Personification Examples for Kids - Grammar

Do words like “personification” confuse you? Do they spin you around and make you fall over? Do they shout at you in loud voices?

Never fear; this article is here to lend you a helping hand.

What is Personification?

Personification is when you give human qualities to something that isn’t human – such as a concept, like “personification.” So, when you give an object (or idea) human characteristics, you’re using this literary device.

For example, let’s take a look at two examples from the opening paragraph:

Do they spin you around and make you fall over? Do they shout at you in loud voices?

Firstly, a concept can’t spin you around and make you fall over, and secondly, it can’t shout at you in a loud voice. 

When you give human attributes to inanimate objects, it’s making a comparison. Personification is a type of metaphor. It compares things to other things – in this case, to people.

personification showing a dog working on a computer

Why is Personification Used?

There are many reasons personification is a great tool when writing because it can make things more straightforward or make your writing more vivid and exciting. 

Let’s take a look at these two examples:

  • It can shine a light into the dark rooms of writing. Sometimes, the author meant to say it is like a buried treasure chest, and personification holds the map that will lead you to it. 
  • Like a tour guide, personification can tell you what the writing is all about. Or, like a circus performer, it can wow you with its flips and somersaults that you never saw coming.

Both of those explanations said the same thing, but the first one didn’t use any personification, and the second used a lot of it. Which description was more exciting to read?

Personification and Figurative Language

Personification is a type of figurative language. Metaphor is a type of figurative language, and personification is a type of metaphor.

Other types of figurative language are similes that don’t compare things to people but branch out like a river delta. (The phrase “like a river delta” is a simile that’s not personification.) Similes are a type of metaphor. There are other types of figurative language that aren’t metaphors, like a “hyperbole,” which is used when you want to exaggerate something to make it sound better or bigger than it ordinarily is.

Personification is a type of figurative language that’s a metaphor, and once you get into the hang of how to use it, it’s never going to let you go.

Common Examples of Personification

It’s pretty common for people to give things human qualities that aren’t actually human. Some of the most commonly used examples of personification in speech include:

  • My alarm clock yells at me in the morning to wake up 
  • The wind howled last night 
  • My plants are begging for water 

We also use personification in everyday speech. It’s common to talk about our technology as though it has human qualities. Here are some examples:

  • I don’t want my iPhone listening to me.
  • Google knows where you live.
  • My computer isn’t listening to me.
  • The car complained as I made it drive up the hill.
  • The train moaned loudly all the way.

Personification is often used when talking about natural disasters or the weather:

  • The hurricane punished the city.
  • The flood crept up without warning any of us.
  • The blizzard struck out against the city.
  • The breeze brushed my face.
  • Ocean currents are whimsical and can’t make up their minds.

You might also hear one of these examples of personification:

  • The internet has been his friend for many years.
  • The house stood there.
  • The car was waiting for me.

In fact, it’s so common that it often becomes a figure of speech:

  • Love is blind.
  • Time flies.

10 Examples of Personification in Writing

While personification pokes its nose out into our everyday speech, in our writing, it tends to linger about on the page. Here are some examples of personification in writing: 

  • The sun smiled at them.
  • The stars winked.
  • My bed welcomed me with a sigh.
  • She tried to collect her notes; the papers were always running away from her in the wind.
  • The trees were shaking their arms in the wind.
  • Winter is a cruel master.
  • The warm coat hugged me.
  • Her life blazed past her eyes when she thought she would die.
  • The lake danced in the heavy wind.
  • If you have dyslexia, the letters on the page seem to run around out of order.

Examples of Personification as a Literary Tool 

Personification is used all the time. Here are some famous examples:

In Poetry

Personification is a literary device, so, of course, it’s used in poetry:

  • “Because I could not stop for Death –
    He kindly stopped for me.”
    ~Emily Dickenson

“Death” can’t really stop for a person. 

  • “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone –
    Stand in the desert.”
    ~Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ozymandius.”

A stone can’t really stand.

  • I wandered lonely as a cloud.
    ~William Wordsworth

A cloud can’t really feel lonely.

In Advertising

It’s also used in advertising:

  • It’s common in food advertising, like when vegetables are given faces and voices.
  • If a restaurant calls a new menu item (like a burger) the “Newcomer,” this personifies it.
  • You will also see personification used in car ads, like when the car company says its cars are “always moving forward.”

Personification vs. Anthropomorphism

You might have also seen this other big word that sometimes rears its ugly head when people talk about personification: anthropomorphism.

Wow. That’s a mouthful!

Anthropomorphism vs. Personification

Anthropomorphism is a particular type of personification where animate objects (like pets or wild animals) are given human qualities, which you’ll often see in children’s books.

Examples of anthropomorphism

  • The cat was prettying herself up, making sure every sleek hair was flat.
  • The squirrel hid his nuts from the jealous neighbors.
  • The angry bear snarled and spat at us.

Personification vs. Anthropomorphism

Here are the same ideas, using personification instead of anthropomorphism:

  • Every little hair on the cat’s back lay flat, afraid to move.
  • The squirrel’s nuts hid from the jealous neighbors.
  • The bear’s mouth threatened to gobble us up.

As you can see, personification focuses on inanimate things which can’t move. Whereas anthropomorphism just gives animals more credit than they may be due.

As you can see, the big scary word “personification” isn’t such a big bully. Even his friend “anthropomorphism” isn’t that mean. Personification is the friend who brings the snacks to the party to make it more exciting. While anthropomorphism tags along like a faithful dog who has FOMO (fear of missing out) and won’t even let you go to the toilet without him.

There were three examples of personification there, one example of anthropomorphism, and a simile. Can you find them all?