Personification is a type of figurative
in the English
Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses
Personification is when
we give a human characteristic to
something that is not human, such as an object or an animal.
personify things to give good descriptions and help readers form
pictures in their minds.
As with other types of figurative language, sentences with
cannot be understood literally
That means that you cannot
believe it word for word. Instead, you have to understand its
(To better understand the difference between figurative and literal
meanings, read Figurative
Let us look at an example
to the ground.
In this sentence, the leaves are being personified
That means they are
given the human characteristic of dancing.
Humans can dance,
but leaves cannot.
are giving the leaves the human characteristic of
dancing to show the reader how they gracefully fell to the ground.
The leaves fell off the tree and floated to the ground.
Here is another example of personification:
flowers were begging
We know that flowers do
not have mouths and they cannot really ask us
. We are giving the flowers the human
begging to show that they are in need of water. They are starting to
dry up and they really need someone to water them.
Here are some more common examples of personification.
- My stomach
(I felt hungry.)
- Tom's pencil was
flying across the page.
(Tom was writing fast.)
- The ocean waves ran
across the beach.
(The waves were covering the
- The old door
moaned in protest as it opened.
(The old door creaked
because it had not been opened for a long time.)
- The moon
guarded the city at night.
(The moon was shining over the
- His hair was
dancing in the wind.
(His hair was moving in the wind.)
- The angry rain
pounded on my windows.
(The rain was falling hard
against the windows.)
- The red light
(A red traffic light is a signal to stop your car.)
- The apples
jumped off the tree.
(The apples were falling to the ground.)
- The wind
caressed her cheeks.
(The wind moved across her face.)
- The trees were
waving in the wind.
(The wind was blowing and moving the tree limbs.)
- Nick's puppy
barked a sad goodbye.
(Nick's puppy was barking at him as he left.)
- The painting
spoke to me about my childhood.
(The painting made me think about when I was a child.)
- The tornado
attacked the city and wrecked
(The tornado caused a lot of damage.)
- My jacket
hugged me in the cold snow.
(I was wearing the jacket and it kept me warm.)
Personification in poetry
Personification is very
common in poetry. Writers use personification because it helps readers
visual pictures in their minds. Personification can also add humor in
Here are two poems that contain examples of personification. In each
poem, the objects and personification are colored green.
Here are some definitions to help you understand the first poem better
- weary = tired
- dew = drops of water
- arranged = set; get into position
- topaz = blue-green color
- tortoises = turtles
Two Sunflowers Move in the Yellow
by William Blake
"Ah, William, we're weary of
said the sunflowers,
shining with dew.
traveling habits have tired us.
you give us a room with a view?"
They arranged themselves
at the window
and counted the steps of the sun,
and they both took root in the carpet
where the topaz tortoises
this poem, the sunflowers are being personified. To understand this
poem, you have to know that sunflowers are a type of flower that always
turn toward the sun.
two sunflowers are telling William that they are tired of the changes
in the weather outside. They want to be put inside in a window where
the sun shines in on them all day.
They counted the
steps of the sun
means that they moved with the sunlight
as it came through the window.
They took root
in the carpet
means they stayed in that room for a long
The second personification poem gives human characteristics to your
food at dinnertime. Personification is used in this poem to add humor.
- chorus = music
- cackled = laughed
- chattered = talked
- gurgled = talked; made noises
- clan = family
by Sharon Hendricks
The teapot sang
as the water boiled
The ice cubes cackled
in their glass
the teacups chattered
to one another.
While the chairs
were passing gas
The gravy gurgled
As the oil danced
in a pan.
Oh my dinnertime chorus
What a lovely, lovely
This poem describes the sounds you hear while dinner is being
prepared. Each object makes its own sound creating a "dinnertime
This was an overview of personification. Now that you understand,
time to practice! Get
our ESL Books.
Get Updates, Special Offers, and English Resources