What Is the Difference between Personification and Hyperbole?

Alicia Sparks

Both personification and hyperbole are literary terms, and in practice, neither are meant to be taken seriously. This might be why they are often confused. When a person, such as a writer, uses personification, he is giving human-like attributes to an idea or inanimate object. When he uses hyperbole, he is creating an exaggeration to emphasize or stress a point. Both personification and hyperbole are used in everyday conversations, though they are often featured in professional and creative instances of speech and writing, too.

Novelists who use personification and hyperbole in their books do so for differing effects.
Novelists who use personification and hyperbole in their books do so for differing effects.

A person uses personification when he gives human-like qualities to an inanimate object or an abstract idea. By doing this, the person has made the object or idea seem like a person. These qualities might be thoughts or physical actions. For example, if a writer describes the wind as kicking the leaves, he has used an instance of personification. He has personified the wind, telling readers it performed the human-like action of kicking, and by doing so he has also explained the gusty and powerful state of the wind.

Personification may be used in stories to evoke emotions in a reader.
Personification may be used in stories to evoke emotions in a reader.

On the other hand, when a writer uses hyperbole, he is exaggerating. Giving human-like attributions to inanimate objects or abstract ideas certainly is exaggerating, if not outright lying, but a hyperbole is more of an exaggerated statement intended to make a point or emphasize an idea. For example, if a woman tells her child that she has already asked him a million times to put away his toys when he is finished playing with them, she is using a hyperbole. She is exaggerating, because it is unlikely she has asked him a million times. Still, the woman uses the exaggerated number to make the point that she has asked him many times to put away his toys.

Both personification and hyperbole are used in a variety of manners, and typically whenever a person wants to better describe a scene or make a point. People use them in everyday conversations, politicians use them in speeches, and advertisers use them in commercials. Often, writers use instances of personification and hyperbole in various pieces of literature. Although both hyperbole and personification can be used in novels, short stories, and other similar types of literature, perhaps they are most commonly used in poetry. This might be because many poems are themselves abstract, and these terms allow poets to employ evocative qualities rather than simply tell the reader the meaning.

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Discussion Comments


@Crispety -I think that similes, metaphors, personification and hyperboles also allow the reader to begin comprehending how the character or object feels by the use of these different types of figurative language. For example, if you use the hyperbole that the girl was starving to mean that she was very hungry it paints a very explicit picture in the mind of the reader of how this character felt.

This also helps with the development of reading comprehension because the reader can conceptualize things about the character when the language is so vivid like that. It also makes the writing more interesting in my opinion. My daughter studied examples of figurative language like this and it made her literature lessons more memorable.


I think that figurative language examples like alliteration really help kids learn phonetic sounds. It is also fun to read works of literature that start with the same sound. I think that a lot of Dr. Seuss books offer alliteration and examples of tongue twisters that are excellent for kids to hear when they are learning to read.

I remember when my kids were younger they loved the book Fox in Socks because they were able to discern the phonetic patterns in the book. Dr. Seuss uses a lot of these techniques in many of his books which provide entertaining moments to read aloud along with offering a lesson in phonics.

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