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In this lesson, you’ll learn the definition of analogies. You’ll learn how to complete simple analogies to learn vocabulary, and you’ll explore the use of analogies in literature.

What Is an Analogy?

An analogy is a comparison between two items based on a similar characteristic or feature.

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Analogies can be very helpful when learning new vocabulary. Simple analogies are presented in pairs, with the first pair having the same relationship as the second pair. For example:

  • Nest is to bird as dam is to beaver.

In this analogy, a nest is the home a bird builds, and a dam is the home a beaver builds. The two sets of words have the same relationship.

Completing Analogies

For Bernie’s birthday, his dad hid his presents. Bernie has to use a treasure map to find the presents. The words in the blanks will be the clue to Bernie’s map. Each line on the map is an analogy that Bernie needs to complete.

  • _____ is to eyes as listen is to ears.

Look at the complete pair first.

Ears are used to listen. Next look at the incomplete pair. The word that goes in the blank should be something eyes are used to do. Eyes are used to look. The answer to the first clue is look.

  • Up is to down as out is to _____.

Up and down are opposites. The missing word should be the opposite of out. Up is to down as out is to in. The answer to the second clue is in.

  • Exhausted is to tired as ancient is to _____.

Exhausted means very tired. The missing word should have a similar relationship to the word ancient. Ancient means very old. The answer to the third clue is old.

  • Plane is to fly as _____ is to drive.

A plane moves by flying. The missing word should be something moved by driving. A car is moved by driving. The answer to the fourth clue is car.When Bernie solves the four analogies, he finds the clue: look in old car. When he goes to the driveway and looks in his dad’s old car, Bernie finds his birthday presents!

Using Analogies to Understand New Words

When you learn a new word, the best place to start is by finding a definition.

Once you know the definition, an analogy can help you to understand the word better by relating it to words you already know.For example:

  • Component is to machine as link is to chain.

The word component might be unfamiliar to you, but you may know that a link is a small piece of a chain, and many links make up a chain. Using this analogy, you can guess that one use of the word component is to describe a small part of a machine. An analogy does not give you a complete definition of a word but rather a context or use of a word.

Analogies in Literature

So far, we have looked at simple analogies. Analogies appear in this format in many vocabulary exercises and skills tests, so it’s important to be familiar with them. When used in literature and poetry, analogies are often less direct. An analogy uses a parallel comparison to emphasize a point of description, sometimes in an unexpected way.

For example:

  • Like bees around a bouquet of flowers, the students swarmed to the new playground equipment.
  • Like the clamor of a stampede of cattle, the sound of the crowded lunchroom echoed down the hallway.

Lesson Summary

Analogies make a parallel comparison based on a similar characteristic or feature.

A simple analogy contains two pairs of words with similar relationships. In literature, there are often more complex analogies that compare parallel concepts to create vivid descriptions.

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