Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Marisa from Havertown, PA. Marisa Wonders, “What is the difference between similes and metaphors?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Marisa!

On New Year’s Day, you will hear many people talk about a fresh start. You may hear people refer to the new year as a clean slate. Others may refer to the year ahead as a blank canvas, ready to be painted with new experiences.

These are all examples of figurative language. People use figurative language to get across a certain idea. In the case of New Year’s Day, they want to get across the idea that the new year is full of new possibilities.

Figurative language adds color and life to our conversations. It allows us to paint pictures with our words. Using figurative language, people create vivid word images. These help people express ideas beyond the mere words themselves.

There are many types of figurative language. One of the most common is the metaphor. That’s what people are using when they say, “The New Year is a blank canvas." Metaphors indirectly compare two unlike things. They do this by saying that one thing is the same as another.

Of course, the new year ahead is not an actual blank canvas. It’s a set of 365 days. A blank canvas, on the other hand, is a blank piece of material to paint on. By connecting the two, the metaphor says that the new year and a blank canvas share certain characteristics. For example, they can both turn into something never seen before.

The word “metaphor” comes from a Greek word meaning “to transfer.” Metaphors transfer meaning from one word to another. They do this by implying a comparison between the images and ideas associated with the words.

For example, have you ever called someone a “night owl” or an “early bird”? If so, you’ve used metaphors before! A person is obviously not an owl or a bird. However, they might have something in common with these creatures. For example, they could enjoy staying up late or getting up early.

There’s also a special type of metaphor called a simile. Similes compare two things directly using the words “like” or “as.” For example, the phrase “He’s as cold as ice” directly compares someone to ice using the word “as.”

Metaphors tend to convey stronger images than similes. That’s because metaphors indicate that something “is” something else rather than simply being “like” it. For example, “Joe is ice” tends to send a stronger message than “Joe is as cold as ice.”

Have you ever used figurative language? What could you describe with a metaphor? What two things will you compare?

Standards: CCRA.L.5, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.SL.1

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