Lindsay McMahon
Michelle Kaplan
"The New York Radio Girl"

Have you ever heard somebody use a personification in English?

Think back and ask yourself if you have ever heard somebody refer to something that is an inanimate object as a person?

When you give some sort of personal characteristics to an object, that is personification at work.

We are going to look at this, how to use it, and how it can add some personality to your conversations in a fun but effective way.

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Understanding How Personification Works

We have been having fun with unique aspects of English lately, including euphemisms, onomatopoeias, and even items from a brand becoming trademarked words.

These are all episodes that are worth checking out so that you have some good background here.

Today we are going to do another fun English device, often used in literature, but also in speaking.

We are going to talk about personification today, which is something that you may have heard of without even knowing it.

So what is personification?

Quite simply, it is when we make it seem like an object is a person.

Just look at the word because it’s combining- person and -ification, which directly means like a person.

Writers use this to be more colorful with words, and it helps to give a personality to something that wouldn’t otherwise have it.

This makes it more specific, and it really gives an image to something.

It is used a lot in song lyrics as well, so that’s something good to listen for.

Think of this as giving a personality to something that wouldn’t otherwise have one, using a certain type of speech.

Some Common Examples

Today we will give you some common ones to use, and you may have even heard them in conversation.

These can help you to see how personification works, and soon enough you will feel comfortable in using them yourself.

  • Calling my name: This is super common in speaking, and it’s a good way of saying you want something. It’s almost like saying something has your name on it. You could say “Oh wow. Those shoes are calling my name. How much are they?”
  • My computer was angry/mad at me: You can actually picture this, because it’s like saying that you are fighting with your computer. You would say this when it feels like everything is going wrong with your computer, so it’s as if it’s angry at you.
  • ____ ran away: You would say this if you lose something. You can’t find it and so it’s as if it ran away from you. You may say “My phone ran away, I can’t find it anywhere.”
  • The wind sang a beautiful song: You will find that a lot of times people use song and dance to describe sound and movement. It’s as if you can hear this happening just in the description.

There are some ways to use these types of personifications in actual sentences too.

You can see how these work, and you may have even heard some of these before.

“The freezing cold air hit me in the face as soon as I walked out the door.”

“My hair loves being washed.”

Using This In Conversation

The idea is you have an inanimate object and add a verb to it.

This can help to add personality to something that wouldn’t otherwise have it.

People could also use this to be funny, as well. It’s like a joke, but yet you have that sort of vision in your head about the situation or subject matter.

Sometimes you may use this in a specific situation, such as if you are talking to a child who is scared of something.

You might talk about something like an object that they perceive as scary and say it in a gentle way such as “She’s not scary!” or even “He’s friendly don’t worry!”

If you want to learn more, there are a couple of ways to do this.

You will find that using these tactics can help you to become more well versed at using these in your conversations, especially when you need personification.

  • Read poetry! Read books! Identify this kind of device and ask yourself why you think it was used. Was it to be specific? Was it to give an image? What effect did it have on you? The more that you read, the more that you can pick up on this language and this way of talking about things.
  • Listen for it in speaking and in songs! It’s the same idea here, but you are listening for real life examples. You can pick up on things that you might not otherwise, and you can also start to get a bit of context.
  • Look for it in the right type of writing: It may be used differently in writing than with speaking, so writing may be a bit more poetic. Look for it in this type of writing though and it can give you a good indication of how it may be used.

Roleplay To Help

Lindsay: “Oh no! My computer isn’t working. It keeps yelling at me.”

Michelle: “It’s making a noise?”

Lindsay: “Yeah! So loud. Oh wait. It stopped. Phew.”

Michelle: “Good. Give me a sec. I just got a glass of lemonade and it’s calling my name. Ok thanks.”

This roleplay helps you to see how this can work through various phrases and ways of using personification in a fun and effective way.

Takeaway

Personification can be a really fun aspect of conversation.

These devices are so much fun, so be sure to listen and look for them.

What is natural when speaking?

What is better when writing?

The best way to learn is by looking for them, and then you have context for a helpful way to use them in conversation.

This is a fun way to speak, and it also helps you to work towards connections.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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