Similes & Metaphors – Best Practice

Many students ask for simile or metaphor examples when they want to become fluent in English. They want to sound like a native English speaker so I wrote this free lesson on similes. We will study metaphors in the next lesson.

This lesson identifies similes, gives some examples of “as” and “like” similes and then encourages you to write your own. A list of new similes as modern as the metric system will appear in the comments section after this lesson.

Similes (like metaphors) create imagery. Both can be used to paint a picture in your reader’s mind. The easy way to identify a simile is to look for the word “as” or “like.”

Similes use AS or LIKE

Many of the simplest similes describe people through the actions of animals.

“Sam is as brave as a lion,” the person is courageous.

“He is busy as a bee,” the person is hard working.

“Grandpa is blind as a bat,” because bats use echolocation rather than sight.

“She was as nervous as my guinea pig,” the person is timid.

“My dog is crazy like a fox,” the dog is uncontrollable or pounces on things instinctively.

“Like having someone else’s shadow,” describes being followed around very closely.

Similes can Describe Objects

“My love is like a red, red rose,” Robert Burns compares his love to a beautiful red flower.

“The truth was like a bad taste on his tongue,” describes not liking or not being able to speak the facts.

“Like putting toothpaste back in the tube,” describes a difficult task that would be slow and tedious.

“Like exchanging stares with a statue,” describes an unmoving face that has no emotion, it never blinks.

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” Forest Gump compares the uncertainty of life to the guesswork of choosing a chocolate from a box.

“They melted away like snow from a fire,” describes peoples’ movement away from something or someone. This simile is extremely effective because snow does melt next to a fire and the movement would be gradual and fluid. Smooth flowing writing is your aim.

Simile Definition

Now you have seen some examples, here is the definition. A simile is a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid. Similes use “like” or “as.”

You can find a large list of similes here.

Easy Simile Practice

Start using similes by comparing people to the characteristics of animals. Start by thinking about interesting or distinctive people in your real life. Now think of an adjective to describe them. Next find an animal that the adjective also describes.

Example: Richard, brave, lion.
Richard is as brave as a lion.

How many people can you compare to animals? Try to be nice! Write down the polite ones. “Hey Henry! You look as happy as a hyena,” could be a very bad way to start your day if Henry were your boss!

Serious Simile Practice

Think of an action or emotion that you normally associate with a person. Next find phrases that could describe it, choose the best.

Example: Judy, eyes, blue, sky, shine, sparkle, stars
Your eyes sparkle like stars in the sky.

Unique Simile Practice

You need to know similes and understand their meanings but be careful you don’t use them too much. The best similes are the new ones that modern people are creating every day.

Look back in your diary and try to find situations where you could add a simile to your sentence.

Find a picture of the object or visualize it in your mind.
How does it look, feel, smell, taste or sound like?
What reaction would you or a stranger give it?
What does this object make you think of?
Write down all your ideas – the worst one could easily be developed into a fantastic new simile after you sleep on it.

Look at your list in the morning and play with the words some more. Eventually you will crack the code of simile writing like a thief at a poets’ gala dinner.

Please feel free to show off your similes in the comments section.