Prose: how is it characterized and what are its types

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Prose is a concept that refers to both the form and the content of a text. A prose-format text has lines that make up one or more paragraphs. A text with prose content is more objective and denotative compared to poetic content, which is more subjective and connotative.

See too: Epic — a type of text that mixes lyrical and narrative forms

Topics in this article

  • 1 - Summary about prose
  • 2 - What is prose?
  • 3 - Characteristics of prose
  • 4 - Types of prose
    • → Narrative prose
    • → expository-argumentative prose
  • 5 - Prose x poetry

prose summary

  • Prose content is related to a more objective and less ambiguous text.

  • Poetry content is related to a more subjective and more ambiguous text.

  • Prose form refers to text written in lines that form paragraphs.

  • Poetry can either be written in verse form or in prose form.

  • Prose can be narrative or expository-argumentative, and thus can be literary or non-literary.

What is prose?

When we talk about “prose”, we may be referring to a prose content or a prose format. The content of prose is the one that is opposed to that of poetry, that is, it is more objective. The prose format is opposed to the poem format. After all, a poem is written in verse while prose is composed of lines and not verses. Look:

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I used to paint the window panes with these colorful arabesques of the paints I sometimes go out to buy. The house is a small townhouse, with few windows, on a little street made up of small townhouses crammed in between others. small townhouses, so there aren't many windows, as the two sides are completely compressed between two other houses.|1|

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prose characteristics

At Literature, prose is associated with narrative. So it has:

  • language less subjective than that of poetry;

  • narrator or narrator;

  • plot or plot;

  • characters and their actions;

  • narrative space;

  • narrative time;

  • manifestation of emotions, thoughts or ideas;

  • less connotation and ambiguity compared to poetry.

Non-literary prose texts, on the other hand, use objective and denotative language, as they seek clarity in the exposition of facts or in the defense of ideas.

types of prose

→ Narrative prose

Narrative prose is developed by the following textual genres:

  • Romance: long narrative.

  • Novel: intermediate-sized narrative between the short story and the novel.

  • Tale: short narrative.

  • narrative chronicle: small report associated with a current theme.

  • Poem narrative: story written in verse.

As an example of a narrative poem, let's read this excerpt from the epic poem the uraguay, by Basilio da Gama:


Weaves the tangled grove

Green, jagged, and twisted

Streets and squares, on either side

Canoe Crusades. Such we can

With the mixture of lights and shadows

See through a transplanted glass

In the bosom of Adria the noble buildings,

And the gardens, which produces another element.

And paddle beats, and navigables

The streets of maritime Venice.

Twice the silver moon

Curved white horns in the serene sky,

And still the thick flood continued.

We lack everything in the desert country.|2|


→ expository-argumentative prose

The expository-argumentative prose is elaborated through these text genres:

  • Rehearsal: deals with literary, artistic or scientific subjects.

  • Article: text, usually of journalistic character, on a certain subject.

  • argumentative chronicle: defends ideas associated with current issues.

Let us see, as an example, the excerpt from the argumentative chronicle Love leaves a lot to be desired, by Arnaldo Jabor:

Advertising has devastated love, talking about the “gasoline I love”, the soap that makes people love, the beer that seduces. There is an obscenity floating in the air all the time, a pervasive propaganda of sex that is impossible to fulfill. [...] Love lives on incompleteness and this emptiness justifies the poetry of surrender. Being impossible is its great beauty. Of course, love is also made up of selfishness, narcissism, but even so, it seeks greatness — even in the crime of love there is a terrible dream of fulfillment. Loving requires courage and today we are all cowards.|3|

See too: Dissertation-argumentative text — prose text very present in competitions and entrance exams

prose x poetry

prose and poetry differ not by the structure of the text, but by its content. Therefore, prose written in verse is possible, just as poetry written in prose is possible. This is because “prose” can indicate both content and structural characteristics.

If we speak of a text in the form of prose, we are saying that it is not written in verses, but in lines that form paragraphs. Poetry, on the other hand, does not have a form, since the concept of poetry is associated with characteristics of the text content. Although poetry is usually presented in the form of a poem, it is not a rule.. Hence, we are interested in the second concept of “prose”, the one associated with characteristics of textual content.

Let’s look at the main differences between prose content and poetic content:

Features of prose and poetry



more objective language

more subjective language

Presence of a narrator

presence of a I lyrical

more denotative text

more connotative text

greater clarity

greater ambiguity

lesser strangeness

greater strangeness

So, it is possible to have poetry written in the form of verse, but also poetry written in the form of prose, as in this excerpt from the Cruz and Sousa entitled “Twilight at Sea”:

on one old gold glow, the sun quietly descends towards the sunset, at the extreme limit of the sea, with calm, serene waters, a thick, heavy green, glaucous, in a bronze tone.

In the sky, from a fainted blue, still clear, there is a sweet astral and religious softness.

To the last golden scintillations of noble star of the day, the ships, with the wonderful aspect of the masts, in the stillness of the waves, seem to be ecstatic in the afternoon.

in an engraving enamel, the masts, with the tall lintels reminding, in the distance, slender music characters, guide the background of the clear horizon.|4| (emphasis ours)


|1| GAMA, Basilio da. the uraguay. Available here.

|2| JABOR, Arnold. Love leaves a lot to be desired. In: ______. Love is prose, sex is poetry. Rio de Janeiro: Objective, 2004.

|3| CRUZ AND SOUSA. Missal. In: PEREZ, José (org.). Cruz and Sousa: prose. 2. ed. São Paulo: Culture, 1945.

|4| ABREU, Caio Fernando. The sailor. In: ______. water triangle. Rio de Janeiro: New Frontier, 1983.

By Warley Souza
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