Examples of Personification: What It Is and How to Use It

Everyone knows what a person is, but do you know what personification is? Personification is a type of metaphor and a common literary tool. It is when you assign the qualities of a person to something that isn't human or that isn't even alive, such as nature or household items. Explore these personification examples to see how well you understand the concept.

Suffering green car needing TLC Suffering green car needing TLC
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What Is Personification?

Personification is a literary technique writers use to add human qualities to non-human things. It helps the reader relate to and create a picture in their mind when stars dance or opportunities knock. Explore a few famous examples of personification in literature.

Two Sunflowers Move Into the Yellow Room by Nancy Willard

In this poem, the sunflowers are talking to the famous poet William Blake. They are tired of being outside and tell him that they want to be moved. We know that sunflowers cannot be tired or talk, so Willard uses personification to give them these attributes.

"'Ah, William, we're weary of weather,’
said the sunflowers, shining with dew.
Our traveling habits have tired us.
Can 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 run.”

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth's poem brings the beauty and tranquility of nature to life. The daffodils are personified as a crowd of people dancing, while Wordsworth floats like a cloud enjoying the show.

"I wandered lonely as a cloud
that floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.”

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

The great William Shakespeare uses personification throughout Romeo and Juliet. One example is in Act 2 when Friar Lawrence is picking flowers for his various potions. In describing the morning as smiling at the night, he is personifying the morning and establishing a romantic setting for Romeo and Juliet's love to unfold.

"The grey-ey'd morn smiles on the frowning night,
Chequering the eastern clouds with streaks of light."

Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In the poem "Paul Revere's Ride," Longfellow uses personification to describe the flow of the wind. The way he words the passage makes it easy to see the wind swirling past the tents. Check out an excerpt of this poem.

"Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,—
A line of black, that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats."
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Whatif by Shel Silverstein

Famous poet and author Shel Silverstein uses personification to show how doubts can crawl into your mind. This effective literary device creates a beautiful image in your mind of the doubts filling this child.

"Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I'm dumb in school?
Whatif they've closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there's poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don't grow talle?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won't bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!"

Why Use Personification?

There are many reasons for using personification. It can be used as a method of describing something so that others can more easily understand it. It can be used to emphasize a point. You can also use personification to help paint a picture in your mind. You may even use personification without knowing it.

Ways to Use Personification

Personification is all about giving your writing more pop! For example, rather than saying, "The stars twinkled in the sky," you can say, "The stars danced playfully in the moonlit sky." The second sentence adds an illustrative effect to the sentence. In your mind, you can see the twinkling stars dancing in the moonlight. Explore a few examples of how personification adds to the sentence meaning.

  • The run-down house appeared depressed.
  • The first rays of morning tiptoed through the meadow.
  • He did not realize that his last chance was walking out the door.
  • The bees played hide and seek with the flowers as they buzzed from one to another.
  • The snow swaddled the earth like a mother would her infant child.
  • The river swallowed the earth as the water continued to rise higher and higher.
  • The ocean waves lashed out at the boat, and the storm continued to brew.
  • My computer throws a fit every time I try to use it.
  • The thunder grumbled like an old man.
  • The flowers waltzed in the gentle breeze.
  • Her life wandered past.
  • The sun glared down at me from the sky.
  • The car was suffering and was in need of some TLC.
  • At precisely 6:30 AM, my alarm clock sprang to life.
  • The window panes were talking as the wind blew through them.
  • The ocean danced in the moonlight.
  • The words leapt off of the paper as she read the story.
  • The phone awakened with a mighty ring.
  • The funeral raced by me in a blur.
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Find the Personification Examples

Do you think that you understand what personification is? Then you might want to try your hand at finding personification in a sentence. Remember, it gives human behaviors and gestures to nonhuman things or ideas.

  1. The car, painted lime green, raced by screaming for attention.
  2. The butterflies in the meadow seemed to two-step with one another.
  3. The thunder yelled angrily in the distance.
  4. The tornado ran through town without a care.
  5. The door protested as it opened slowly.
  6. The evil tree was lurking in the shadows.
  7. The tree branch moaned as I swung from it.
  8. Time marches to the beat of its own drum.
  9. The storm attacked the town with great rage.
  10. My life came screeching to a halt.
  11. The blizzard swallowed the town.
  12. The tsunami raced towards the coastline.
  13. The avalanche devoured everything in its path.
  14. The pistol glared at me from its holster.
  15. I could hear Hawaii calling my name.

Find the Personification Examples Answers

The subject of the personification and the human characteristic it was assigned are both in bold. How many did you get right?

  1. The car, painted lime green, raced by screaming for attention.
  2. The butterflies in the meadow seemed to two-step with one another.
  3. The thunder yelled angrily in the distance.
  4. The tornado ran through town without a care.
  5. The door protested as it opened slowly.
  6. The evil tree was lurking in the shadows.
  7. The tree branch moaned as I swung from it.
  8. Time marches to the beat of its own drum.
  9. The storm attacked the town with great rage.
  10. My life came screeching to a halt.
  11. The blizzard swallowed the town.
  12. The tsunami raced towards the coastline.
  13. The avalanche devoured everything in its path.
  14. The pistol glared at me from its holster.
  15. I could hear Hawaii calling my name.
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Personification vs. Anthropomorphism

There is often confusion between personification and anthropomorphism. While they are similar, there is a distinct difference.

  • Personification is when you give an object or animal human behaviors. An example of personification would be in the nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle,” where “the little dog laughed to see such fun.”
  • Anthropomorphism is when you make an object or animal dress and behave like a human. An example of anthropomorphism is Peter Rabbit, a bunny who wears a coat and talks.

So, personification gives human traits while anthropomorphism makes something act like a human. Most Disney moves use anthropomorphism.

Purpose of Personification

As seen by the examples, personification is used to assign human qualities to things that are not human, but it does not make them completely behave like a human. The purpose of this figurative language is to bring inanimate things to life to better explain them. Writers often use personification to make their writing more vivid and to have the reader understand the object or animal in a better way. Keep having fun with this literary device by checking out humorous examples of personification in poetry.