Metaphors and similes have a lot in common, so much in fact that it is really easy to confuse one for the other when using them, there are a few subtle differences that make the two different that one should know if they want to make the most out of these figures of speech. The best way to tell the difference between metaphor and simile is to first understand what the two are supposed to do, once you understand their concept you should not have a hard time in understanding their application.

Metaphors and similes are meant to attach a symbolic meaning or comparison of one thig with another, they both are made to serve a poetic purpose and add more feeling to how you can describe someone or something in your writing. We use these figures of speech quite commonly, like when coming back from work one might say that, “The office was like a warzone today.” Now, it goes without saying that the office could not really have been a warzone, but this sentence does help in effectively conveying just how chaotic was the office today.

You might be wondering now that whether the example given above was of a simile or of a metaphor, this example shows the use of a simile, how we know this is because of the use of the word “like” to make the connection between the office and the warzone. Similes are a lot more direct than metaphors, when a simile is used, explicit words such as “like” or “as” are used to make the comparison more direct.

Metaphors, on the other hand, are a lot more subtle and sound more poetic as well, just like similes they make symbolic associations of one thing with another in order to add color to a sentence. However, they do not make use of explicit wordings, this allows them to sound more mysterious and more poetic than a simile.

The use for both of these figures of speech is quite similar, however, depending on whether you use a simile or a metaphor, your sentence’s overall feel would be effected as well. For example, if instead of saying, “The office was like a warzone today.” you could make this statement sound more poetic by saying, “The office is a warzone.” in both cases, the sentence is implying that for some reason or the other, the office has a pretty chaotic environment.

Notice how the symbolic attachment makes understanding the basic idea of the statement easier, along with adding a bit of flare to your sentences, similes and metaphors can also help in making it easier to deliver your meaning to the receiver. You can use them to make your writing more lively or to make delivering your ideas easier, they can be especially useful if you are trying to explain something that the reader might find to be abstract or if it is something to which they might have a hard time relating to.

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