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Is it correct to make an analogy like this?

"It's like throwing yourself into a lion's den!" I'm not looking for any kind of idioms. In fact, I'm emphasizing on the usage of the first part of my sentence above. It's like ... .

How do you say "doing something is like doing something else" in English in the case that you would like to start with a subject pronoun like "it" or "this" and so on? Is it proper to start with "It's like"? I know I'm not a native speaker, it sounds a little stilted to me nevertheless.

Don't sign that contract because it's like having yourself to ask for a permission whenever you want to use your own money!

Isn't this ungrammatical/unnatural? thoughts?

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"It's like throwing yourself into a lion's den!" is perfectly fine. It's an example of a simile, which just means a figure of speech (something not meant literally) that involves comparing something with something else.

"Don't sign that contract because it's like having yourself to ask for a permission whenever you want to use your own money!" is an ungrammatical mess.

You could rephrase it as "Don't sign that contract because it's like having to ask for permission whenever you want to use your own money!", which is grammatically correct. However, it doesn't feel like a simile any more - it feels more like a literal description of what will happen.

Similes involve metaphor - the "mapping" of something onto something else. In the first one, the metaphor is telling us that it will be extremely painful and unpleasant, because lions eat people who are thrown into their den (or at least that is the popular understanding - the truth may be more complicated but the metaphor is not necessarily based on truth. For all we know the lions might ignore you).

In the second example, it's not clear what the two different things actually are, or if we're just talking about the same thing all the way through.

EDIT: to expand on "It's like" - there's an assumption that the listener/reader will know what you are referring to: eg it will have been the subject of a previous sentence or part of the sentence, eg "Don't sign that contract - it's like throwing yourself into a lion's den!". Here, "it" would be taken to mean "signing the contract".

  • More than anything else, I tremendously cherish the new word I've learned: "simile"! Thank you very much. – M-J Aug 3 '16 at 15:25
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Analogies are quite common in everyday, informal speaking. If anything, however, Americans tend to use the same tired analogies ad infinitum. Here are a few examples:

  • Jim's old car sticks out like a sore thumb when it's parked on the street.

  • Sally's joke went over like a lead balloon at the party last night.

  • Harry throws a baseball like a little girl.

  • You're repeating yourself like a broken record. [This one would be understood by only folks who know that a record player's tonearm can get "stuck" in a certain location on the record and repeat the same snippet of music over and over again until someone gives the tonearm a little push to get it unstuck.]

My point is that you needn't be self-conscious about using analogies; just make sure you put some thought into them before parroting the same tired analogies, as above.

Furthermore, I do not see anything wrong with starting a sentence with

It's like . . ..

Perhaps when using analogies in writing, you should put a little more original thinking into their construction. Compare the construction of the following two analogies.

  1. I told Dick to stop trying to get a date with Linda, who is way above him in attractiveness. I said, "It's like beating a dead horse!"

  2. When I found out Dick was still trying to get a date with Linda, I said to him, "Dick, my man, you are barking up the wrong tree! Joyce is more your speed. At least she's accessible."

I am not claiming that number two, above, is a great--or even original--analogy, but as you can see there is no need to include the word like in number two's analogy. We get the picture that Dick's efforts, like those of a hunting dog, are totally inappropriate and futile if they are focused on the wrong prey, so to speak. (The dog may think he has treed a raccoon, when in fact it's just a kitty cat.)

Additionally, at least in number two, there is no need to use the word like, since the analogy is implied, and it communicates that Dick, in his attempt to get a date with the lovely Linda, has set his sights on the wrong gal.

  • I appreciate your complete explanation, and I exactly understand what you mean when you say "Stop parroting and put your thought into what you're going to say", However, It's really a hard thing for me to do since I'm not a native English speaker and most of the times I find it really challenging to describe things that are in front of the eyes of my mind! I think I have a long way to go to get up there, anyway. :) – M-J Aug 3 '16 at 16:05

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