish"
"her mind is as sharp as a sword"
"he's blind as a bat"
"she's slow like molasses in January"
A metaphor compares two things WITHOUT using a comparison word such as like or as.
Examples of metaphors are:
"all the world's a stage"
"the world" is compared to a stage without using a comparison word such as like or as.
"time is a thief"
"time" is compared to a thief without using a comparison word such as like or as.
Metaphors and similes are used in "figurative" language. In figurative language, The
writer or speaker describes something through the use of comparisons. It's not
intended to be interpreted in a literal sense. Figurative language is used for effect,
to add interest, or to make things easy to understand. Another technique used in
figurative language is personification.
Personification is giving human traits (qualities, feelings, action, or characteristics)
to non-human things. Examples of personification are:
"the moon winked at me"
"the trees whispered in the breeze"
"the boulder refused to budge"
Obviously, the bolder may not budge as force is applied, but in order for it to "refuse"
to budge, it would have to have thought, a human characteristic.
In the metaphor "time is a thief", "time" is accused of taking something from another
person without their permission. Since time is made subject to the human criminal
justice system, obviously this metaphor is also a personification.