What Is Prose? (with Examples)
ProseProse is the normal form of language. Prose contrasts with poetry or verse. In other words, prose is not made up of lines with deliberate rhythmic pattern or rhyme.
The Difference between Prose and PoetryProse is usually written in paragraph form, and it does not rhyme. Stories and articles (fictional and non-fictional) are written in prose. Songs and poems are written in verse.
The British philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) explained the difference between prose and poetry like this:
"Prose is when all the lines except the last go on to the end. Poetry is when some of them fall short of it." (Jeremy Bentham)The British author John Beverley Nichols (1898-1983) uses the difference between prose and poetry to present this idea:
"Marriage: a book of which the first chapter is written in poetry and the remaining chapters in prose." (Beverly Nichols)Nichols' quotation suggests that prose is dull, but the word prose does not carry that connotation. (You should think of prose as meaning not verse, i.e., as having no connotation of the text being boring.)
The Difference between Prose and Prosaic WritingThe adjective from prose is prosaic. However, the term prosaic writing is not necessarily synonymous with prose.
The adjective prosaic carries the connotation of something being basic or simple. (Prosaic is synonymous with adjectives like everyday, run-of-the-mill, normal, ordinary, routine, and standard.) In other words, a piece of writing described as prose might contain some imaginative figurative language. However, a piece of writing described as prosaic writing wouldn't contain such artistic flair (e.g., metaphors, similes, and hyperbole.)
Easy Example of Prose
- I'm not lying when I say a dog is full of love. I know from experience that a wet dog loves you the most. (This is prose.)
- The truth I do not stretch or shove
When I state the dog is full of love.
I've also proved, by actual test,
A wet dog is the lovingest.
(US poet Ogden Nash)
Why Should I Care about Prose?Unless you're a lyricist or a poet, your business correspondence or your course work will be prose, but that does not mean it has to be prosaic (i.e., without some flair). There are numerous literary techniques you can employ when writing prose. Used sparingly and appropriately for your audience, techniques like those below can be used:
Anastrophe (deliberately using the wrong word order).
- A stare long and threatening
- The concept of mothering more overtly
- Pick a lock and crack it.
- I shall tell you, and you shall listen, and we shall agree.
Euphemisms (using agreeable words to replace offensive ones)
- He was so well oiled he lost his lunch. (He was so drunk he was sick.)
- With eyes like pools (The word eyes looks like two eyes and a nose, and oo looks like two eyes.)
- The volcano spewed its flaming Earth sauce.
- Don't growl at customers.
- Non-prosaic prose
- The British accepted her absence like Americans accept the missing full stop in "Dr Pepper".