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How Do I Identify Sentences with Similes?

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  • Written By: Alicia Sparks
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2016
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Before you can identify sentences with similes, it’s important you fully understand the definition of a simile. A simile is a figure of speech often used in poems and other types of literature, often to compare two essentially different things. Sentences with similes often include the words “like,” “as,” or “than” somewhere within the part of the sentence that makes the comparison. Similarly, a metaphor is a figure of speech that makes a comparison between to unlike things. Readers should not confuse similes and metaphors, however, as a simile points out how two things are similar whereas a metaphor says one thing is another.

When looking for sentences with similes, look for sentences that compare two things that are normally different from one another. Usually, these two things are nouns, which means they are people, places, or things. Common examples of two unlike things being compared to one another include comparing a human and an animal, a human and an inanimate object, and an animal and an inanimate object. Note that some sentences with similes might compare more abstract and intangible things, such as thoughts, behaviors, and other actions. Saying a person’s temper is like a tornado, for example, is a simile involving a behavior or intangible object.

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Perhaps the most common trick that can help you identify sentences with similes is to look for the words “like,” “as,” or “than” in the sentence. Keep in mind these words can’t be just anywhere in the sentence. Usually, for one of these words to mark a simile, it must be used between the two unlike nouns that are being compared. For example, in the sentence “Life is like an onion,” “like” is between “life” and “onion,” which are seemingly unlike one another but are involved in a comparison. Likewise, in the simile “He is as strong as an ox,” “as” is in between the two nouns being compared, which are the human being and the ox.

Similes are often confused with metaphors, and vice versa. Most likely, the confusion stems from the fact that both of these kinds of figures of speech make comparisons between two unlike nouns. Readers should understand that these comparisons are different, though. Similes state that something is “like” something else, whereas metaphors state that something “is” something else. For example, stating “the sun is like a morning’s kiss” is a simile, and stating "the sun is a kiss from the morning” is a metaphor.

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