Metaphor: Know what it is, concepts, types and how to use it

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The Portuguese language is the most complete in the world, it is not the most spoken or the most popular, but 200 years from now, when historians open the records, the most complete histories with figures of speech such as metaphor will be ours.

This is because Portuguese comes from Latin, different from the Saxon languages that underwent an influence of barbarian peoples in history, which ended up simplifying phonemes and figures of speech. 

Only our language is composed of more than 35 figures of different languages and a range of absurd possibilities capable of writing the most beautiful texts, chronicles, poems and songs.

It's no wonder that mastering the Portuguese language is one of the biggest challenges and we can't even say that we Brazilians have a complete understanding of our own language. Recently, many foreigners became famous creating content on the internet talking about our language.

It's incredible their difficulty in understanding the genres, and all the other rules composed in this linguistic sea in which we are inserted every day. And if we were to talk about all the figures of speech, it wouldn't fit in a single article.

That is why we have selected one of the best known and used practically every day by Brazilians in the most varied senses and possible connotations. 

We are talking about metaphor. And our goal will be to explain clearly and objectively all its concepts, types and ways of using it, whether in spoken or written form. We hope you enjoy the content.

What is metaphor?

A metaphor is a figure of speech that seeks to compare two different elements by linking a similarity between them. The most common is that they are used in figurative senses and in different situations that may include:

  • Animals;
  • People;
  • Goals;
  • day to day situations

These are the most used types of metaphors, it is extremely common to elucidate something that is difficult to understand. Our mind works with interrelationships of thoughts and situations. Neurons capture these relationships and make assimilations between them. 

Examples of metaphors

Let's look at some examples of metaphors that can be used daily and that will give you a better understanding of the topic.

Note that the person made a comparison of an industrial activity with something that refers to his childhood. In other words, in this sense, automation is comparable to the pasta his mother made on Sundays.

If that person were saying this to a group of friends who know their mother, it is possible that they would assimilate the many times they ate the pasta. Now, if this example had been given to people who didn't even have contact, it wouldn't make sense.

This is the metaphor that can only be introduced in places where subject knowledge exists, now see this example:

"That boy is worse than a sloth he's so slow."

Note that the comparison with the sloth, which is by nature a slower animal, is linked to the way the boy reacts to certain situations. The metaphor when put correctly can generate nicknames and funny situations for a lifetime.

Now let's look at one more example:

The idea is to refer to the feeling of happiness when being with a person or a place. Note that living in paradise is an abstract term, just like living on another planet. Until now, it is something unthinkable for our current reality.

However, this type of use of metaphor ends up demonstrating to our imagination a notion of how special it is to be in that place or with that loved one. There are several examples that can be used to explain the use of this figure of speech.

where to use metaphor 

In comedy and political speeches, metaphor is used in the most varied ways for the most varied ends. When a comedian jokes with someone in the audience, he uses various figures of speech such as irony, sarcasm and, of course, metaphor. 

In election times, there are politicians who, no matter how erudite they are, do not attract the public's attention. For example, if you're going to make an explanation about maybe using technical terms people won't understand. 

Now, when politicians use simple language, metaphorical speech techniques that produce impactful phrases and mark the lives of voters and are often used at different times. 

It is important within written and spoken language to involve people in their imagination. People's imagination is built in childhood and in the artistic influence that people are subjected to throughout their lives, that's why reading is so important.

The metaphor can only be understood by people when there is a greater understanding of the world. And that's why children don't understand adult games or the younger ones find comments from the older ones funny, or meaningless.

The truth is that time, reading and life experience will improve your understanding of metaphors and create metaphorical sentences more correctly. This is the need to know how to use it at the appropriate times, whether in text or speech. 

Don't confuse metaphor with comparison

Metaphor is the conjunction of a junction of terms that make assimilation without making the comparison explicit. When we compare a person to something it is common for us to use the words “like”; "equal to"; “such” and others.

An example: “The Palmeiras team is as good as Real Madrid in Spain.” 

Note that we used the Palmeiras team and compared it with the Spanish team. See that this refers to an assimilation, but it is not intrinsic like the metaphorical case that we will give next.  

“Palmeiras is the Real Madrid of the Americas.” 

Note that instead of “how” we use “is” giving a direct idea that Palmeiras is the Real Madrid of the Americas, that is, the sentence is marked by the absence of expressions that explicitly indicate something.

It is very common for people who are studying metaphors to end up making this mistake, after all, it is believed that to make a good metaphor it is enough to make a comparison, but it is not quite that simple.  

Consider doing some exercises on the subject. There is a lot of excellent content on the free internet that can expand your knowledge on the subject. Studying with practical exercises is recording knowledge on your HD.

Notice that in this last sentence we made a metaphor with the ability to register knowledge from our brain to a computer's hard drive. If you don't exercise, it will be like writing in the sand, as soon as the water passes, everything will go out. 

And in the latter case, we compare the absence of the practice of mental exercises to the knowledge that disappears with time. 

Final considerations

When we talk about a figure of speech, it is necessary to understand each one separately and then identify the ways to put them together. This is the biggest difficulty when we talk about the Portuguese language, understanding the opportunities to build a good text. 

Don't forget that the metaphor cannot be used with expressions that indicate it explicitly, but on the contrary, despite making a direct assimilation, it must be between the lines for the understanding of the most attentive.

Related phrases and sarcasm can also be used to engage the audience if your goal is to make a good speech or try to sell yourself in everyday situations of yours or even conquer a loved one. 

Our last tip is to read a lot, the more you read, the greater your ability to capture the use of these metaphors, as you will be adding words to your vocabulary and increasing your imagination.

We hope that today's text has been extremely helpful. Make him your guide and follow our guidelines and in this way it will be possible to understand and even develop new metaphors.