I know that saying “boring house” is correct, and saying “bored house” is incorrect because a house cannot have the feeling of boredom.

However my point is about personification, when you add a human quality to an object on purpose.

In a discussion with a friend about personifying things, they claim that while you can say for example, a “cruel watch” you cannot say a “bored pencil”. It seems to me that both examples we follow the form adjective+noum

Consider the following sentence:

“a bored pencil tapped the school desk while the cruel minute hand refused to move”

Their claim is that an adjective that ends in “–ed” can’t be use to personify something, but other adjectives are okay. This seems like splitting hairs for no reason.

  • You'd wonder where people come up with all these rules! :) Did your friend explain why they think you "can't" do this? Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 8:30
  • Your friend is wrong. You can do this. See the answer below. Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 12:59
  • I am not a native speaker, but I understand your friends a little. I feel your pencil's tapping does not look as if it is bored. It seems like it's jumping when it taps, like it is dancing, so does not look like it is bored. I am very interested in further discussion.
    – Nigutumok
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 8:11

2 Answers 2


That distinction is artificial, downright wrong. Consider The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot:

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

N.B "ragged". Perhaps your instructor should correct Eliot?


and saying “bored house” is incorrect because a house cannot have the feeling of boredom.

If it is incorrect, it is semantically incorrect. It's perfectly correct grammatically.

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