15 Examples of Personification in Everyday Speech, Literature, and Culture

Are you confused about personification? Read on to find out examples of personification how this shows up in your writing.

Literary devices are figurative language tools that help writing convey meaning more effectively. Many writers use these well, and personification is one such literary device. Personification gives human traits to something that is not human, and this is an example of personification. Here is an example:

The sunflowers raised their yellow heads and winked their eyes at the morning sun.

Sunflowers do not have eyes and human heads, yet this sentence clearly conveys the imagery the writer meant for it to have. 

This guide will take a closer look at what personification is and how it impacts your writing.

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What Is an Example of Personification?

Examples of personification

Before looking at examples of personification, you first need to know what it is. Personification is a type of metaphor that gives human qualities to something that is not human. In other words, the inanimate object or non-human animal is described using human terms. 

This particular literary device is often used to make scenes more interesting. Giving non-human entities human characteristics helps the reader relate better to what the writer says. Learning to personify well can make your writing more interesting. You might also find our guide on the best euphemism examples for everyday use helpful.

Everyday Speech Examples of Personification

Personification happens in both everyday speech and literature. Giving human attributes or a human ability to a thing makes it more relatable. Here are some examples:

1. Romance novels became her favorite companions after her breakup.

Examples of personification
Personification happens in both everyday speech and literature

Novels can’t be companions, so this is a use of personification.

2. The old typewriter called out to the writer, encouraging him to put his ideas to print.

Again, a typewriter cannot call someone, so this is another example.

3. The sun crawled away below the horizon, slowly closing its eyes like an old man at the end of the day.

Here, the author could simply say, “The sun set,” but the addition of human actions, like crawling and closing one’s eyes, creates a far more descriptive narrative.

4. My phone yells at me when it’s time to go to bed at night.

Phones cannot yell.

5. The tree waved its leaves to say, “Hello.”

Trees are not going to say anything. Also, waving implies using hands.

6. The last piece of cake is calling my name.

Cake cannot verbally call you.

7. The cactus stood at attention while the soldiers drove by.

This sentence brings to mind the image of a cactus standing tall and saluting, which it cannot do. 

8. The frost spread its icy fingers across the window pane.

Frost does not have human fingers.

9. The moon smiled down on us as we strolled along the river.

A moon cannot smile.

Examples of Personification in Literature

Personification is a common literary device used in famous works of literature. Here are some examples high school students often study:

10. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

In Hamlet, Shakespeare writes:

“The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”

This famous line brings to mind images of fortune shooting arrows or throwing stones from a sling. Though these can hurt, they are not something fortune can actually throw. Thus, the playwright is using personification to show just how dangerous fortune can be.

11. “Dancing Pants” by Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein is famous for his whimsical poetry written for children. “Dancing Pants” is a classic example of personification when it says:

“Doing their fabulous dance.

From the seat to the pleat

They will bounce to the beat,”

The poem describes pants as they dance, which is a fun way to give a human trait to lifeless pants.

12. “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson

In the poem “Because I Could Not Stop for Death, Dickinson personifies the abstract idea of death. The first two lines do this:

“Because I could not stop for Death

He kindly stopped for me.”

Throughout the poem, death is treated as a human being as she studies the conflict between mortality and immortality.

Personification in Pop Culture

Personification also shows up in pop culture. From advertisements to cartoons, you will find this literary device in many of the items you view on the television. Here are some examples:

13. “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast

In the song “Be Our Guest,” plates and silverware dance a show-stopping number while they feed the soon-to-be princess Belle a dazzlingly delightful meal. All throughout this seen, you see personification in the household items that put on the show.

14. The Geico Gecko

Geico, a car insurance company, has a fun little green mascot, the Geico Gecko. This little guy walks on his hind legs and talks in a unique accent. He is an example of anthropomorphism, which is an exaggerated form of personification. 

Anthropomorphism gives an animal or inanimate object full personhood. The creature can walk, talk and think. 

15. Inside Out

The movie Inside Out personifies human emotions by giving them actual human faces and motivations. This movie sheds some light on how our emotions control us and giving them human traits makes them easier to understand.

A Final Word on Examples of Personification

Personification is something people do every day, often without thinking. In literature, however, it can be an intentional action that makes writing more meaningful. Like other literary elements, like alliteration or hyperbole, it transforms writing into something people enjoy reading. If you liked this post, you might also be interested in our guide on using a tone words list to improve your writing.

As you learn to write English, learn to recognize personification. Then weave the tool into your writing to make it feel more expressive, warm and comfortable.

FAQs About Examples of Personification

What is an example of personification?

Personification is a type of figurative language that makes something that is not human have human traits. Here is an example of personification:
The clock seemed to stare at him with probing eyes as the time ticked away.

Is heart an example of personification?

If you say that an animal or object has heart, but not necessarily the actual organ, you could be using personification. Here is how that might look:
The dog’s heart broke when he was dropped off at the pound.
This use of heart is the emotion the dog feels, and some would argue that they do not have this kind of heart like a human does.

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  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.

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