10 junio, 2024

Chronography: what it is, characteristics, examples

What is the timeline?

The chronography It is a resource used in the narrative to describe the passage of time, that is, the accumulation of details that evoke and specify a temporal space. ANDThis space can be a day, a season of the year, a moment in the past, or any other measure of the passage of time.

For example, «At five in the morning on July 6, 2020, he got up like every day, but that day would be different.»

This resource is one of the objects of study of rhetoric. In this sense, rhetoric is the discipline that studies the uses of written, spoken and visual language. One of his areas of interest is rhetorical devices (among them, chronography).

Chronography appears especially in the field of literary language. This does not mean that it is for your exclusive use. In fact, both in everyday use and in the different specialized uses of language, it is possible to find a rich and diverse inventory of this rhetorical resource.

In this way, many examples can be found within the world of advertising. In these cases, it is used due to the need to quickly capture the reader’s attention.

Also, in the field of journalism, it is used for the purpose of maintaining that attention. For its part, in the world of literature it is used to create an aesthetic effect.

Chronograph Features

Unconscious or deliberate use

In some cases, chronography is used almost unconsciously in informal conversations to add depth to an idea.

In others, it is done deliberately and in pursuit of a goal. Especially in the case of specialized languages, the purpose for their use is basically persuasion.

Communication tool

Chronography is a figure of speech. As such, it is a communication resource used by generations to make speech more resourceful and effective. When used properly, it helps the interlocutors to appreciate, interpret and analyze the contents transmitted.

In this way, this resource offers the possibility of improving the message to be delivered, adding –in this case– the dimension of time to the description of facts or qualities.

amplification figure

Chronography is a figure of speech for amplification. The figures that belong to this category share as a common feature the detailed and detailed expression of ideas or concepts.

In this case, it is an extensive and detailed development of the temporal dimension.

Description of the temporary structure

Chronography is used to describe periods of time. The details of a period of time defined by the author are then detailed in order for the reader or viewer to see them more clearly and make them real and evident.

In literature, it is used to time content. That is, locate them within some notion of elapsed time. Thus, depending on the time unit selected, night, day and seasonal chronographies can be found, among a great variety.

Animated and realistic transmission of images

Chronography is part of hypotyposis, known as evidentia either enargeia. It is about the ability of the text to cause the illusion that the things narrated or described are present.

This causes in the viewer, reader or listener, the sensation that they are perceiving them as if they were before their very eyes.

Chronography, then, has the ability to transmit sensory images in an animated, realistic and surprising way. These, commonly, exceed the real characteristics of the object or situation described. In this way, he manages to catch the attention of the interlocutor.

Chronography Examples

In general terms, chronography has practical applications in any field of human activity that seeks to capture attention and create an aesthetic effect. Three areas where it is frequently used will be described below.


Literature is by definition a field of aesthetic content production. Thus, there are many uses for chronography. For example, in the poem by the anonymous author «Romance of the prisoner», it can be widely observed:

“That it was in May, in May, / when the weather is hot / when the wheat sprouts / and the fields are in bloom / when the calender sings / and the nightingale answers / when lovers / go to serve love / but me, sad, worried / that I live in this prison / that I don’t even know when it is day / nor when the nights are / but because of a little bird / that the dawn sang to me…”

The poet uses chronography to situate the reader in a time (the month of May) and abounds in details to signify and highlight it (flowering fields, birds in love and heat).

Later, he comments on the personal situation of the protagonist at that time (in prison, alone and sad, except for the song of a bird).


In the field of journalism, reporters use the chronography resource very frequently. In this way they give context to the news (especially those that are distanced in time) and can immediately place the reader in a situation.

In the following paragraph, taken from the Chilean newspaper The vanguard, the journalist uses chronography resources to set the scene for his story. This is a chronicle of an earthquake that occurred in Chile in 2010:

«… At 03:35 in the morning on Saturday, February 27, the entire south-central part of Chile was affected by an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale…» (…) «… It was the strongest of the country’s history after the 9.5 that Valdivia suffered in 1960…» (…) «… seconds before the movement began, the electricity went out…»

The reader learns the date of the event (February 27) and other temporal details. These place the reader at the site of the events. In this way, without having been there, he can be a virtual witness of what happened and have an idea of ​​how and when things happened.


Chronography in the arts can be found in many of its expressions. For example, it can be located in the songs. In them, the lyrics frequently appeal to images in which the time-space relationship generates feelings.

For example, in the following song by Joan Manuel Serrat, this resource is observed when he describes autumn: “They painted the sky gray and the ground was covered with leaves, it was dressed in autumn. The afternoon that falls asleep looks like a child that the wind rocks with its ballad in autumn. A ballad in autumn, a sad song of melancholy that is born at the end of the day.

Other examples

– “Many years later, facing the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía would remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” one hundred years of solitudeGabriel Garcia Marquez.

– The last time I saw her was in Easter 2015. I remember because it was that year when I graduated as an engineer.

– “We were both going / at dusk / it was getting dark and I couldn’t see…”. I read Dan, «The Last Kiss.»

– “And in July, in Aragon, I had a small town / An irrigation ditch, a stable and some ruins in the sun…”. Joan Manuel Serrat, «My childhood».

– Every winter day he gets up at 6 in the morning and does yoga. In summer, he gets up at 5.

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