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Hello.
Welcome back to engVid.
Today we have a writing lesson for you to transform your writing so that it becomes richer and more interesting to read.
Okay.
What are we talking about?
We're talking about personification today.
"Personification", let's just write it, there.
"Person", "fication" - that suffix means making into.
So, we're making into a person an object or a non-human thing.
For example: "The car.
The car screamed around the corner."
If I say: "The car screamed", I'm exaggerating the noise of the car.
It's obviously got a very powerful engine; slightly antisocial.
Okay?
"The car screamed around the corner."
It exaggerates how much of a hurry this car is in.
"The sun".
Okay?
Which one of these words do you think would go with "sun"?
Would the sun watch?
Not really.
So, it's either going to be a nice feeling, the sun - it's warming us; or it's too hot,
in which case it's going to be slightly unpleasant.
"The sun sat...
Sat up in the sky"?
Possibly.
"The sun spat" - no, that sounds more like rain than sunshine to me.
What about "glared"?
Okay?
It's looking and it's quite harmful, these rays.
"The sun glared out.
The sun glared out, shining its harmful UV rays into the person's skin."
Right.
"The house".
The house can either: "spit", "sit", or "watch".
What should we go for?
"The house spat out"?
No.
"The nightclub spat out the drunk", but I don't think we're going to have a house spitting.
It may be sitting, though.
"The house was perched; the house was sat on the top of the hill from which there was a fantastic view."
"The clock", "watched".
"The clock", "the clock".
Let's go for the ones that's easiest first; it's always a good exam technique - you go
what's...
Through what's easier first.
"The washing machine spat out the dirty clothes at the end of the cycle."
A "cycle" is a complete sort of revolution; it's a complete trip in the washing machine.
A trip in the washing machine?
You know what I mean.
It's when the clothes go in and it finishes.
That means we have: "The clock" and "watched".
"The clock watched the inhabitants of the house mournfully."
Okay?
"Mournfully" - an adverb to express sadness.
So, what are we doing here?
What we're doing is we're bringing to life these objects.
They're kind of turning into characters.
We don't say: "he" or "she" for objects, like you do in other languages, but we can use
personification to describe and give things more of a quality.
Let's have another go: "The washing machine _________ my change".
Okay?
So, a vending machine is something, you know, you put a coin in, get a can of Coke or get a chocolate bar, or something healthier.
Right?
I've put some money into the vending machine, and it's taken that money and not given me a can of Coke.
So, obviously that's quite annoying, so I want to turn this vending machine into an annoying person.
Okay?
So, what's going to be an annoying action?
I need to describe the swallowing of my change.
That's something a human could do; a human swallows.
Let's have that kind of idea, but I'm going to use: "gobbled up".
"The vending machine gobbled up my change."
Nasty vending machine.
Then what's it going to do?
"It..."
Hmm.
"It _________ at me as if it had not done anything wrong."
Okay?
So, I don't know about you, but when I'm a teacher and I look out to my class and I catch
someone doing something they shouldn't do, and they'll often go: "Mm, no.
I haven't done anything wrong."
Okay?
It's the same with this vending machine.
We're trying to turn them into a human being.
"It stared at me as if it had not done anything."
Obviously, the vending machine doesn't eyes...
Doesn't have eyes, but we're giving it a human characteristic.
I've got four examples, here, that I would like you to have a go at.
So, first of all: "shoe".
You're going to have to give this shoe either a good quality or a bad quality.
So, think: "Is this a nice shoe?
What kind of thing is the shoe doing?"
You're trying to give it an action.
Okay?
So, what is the shoe doing?
Is it doing something nice or doing something annoying?
You're going to be doing the same with the "hoover".
Okay?
"Hoover" - vacuum cleaner.
"Hoover" is quite an English word for "vacuum cleaner".
What's the hoover doing?
Think about the sound it might make.
Think about the size of it.
A "letter".
Is it a good letter or a bad letter?
Therefore, when it comes through the post box, what kind of action is it going to be doing?
"Key".
Does the key work or not?
I'm going to give you 35 seconds to give this a go.
So, you need a piece of paper and you need a pen.
I want you to create four sentences using personification right now, and then we'll
flip the board over and I'll show you what I did earlier.
Right.
I hope you came up with something good.
I hope you used your imagination.
I hope you gave the shoe, the hoover, the letter, the key a human characteristic and
you kind of brought them to life like they are characters in your story.
Okay.
My example is: "The new shoe bit into his tired feet, causing him agony."
So, it's like I'm making the shoe a shark, going: "Ar, ar, ar".
Okay?
It's like a, kind of, a nasty, aggressive dog.
"Bit": "Ar".
"...bite into his tired feet, causing him agony".
"Agony" is pain.
Just write that, there.
Second example: "The hoover roared", okay?
So, I know that's not a human action or a sound; it's actually what a lion does, but
it's still bringing a non-human object into life.
"The hoover roared into life".
Okay?
So, it...
Someone turned...
Pressed the "On" button.
It's much more interesting than saying: "Someone turned the hoover on."
Yeah?
"It roared into life".
"...domineering", this means sort of...
That's an informal word; "bossing".
Okay?
"The hoover roared into life, domineering the room"-dominating the room, becoming the
center of attention in the room-"like a proud king".
And here I've used a simile.
For more advice on how to do similes, check out Gill's video on similes.
"The hoover roared into life, domineering the room like a proud king."
Okay?
So, we've got personification and a simile there.
Third option: "The letter flew through the post box."
Can letters fly?
No, but I'm making them sound like a bird; and by doing so, I imagine the letter going
through the post box, and going: "Whew, whew, whew, whew".
It just helps me imagine it more-okay?-by using personification.
Fourth example: "The key, determined to annoy the driver, refused to open the door."
Okay.
So, we've got two verbs, here.
"Determined".
He was determined.
The key was determined.
This is actually the sub clause-okay?-because the sentence would make sense without it there.
I could just say: "The key refused to open the door", but I'm putting in a little bit
of extra information; I'm putting in that sub clause.
"Determined" - it's like saying that the key has got a brain; the key can make decisions.
Obviously it can't.
"The key, determined to annoy the driver,"-the person trying to drive the car-"refused to open the door".
Better than saying: "The key didn't work."
Okay?
Hope you've enjoyed.
What are you going to remember from today's lesson?
That you can take objects and you can kind of bring them to life by describing what they
do, and making it as if they are making decisions.
Don't do it all the time, but if you're writing a story, try to get a couple of uses of personification in there.
Until next time, stay well.
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Become a better writer: How to use personification

281 Folder Collection
Flora Hu published on February 26, 2019
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