English Homework Help for 4th Grade: Metaphors

In the 4th grade, you'll start receiving homework concerning figurative language. Metaphors are one of the tools of figurative language that you'll need to know. Keep reading to learn about the basics of metaphors, so you can be successful on your assignments.

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Help with 4th Grade Metaphor Homework

The Basics

A metaphor is a literary tool often used by writers to show comparisons. Its function is similar to that of a simile, except metaphors don't use the words like or as. Instead, they directly state that one thing is another thing. Remember that metaphors are a form of figurative language, which means the words should not be taken literally. Instead, find the symbolic meaning of the words. Some examples include:

My life is a roller coaster.
That wrestler is an animal.
Andrew's little sister is an angel.

Metaphor Parts

Metaphors consist of several specific parts, and knowing how to identify the parts may help you figure out what they mean. Furthermore, you might be asked to identify them on homework assignments.


Like the subject in a sentence, the tenor is the subject of a metaphor. The metaphor is about the tenor. Generally, this part of the metaphor comes first. In the examples below, the tenor is in bold:

Her smile is sunshine.
This room is an oven.
My school is a prison.


The vehicle is the image used as a comparison to the tenor. Using the example sentences above, the vehicle is in bold below.

Her smile is sunshine.
This room is an oven.
My school is a prison.

Connecting Verb

As its name suggests, the connecting verb provides the link between the tenor and the vehicle. Most commonly, some form of to be is used. Just like sentences must contain a verb, metaphors must also contain the connecting verb.

Susan is a social butterfly.
The students are robots.
Jerry was a rocket at the last track meet.

The Simple Metaphor

As a 4th grade student, you'll mainly be required to recognize simple metaphors, which are metaphors in which only one comparison is made. The example sentences in all of the preceding sections are simple metaphors. In many cases, you'll also have to explain the meaning of these metaphors. If you get stuck, contemplate how the tenor (the subject) is similar to the vehicle.

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