Practical English Usage
English grammar and vocabulary exercises
Figures of speech - Simile and metaphor
A figure of Speech is a word or expression used to give particular emphasis to an idea or sentiment. Some figures of speech, such as simile, metaphor, personification and apostrophe are based on resemblance. Some are based on contrast (antithesis, epigram) while some others, such as climax and anticlimax, are based on the construction of plot.
In simile, a comparison is made between two distinctly different objects which have at least one point in common. The simile is usually introduced by such words as like, so or as.
Note that a comparison of two things of the same kind is not a simile.
Some common similes of everyday speech are given below:
Metaphor is an implied simile. Here a word or expression that in literal usage denotes one thing is applied to a distinctly different kind of thing for the purpose of suggesting a likeness between the two. Unlike the simile, the metaphor does not state that one thing is like another or acts as another, but it takes that for granted and proceeds as if the two things were one.
Note that every simile can be compressed into a metaphor and every metaphor can be expanded into a simile. When we say, "Her eyes were like diamonds" we use a simile, but when we say, "Her eyes were diamonds" we use a metaphor.
Not only nouns, but other parts of speech may also be used metaphorically. In the following example, the verb is used metaphorically.
In a mixed metaphor an object is identified with two or more different things in the same sentence. When used inadvertedly, the effect can be ludicrous.
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