Definition of Prose

Prose is a communicative style that sounds natural and uses grammatical structure. Prose is the opposite of verse, or poetry, which employs a rhythmic structure that does not mimic ordinary speech. There is, however, some poetry called “prose poetry” that uses elements of prose while adding in poetic techniques such as heightened emotional content, high frequency of metaphors, and juxtaposition of contrasting images. Most forms of writing and speaking are done in prose, including short stories and novels, journalism, academic writing, and regular conversations.
The word “prose” comes from the Latin expression prosa oratio, which means straightforward or direct speech. Due to the definition of prose referring to straightforward communication, “prosaic” has come to mean dull and commonplace discourse. When used as a literary term, however, prose does not carry this connotation.

Common Examples of Prose

Casual dialogueOrationDictionary definitionPhilosophical texts: Journalism:

Examples of Prose in Literature

Example #1

Don QuixoteDon Quixote

Example #2

Wuthering Heights

Example #3

My AntoniaMy Antonia

Example #4

The Sun also Rises

His prose was very direct and straightforward.In this excerpt from The Sun Also Rises, the narrator declares, "Do not think I am very much impressed by that as a boxing title" demonstrating his direct style.

Example #5

To the LighthouseTo the Lighthouse

Example #6

Test Your Knowledge of Prose

1. Choose the best prose definition from the following statements:A.B.C.
2. Why is the following quote from William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116” not an example of prose?A.B.C.D.
3. Which of the following excerpts from works by Margaret Atwood is a prose example?A. B. The Handmaid’s TaleC.