Metaphorically Speaking

The metaphor is a figure of speech.  Figures of speech, sometimes called “literary devices or techniques” are ways in which we use the language to make it richer and more interesting.

In its simplest form, a metaphor likens one thing to another, and usually relates to something that is familiar to us in our everyday lives.

Metaphors often express how we feel. “The garden is a picture of colour this summer” shows that the speaker is delighted with the appearance of the garden, and tells us that her background includes being among nature.

Annoyance can be seen by this Hong Kong city-dweller’s metaphor; “The MTR, at peak hour, is a moving can of sardines!” A metaphor can even be socially uniting; “We must all be fighters in the war against pollution”.

Can you see how metaphors make our language much more colourful and captivating, and create an image in the mind of our reader? If we say: “John is a tonic.”  What do we think of when we hear the word “tonic”? – a placebo that makes us feel better, or gives us energy.  So, “John is a tonic” is a very powerful way of saying, “John is an energetic person, who is fun to be around”.

Making up our own metaphors is an excellent way to use English and to stretch our imagination!  Write down a list of objects and then think of as many words as you can think of that relate to those objects.

Next, create a sentence using this format; “X is a . . .  .”  Look at this example, “The grey clouds are a thick lid.”  Now, we can extend that metaphor to make it even more interesting.  “Those heavy grey clouds, hanging over Hong Kong, are a thick lid, pressing down on us.”

Enjoy being creative and increasing your writing power!

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