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What is the difference between a simile and a metaphor?

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A metaphor can be used to replace one idea with another.  For example, a tsunami can be described as a "wave of destruction" for the damage that it causes.  It implies a comparison.  A simile establishes the comparison of ideas.  An endless torrent of rain flooded the valley like a tsunami.

It is easy to remember that a SIMILE is a STATED comparison, that is, the similarity is STATED. Both "simile" and "stated' begin with an "s". A metaphor does not state a comparison.
metaphor directly states the similarity as though the two things being compared are one and the same; ex. life is but a dream
simile uses the word like to show similarity; ex. life is like a dream

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Jonathan E. | Princeton Advantage: Test Prep/Social Studies/English/Chinese TutorPrinceton Advantage: Test Prep/Social St...
5.0 5.0 (7 lesson ratings) (7)

A simile is a figurative comparison between two things using "like" or "as" - ex. Life is like a box of chocolates.

A metaphor is also a figurative comparison between two things, but does not use "like" or "as" - ex. All the world's a stage.

Keep in mind that a simile is a type of metaphor, so all similes are technically metaphors.

Good luck with your worksheet!

Crystal K. | Patient Math, Writing, SAT TutorPatient Math, Writing, SAT Tutor
4.9 4.9 (65 lesson ratings) (65)

Both simile and metaphor are figurative comparisons.

When using a simile, you compare two things using the words like or as.

ex:You're like a firework.

When using a metaphor, you compare two things directly. No need to use like or as.

ex: You're a firework.

With a simile, you are like something. With a metaphor, you are something.


Jessica V. | English TeacherEnglish Teacher

Metaphors and simlies can be confusing sometimes, because they are very similar. Both are forms of figurative language. Similies use 'like' or 'as' in them: The sunset was like a blazing fire. OR, The sunset was as intense as a blazing fire. Helpful hint: similie has an 'L' in it, so think 'L': 'like' or 'as'. Metaphors compare two items without such buffer words: The sunset was a blazing fire.

Natalia E. | Experienced K-12 educator in your journey toward academic success!Experienced K-12 educator in your journ...

A simile is comparing to things using the words "like" or "as"

A metaphore compares things WITHOUT using the words "like" or "as"

For example:

(using a simile) The girl is as pretty as a rose.

(using a metaphore) The girl is a pretty rose.

Donna B. | Let Me Be Your TutorLet Me Be Your Tutor

Both a simile and a metaphor are literary techniques to compare two things with a descriptive phrase. Yes, a Simile is easier to spot because it is a STATED comparison using "like" or "as". The difference with a metaphor is the comparison is implied directly. Example: My cat is like a dog following me on a path. This is a simile. My cat is a dog following me on my path. That is a metaphor.

The phrase "I am as hungry as a horse", does not mean I will eat hay or really eat that much food but it is Not a Simile because it is not comparing two things. It describes the degree of the horse's hunger but does not equate the horse with the hunger.

Suzanne M. | English Tutor: Literature, Reading, Grammar, Writing, VocabularyEnglish Tutor: Literature, Reading, Gram...
4.0 4.0 (2 lesson ratings) (2)

Both similes and metaphors are literary techniques used to compare two different things; however, they do so differently. A simile is a comparison that uses "like" or "as" in the comparison. A metaphor is a comparison that says something is something else. Examples: A simile--"He was like a lion in battle." A Metaphor--"Her smile was a bright light in a dark, dark tunnel."

Beverly C. | English Tutor: Helping you say what you want to say!English Tutor: Helping you say what you ...
5.0 5.0 (1 lesson ratings) (1)

Both are examples of figurative language.

With a simile, you are comparing two things using "like" or "as."

For example: His smile was as big as the Grand Canyon.

This comparison illustrates that this mans smile was huge, comparing it to the Grand Canyon.

I like to think of a metaphor as a stronger simile. With a metaphor, the two things being compared are so much alike that they no longer are "like" something but they are something.

For example: His smile was the Grand Canyon.

This is still a comparison only now it no longer uses "like" or "as." The mans smile was so big, it WAS the Grand Canyon.

4.8 4.8 (214 lesson ratings) (214)

The easiest way to rememer this is: "S" A Simile is a Stated comparison. (A metaphor is not stated.) Metaphor: The new student was a little tornado gathering strength. Simile: The new student was like a volcano overflowing with angry lava. If the sentence has the word "like" in it, comparing two things, it is a simile because the comparison is stated.

Kevin S. | DePaul English Major offering expertise in writingDePaul English Major offering expertise ...

Everyone here has listed fantastic definitions and examples. I find simile and metaphor to be some of the most fun and easy comparison tools in a writer's tool box. Simile uses like and as to create a comparison and metaphor does not. 

Liam M. | British Qualified Elementary School TeacherBritish Qualified Elementary School Teac...
5.0 5.0 (50 lesson ratings) (50)

Similes use 'as' or 'like' to describe something by relating it to something similar (Hence Simile) For example He was as quick as a fox and metaphors do the same but do not use 'as' or 'like' and the two things mentioned are usually completely unrelated. For example the curtain of night.