A Simile

is when something is likened to something else

For example…..

1.   Like a candle in the darkness

2.    As smooth as a baby’s bottom

A metaphor

instead of just likening something, says it is the same.


For example….

1.    The lion is the king of the jungle

2.  Your room is a pigsty

However, a metaphor can be a little bit more subtle than the two examples above. The words ‘is’ and ‘was’,  are not necessary for it to be a metaphor;  it is simply the comparison of one thing to another as if it were a statement of fact:

For example, here are a few metaphorical phrases included in the following sentences…..

He had met some interesting characters on his journey of life.

He hoped that this job would be a stepping stone to a new career

Why did he have to have a big baby for a sister?!

The long arm of the law finally caught up with him.

Try some of the following ideas to get into the habit of using similes and metaphors within your language:

Look at some inspirational photographs from the internet.


Brainstorm ideas  of what characteristics strike you about each object, place or creature in the photograph.  Images of nature, water, landscapes, sky, movements, animals etc are particularly inspirational.  Use these to think of similes and metaphors. eg Like a frightened deer (simile); a rainbow of colours(metaphor); swords of sunlight pierce through the leaves of the tree (metaphor).etc, as the pictures inspire.



Go through an animal encyclopaedia for ideas….

Look at different animals: what are they most famous for and what do they make you think of.
For example: Laughing like a hyena, running like a panther, blending in like a chameleon. (all similes

As you do this you will no doubt notice how many of these similes and metaphors are already well used eg As sly as a fox, as strong as an ox.

Click here to see a whole list of animal similes, and when you have read them all have a go at this puzzle.

Now find ways to use this language in a different situation like, for example,

  1. My little angel of a sister (metaphor) is actually as sly as a fox (simile). She does everything behind closed doors (metaphor), so Mum never sees her do anything naughty and thinks that she’s perfect.  Really, it’s my mum who is as blind as a bat! (simile)
  2. My uncle can lift anything; he’s as strong as an ox (simile)

Have a notebook to hand when you are watching television,


particularly when presenters or newsreaders are talking or someone is being interviewed……

See if you can spot any similes or metaphors when events are described.  My favourite is Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear.  He used to be a journalist, so uses lots of figurative language.


Touch some every day objects……

..and find ways to describe the feel, smell or look of them.  Things like oranges, leaves, bark, lavender etc all engage different senses so can be especially inspirational.


Try a ‘feely box’ where the object is hidden and can only be touched: instinctively then phrases like ‘it feels like….’ come to mind.

Use a microscope to see something from a different perspective

leaf veinsLeaf veins look
like a map to nowhere  (simile)


Talk to adults and ask them for some old sayings.  That’s where all of the sayings for my “Gran and Grandpa’s Sayings” poem came from.

For more teaching on similes click here, and here is a link to a whole list of simile examples.

For more teaching on metaphors click here and here is a link to a whole list of metaphors.  Remember that some are more subtle than others, so if you find it hard to recognise the subtle ones, just work with more obvious statements like “The lion is the king of the jungle”.

Now that you understand about similes and metaphors, if you would like to see which of my poems use similes and metaphors look in the poem categories above (FIGURATIVE POEMS, SIMILES AND METAPHORS)