Guide to Literary Terms

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Types Of Prose

What is the definition of prose? Kinds of prose, element of prose, characteristics of prose?

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We usually divide literature up into two categories: poetry and prose. So, prose can be thought of as everything that is not poetry—any writing in sentence or paragraph form that is not broken up into poetic lines. Prose typically sounds like natural speech (though it can be very formal), and most books are written in prose. Since it is such a broad term, there are many different kinds of prose, including fictional, nonfictional, dramatic, and heroic, to name a few.


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The term prose is used simply as a contrast to verse. It is what linguists call the "unmarked" form of language. In other words, the ordinary language we speak and write, such as your question and all the answers on this page, are examples of prose. Basically, you have been speaking in prose all your life. 

If you are being asked about types of prose within the context of a literature class, the typology is likely to be restricted to the types of prose studied in the literature classroom, as opposed to all non-verse language (something that linguists might study.)

Literary critics divide prose...

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