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Similes and Metaphors

What are similes and metaphors?

They are both types of figurative language (where words and ideas are used to suggest meaning and create mental images).

Similes and metaphors both compare one thing to another. They help to make descriptive writing more interesting and imaginative.

Keep on reading to find out the difference between them!

What is a simile?

A simile is used to describe something by comparing it to something else. The words 'like' or 'as' are used.

Simile examples

Examples of smilies on a chalkboard


Many writers use similes instead of using lists of adjectives to describe something or someone. It can be an effective way to create a vivid image in the reader's mind.

For example, the author Roald Dahl used the following similes in his book, The BFG:

'The moonbeam was like a silver blade slicing through the room onto her face.'

'This was followed by an arm, an arm as thick as a tree trunk...'

'She was being bumped against the Giant's leg like a sack of potatoes.'

What is a metaphor?

A metaphor is a word (or phrase) used to describe something as if it were something else. It is a more direct comparison than a simile.

Metaphor examples

Examples of metaphores on a chalkboard


A metaphor is a more direct, stronger way of emphasising a comparison between two things.

Similes and Metaphors KS2

Lower Key Stage 2:

The National Curriculum Notes and Guidance section suggests that children in Year 3 and 4 'should demonstrate understanding of figurative language.'

In LKS2, children will usually be introduced to similes, both so that they can recognise them when reading, and begin to use them as a descriptive device in their own writing.


Upper Key Stage 2:

The National Curriculum Notes and Guidance section suggests that children in Year 5 and 6 'should be taught the technical and other terms needed for discussing what they hear and read, such as metaphor, simile, analogy, imagery, style and effect.'

The following objectives are from the Years 5 and 6 programme of study:

Reading - comprehension:

  • discuss and evaluate how authors use language, including figurative language, considering the impact on the reader.

Writing - composition:

  • in writing narratives, considering how authors have developed characters and settings in what pupils have read, listened to or seen performed

In UKS2, children will be required to identify and discuss the use of figurative language such as simile and metaphor, and encouraged to use these devices within their own writing.

LESSON PACK: Rumble in the Jungle | Using Similes | Year 2

LESSON PACK: 'Twas the Night before Christmas | Similes | Year 2

LESSON PACK: The BFG Character Description | Similes | Year 3

LESSON PACK: Cloud Tea Monkeys | Using Similes | Year 4

LESSON PACK: Stories from Space | Figurative Language | Year 5