Personification words are no different than many words you use on a daily basis.
The difference is that personification words do not describe humans and their qualities or tendencies. They just use the same style of wording to describe that which is inanimate, intangible, and incapable of its own action and dialogue. Read through the examples on this page and come to realize that personification words are easier to come by than you might think. They are all around you, waiting to be used in new and creative ways in your writing.
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Some personification words are speak, tell, shiver, caress, smile, whistle, stare, collect, inspire, and anger. There are so many more, but we'll just start with those personification word examples. Let's look at some personification word examples of each of these to get a better idea how they would be used in different situations, depending on if a person or an object is being described. The first example in each instance will be the regular use of each word to describe human tendencies or qualities. The second example in each instance will be the personified example, and an inanimate or intangible object will be described using the same word as was found in the first sentence.
1. The girl smiled happily at her date.
2. The sun smiled down on me.
In the second sentence, the sun cannot truly smile, so the sentence is merely trying to convey that the sun is making someone happy. The person must feel good about something going on in his or her life or must just be in a good mood overall.
1. He always whistles the "Andy Griffith" theme song.
2. The wind whistled through the trees.
The second sentence shows (here we have another example of personification, because obviously sentences cannot really "show" anything) that the wind is whistling, but wind does not have lips, and therefore is not really capable of producing the sound of a whistle.
1. The man stared at me as if he was daring me to try again.
2. The phone was staring at me, daring me to give up on waiting for the call.
Phones do not have eyes, and therefore cannot really stare at anything, but people may feel that they are waiting so long for a call that their stares are being returned by the phone that is not showing any sign of ringing. Also, phones cannot make dares, as the second sentence conveys that it is doing.
1. Max collected his belongings before leaving for the day.
2. It was clear that the table had collected dust, as the sun shone through the window.
Tables and other inanimate objects cannot really "collect" anything, but a person can collect belongings, money, or other tangible items.
1. The teacher inspired her students to write interesting term papers.
2. The flag inspired me to show my patriotism.
You normally hear the word inspire when someone is inspired to do something by someone else. A flag is not a person, and therefore is not capable of human characteristics, so "inspires" becomes a personification word in this instance.
1. Bob angered me with his incessant rambling about his break-up with Mary.
2. The computer angered the typist when it lost his document.
Computers cannot get angry because they are not capable of human emotions.
1. She spoke to me as if she was angry with my decision to quit my job.
2. The earrings spoke to the girl, making her want to buy them all that much more.
In this case, earrings are not capable of speaking, but are obviously letting off a powerful vibe for the girl in the sentence, as she really wants to buy them for herself.
1. You can tell Maria that dinner will be at six o'clock next Sunday.
2. The clock told me that I was running late when I realized it was five and I was due at work at four.
Clocks cannot speak or tell things, so "told" becomes the personified word in the second sentence.
1. Katelyn shivered on the cold, winter day.
2. The leaves on the tree shivered as the wind rustled them and turned them white with frost.
Leaves cannot shiver as humans do when they are cold. Leaves can shake and blow in the wind, but "shiver" is the personification word here.
1. Ken caressed Mallory's feet to make her feel special and loved.
2. The blanket that her husband gave her for Valentine's day caressed her with its softness.
"Caress" is usually used to describe the way someone is touching someone else. However, in the second sentence here, the blanket (an inanimate object) is caressing someone. The thought of the blanket being from the person's husband makes the caressing seem like it is coming from him, in a sense.
Now that you have read through these personification word examples, try out some of your own. You may choose to use the words listed on this page, or come up with some of your own personification words and sample sentences. The words I used were all verbs, but see if you can come up with nouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc. that can be used to help add personification to your writing.
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