Hi. I'm Gill from www.engvid.com,
and today in this lesson, we're going to look at metaphors,
which are a different way of using language, really. But these metaphors are used a lot
in everyday life. You could also call them idioms. They're a little bit like idioms.
And there are a lot of them.
But I just want to mention that there are metaphors and similes, and they're similar
in a way, but different. So, a metaphor says one thing is another thing. So, for example,
in my first sentence, here:
"Thanks for helping me - you're an angel!"
Okay? An angel is supposed to be a good person who helps people,
but you're talking here to an ordinary human being
and calling them an angel because they've helped you. Okay. So, you're saying:
"You are an angel."
So, "you" equals "angel". So, in a metaphor, it's saying something is or
somebody is something else. The other type of style of speaking is called a simile, and
we'll have another lesson on that; a separate lesson. And with a simile, you don't say "A"
is "B", you say "A" is like "B". So, with this one, you'd say:
"You are like an angel."
Or: "You are as good as an angel."
But with the metaphor: "You are an angel." So that's
the difference between metaphors and similes. So, please look at the other lesson about
similes to see some examples of that. Okay?
Right, so concentrating on metaphors.
"Thanks for helping me - you're an angel!" if someone
helps you. You could say this to somebody if they help you.
"Thank you - you're an angel."
It's a nice compliment, a nice thing to say to somebody who's helped you.
"The people in that club are just a bunch of sheep!"
Okay? "A bunch", that's just sort of casual, informal word.
"A bunch", it means a group. A group.
A group of people.
You can have a bunch of flowers. That's the normal use for "bunch". Bunch of flowers,
several flowers held together. But this is people who are being called sheep. They're
not literally sheep. People are not sheep; sheep are animals, people are humans. But
this is saying the people in that club are a bunch of sheep. They're behaving like sheep,
because what sheep do, they all stick together, they all stay together, and they all follow
each other. They all do the same thing. So this happens with people sometimes. They...
They don't have their own independent ideas; they just copy what everybody else does. So
that's the meaning of this... This one. The people in that club are just a bunch of sheep.
This one is probably more of a positive thing to say to somebody:
"You're such a busy bee!"
It maybe sounds a bit patronizing, perhaps. But if someone is really busy, you can say
they're a busy bee. And the two b's is a sort of poetic thing, again. But busy bee. The
thing about bees is... The bees that buzz around, they... They're always busy. They're
collecting pollen from flowers, and going back to the hive, and they're making honey.
So they seem to be busy all the time. So, to call a person a busy bee is that they are
also running around and doing things, and being very busy and working a lot, and never
Here's another one:
"London is a melting pot of people and cultures."
Okay, so London is a melting pot.
It's not literally a pot with food in it. It's a melting pot of people and
cultures. The people and cultures aren't being thrown into a pot. London, the city, just
contains a lot of people from different cultures and different countries. Okay.
Here's a good one from if you're... If you're working in an office or somewhere and you
have some ideas, and you tell them to your boss:
"I had some good ideas but my boss shot them down."
Okay? So to shoot something is like with a gun, [shooting noises], all these
good ideas that you've just produced, and your boss doesn't like them or he doesn't
like you maybe. But he shoots down your... All your ideas, and they come falling to the
floor. Not literally. Again, it's not literally true. Not literally true. It's just a picture
in your mind, like your boss with a gun, shooting down your ideas. So he doesn't like any of
your ideas, he just shoots them. Destroys them. So, you had some good ideas, but my
boss shot them down. Okay?
"My head is so full of problems, it's spinning."
To spin is to go around, and around, and around, and around, like that. To spin.
Well, your head can't literally be
going around, and around, and around, and around, and around because it would kill you
probably if that happened. After two or three turns, you'd be dead. So it can't be true,
literally. It's just a picture in your mind of your head. All these problems inside your
head, it's making it feel, "Ooo", like that. Okay? So it's not literally true; it's just
an image, a picture.
Now, here's a slightly different one:
"Her dress has a very loud pattern."
If you... Oh, I don't have a pattern on. This... Oh. This scarf has a slight pattern, stripes.
It has some stripes and some slightly different colours, but I wouldn't call that a loud pattern.
If the pattern is loud, it's very strong. Lots of different colours and shapes, something
really strong. So, "loud", it's not to do with the sound in this case, it's to do with
how it looks. So "loud" and "soft" for music, yes, but for a pattern, a loud pattern.
So, next one:
"People are flocking to the pop concert."
Now, the metaphor here is this
word: "flocking". And it goes back to sheep, because the collective word for sheep is a
flock of sheep. So, when you see sheep running across a field, they're all in a bunch. Like
we said, bunch of sheep. But the proper name for that bunch is a flock. So, if people are
flocking to the pop concert, it's like they're sheep again. We're back to the sheep. So it's
a little bit metaphorical, if you like. They're not just going, people are going to the pop
concert; they're flocking in big groups, all going to the same place. Okay.
Right, now this is about two people who were good friends, but... Oh:
"at first, but then things turned sour".
Now, usually in the literal world, things that turn sour are things like
milk. If you leave milk too long and you taste it, "ewl", horrible, that sort of cheesy taste.
Not very nice at all. And this has the same idea, really. Two people who are good friends
to begin with, at first, but then things turned sour. It goes wrong. Something goes wrong.
They're not friends anymore. Maybe they had an argument, they disagreed.
Things turned sour. Okay.
And let's end with quite a famous quotation from Shakespeare. I like quoting from Shakespeare;
he's one of my favourite writers. And what he said in one of his plays, he said:
"All the world's a stage."
He's talking about the theatre, because he wrote plays, he was a
man of the theatre. So, he's saying all the world is a stage. Wherever you go, not just
in the theatre, but everywhere. Because people are acting in some way.
"And all the men and women merely players",
"merely", that means "just". Just players. Just. And "players"
is another word for actors. Okay. They're just actors, people. He's saying people just
act their part, even if they're not in the theatre, they're playing a part in some way.
That's what... Well, it's not Shakespeare saying it. It's one of his characters in one
of his plays is saying it, so it's a bit different. So it's just one person's opinion in the play.
"All the world's a stage. And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits",
they go off, "and their entrances", they come in. They come and go. And they come
and go. And they do what they do, they say what they say, and this character thinks they're
acting, just like in a theatre. So this is what's called an extended metaphor. Okay?
Because we've got a metaphor, and adding... It's adding more and more ideas to it.
"All the world's a stage", that's a simple metaphor, but then say more in the same way:
"All the men and women are actors".
They come in, they go out, they come in. So lots of different
things that fit into that metaphor.
Okay, so I hope I've helped you to understand metaphors, whether English is your first language
and you're studying English literature at school, or whether you're studying English
as a second language or as a foreign language, I hope this has been helpful, and given you
some more vocabulary as well. And do look for the other lesson, which is about similes.
And this one, the metaphors, we have a quiz for you on the website: www.engvid.com.
Please go and give it a try.
And see you again soon.