How To Use Personification

Time came to a standstill as the Earth stood back and observed the weeping clouds shed tears on the tops of the calm pine trees, lightly showering their leaves, as the midnight rain danced to the ground.

In this sentence, we gave the nonhuman objects like the Earth, clouds, and pine trees human-like qualities, and descriptions to paint a visual in the reader’s mind.

Personification can take any boring sentence and transform it into a piece of art. The Oxford Languages definition of personification is the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form.

Personification is a way to give rich descriptions that help set the tone and mood, while also providing imagery to the reader. Personification paints things in a way that would not make literal sense, but they make sense contextually as we can visualize the actions taking place. From a literary perspective, we understand that ‘weeping clouds shedding tears’ are in reality just rain coming from the clouds and not clouds literally crying.

Giving the human characteristic of crying to the clouds in the sky helps set the tone, mood, and setting of the writing. We associate crying with sadness, which gives the reader the idea that it is a dismal day. This helps give the writing a dark and somber mood even though it was never explicitly mentioned. With this word choice, we can set the mood of the piece and help the reader dive deeper into the written piece.

Personification is just one of the many figures of speech used in the English language that helps to richen the language and keep it from being boring and lifeless. Our challenge to you this week is to write a sentence that uses at least one personifying describer to describe a non-human object. You may use the first sentence of this article as a reference to get you started. Good luck!

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