Have you ever noticed how many times your friends say, "It's like . . ." or "I'm like . . . "? They aren't always creating similes, but they are attempting to simulate something (often a conversation). The word like signifies a direct comparison between two things that are alike in a certain way. Usually one of the elements of a simile is concrete and the other abstract. "My love is like a red, red rose" writes Robert Burns. He's talking about the rose's beauty when it's in full bloom (he tells us that it's May in the next line). "Love is like a rose" is a simpler version of the simile, but it's a more dangerous version. (A black rose? A dead rose in December? The thorns of a rose?) Sometimes similes force us to consider how the two things being compared are dissimilar, but the relationship between two dissimilar things can break down easily, so similes must be rendered delicately and carefully.

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