How to Write Metaphors and Similes

He is a busy bee. (metaphor)

He is as busy as a bee. (simile)

Learn how to write metaphors and similes, it will help you become fluent in English. Our last lesson focused on similes so today we will study metaphors.

In this lesson, we will identify metaphors and study some examples. You’ll learn the difference between a simile and a metaphor. I also want to warn you about the dangers of using clichés. Finally, I’ll teach you how to write your own metaphor or recycle a dead one.

A metaphor states that something IS something else.

Metaphors compare two things to entertain or explain. They allow you to
give sensational meaning to ordinary things. Metaphors can make complex ideas appear very simple.

Examples of Metaphor

“Time is money,” don’t waste your time, it’s valuable.

“Teacher is a busy bee,” the teacher is hard working.

“Books are keys to your imagination,” reading books improve (unlock) your creativity.

“My big brother is a couch potato,” he’s not very active, he sits on his sofa all day.

“He’s a walking, talking dictionary,” he has a large vocabulary and knows the meaning of many words.

“The classroom was a zoo,” students were acting like animals.

“It’s music to my ears,” a friend’s voice brings comfort or joy.

Metaphors paint pictures in your reader’s mind so that your message is easy to understand and remember. Metaphors work best when you keep them simple and on topic.

Boost dull blogs with lively metaphors.

Turn a Simile into a Metaphor.

Example: He’s as brave as a lion. (simile)

He’s a brave lion. (metaphor)

Have a look at some other similes. Remove the “as” or “like”, rearrange the words and turn them into stylish metaphors.

Write your own Metaphors.

Just like writing similes, you can use this simple recipe to cook up delicious metaphors.

Picture the object or visualize it in your mind.
What does it look, feel, smell, taste or sound like?
How would you or a stranger react to it?
What does it make you think of?
Write down all your ideas – play around with the words until you find that “YES!” moment.

Beware of Cichés

Clichés are metaphors (similes or other forms of creative writing) that have lost their impact, either through over use of by becoming irrelevant to the times.

“He is a loose cannon,” someone who acts uncontrollably – likely to cause problems for others.

This is a dead metaphor because the days of fighting wars with cannons are long gone. He’s a loose cluster bomb, hmmm, bombs just aren’t politically correct or sensitive these days.

Let’s be Clever and Recycle it into a Modern Metaphor.

loose cannonuncontrollable, cause problems, trouble, mischief maker, punk, Sid Vicious, computer virus,

He’s a vicious virus. (YES!)

Does that make you think of someone who’s uncontrollable and dangerous?

Maybe, “vicious virus,” is easier to understand than “loose cannon.” What do you think?

Consider metaphors as never finished but evolving within time and place.

Keep playing with the words.

Look back in your diary. Can you see a great place for a metaphor? Look at the metaphor list. Follow the instructions above. Try changing the words.

Compose a funky metaphor to animate your diary page.

Don’t think there is a right or wrong way to do things.

Experimentation welcomes explosive results.

Feel free to share your new unique metaphors in the comments section.

Did you make a Fluent English New Year’s Resolution? Let’s do some planning now.

Author: Teacher Steve

Teacher Steve is 52 years old, happily married but has no children of his own. He's a fully qualified teacher who has been teaching English in sunny Thailand for over 15 years. Teacher Steve loves to write and decided to start English Teacher Online, in December 2016, to help students study English for free. He works tirelessly so that students can become fluent in English, empowering them to work and travel the world. You can also watch him teaching live at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *