Last Updated: April 26, 2024


Have you read novels, short stories, poems, essays, or formal speeches wherein there is a repetition of a certain word or phrase at the beginning of a verse or sentence? It is not a coincidence nor intentional but it is a rhetorical device used by authors for the purpose of generating a particular effect on readers. Such rhetorical device is called Anaphora. You may also see simple sentences.

What is Anaphora?

Anaphora is a rhetorical device that involves the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive sentences, clauses, or phrases. This technique is used to create emphasis, add rhythm, and enhance the cohesiveness of a text. By repeating a specific phrase, anaphora can evoke strong emotions and highlight key themes or ideas, making the message more memorable and impactful.

Function of Anaphora

Aside from appealing to the emotions of the readers or audience, anaphora adds rhythm to any written text which makes it pleasurable to read or listen. It also provide an artistic effect to passages in which you can find in prose and poetry. Anaphora helps in making written texts persuasive, inspirational, and motivational because it emphasizes and reinforces a thought or idea.

Examples of Anaphora in Sentences

  • It was the bone that the dog had craved for; it was the bone that the dog had wanted for so long.
  • It was the most exciting day for Lisa for it was the day that she will already be graduating in college.
  • She dropped the glass when she dropped her guard down.
  • I know what I did was wrong and I know that I shouldn’t have done it but even if I know, I still did it.
  • The students went out of the school premises when the student from the other school also went out.

When Do We Use Anaphora?

Anaphora is used in various forms of writing and speech to intensify emotional appeal, emphasize a point, or create a memorable rhythm. It is commonly found in poetry, speeches, and persuasive writing. Writers or speakers may employ anaphora to:

  • Strengthen Emotional Impact: By repeating words or phrases, anaphora can evoke emotions, making the audience feel more connected to the message.
  • Highlight Key Themes: Anaphora can underscore the main ideas or themes of a text, drawing the audience’s attention to them.
  • Enhance Persuasiveness: In persuasive writing or speeches, anaphora can reinforce arguments, making them more compelling.
  • Create Rhythmic Flow: The repetition can add a lyrical quality to the text, improving readability or listenability and making the content more engaging.
  • Increase Memorability: Repetitive patterns are easier to remember, so using anaphora can make certain elements of a speech or text more memorable to the audience.

Anaphora Can Include Variations

Anaphora is not limited to the exact repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of successive sentences. Variations in its use can introduce subtle differences or expand the scope of emphasis. For instance, anaphora can involve:

  • Synonymous Phrases: Instead of repeating the exact phrase, synonyms or related terms can be used to maintain interest and add depth.
  • Thematic Repetition: The repeated element may not always be a specific word or phrase but rather a recurring theme or idea expressed in different ways.
  • Structural Variations: The structure of the sentences or clauses can change slightly while keeping the repeated element constant, allowing for flexibility in expression and avoiding monotony.
  • Gradual Expansion: Each successive phrase can build upon the previous one, adding more information or detail, which enriches the narrative or argumentative progression.

Examples of Anaphora in Literature and Speeches

1. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …” -A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

2. “This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings [. . .]
This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land.” -Richard I (Act 2, Scene) by William Shakespeare

3. “Five years have passed;
Five summers, with the length of
Five long winters! and again I hear these waters…” -Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth

4. “What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?” -The Tyger by William Blake

5. “We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.” -An excerpt from Winston Churchill’s World War II speech

6. “Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.” -I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King Jr.

7. “There is a time for everything,and a season for every activity under the heavens:a time to be born and a time to die,a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,a time to weep and a time to laugh,a time to mourn and a time to dance.” -Ecclesiastes 3

8. “It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden, too like the lightning.” -Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

9. “I remember a piece of old wood with termites running around all over it the termite men found under our front porch.
I remember when one year in Tulsa by some freak of nature we were invaded by millions of grasshoppers for about three or four days.
I remember, downtown, whole sidewalk areas of solid grasshoppers.
I remember a shoe store with a big brown x-ray machine that showed up the bones in your feet bright green.” -I Remember by Joe Brainard

10. “From the memories of the bird that chanted to me,
From your memories sad brother, from the fitful risings and fallings I heard,
From under that yellow half-moon late-risen and swollen as if with tears,
From those beginning notes of yearning and love there in the mist,
From the thousand responses of my heart never to cease,
From the myriad thence-arous’d words,
From the word stronger and more delicious than any,
From such as now they start the scene revisiting.” -Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking by Walt Whitman

11. “Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose factories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose smokestacks and antennae crown the cities!” -Howl by Allen Ginsberg

12. “To raise a happy, healthy, and hopeful child, it takes a family; it takes teachers; it takes clergy; it takes business people; it takes community leaders; it takes those who protect our health and safety. It takes all of us.” -Hillary Clinton, 1996 Democratic National Convention

13. “I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.” -Acquainted with the Night by Robert Frost

Advantages and Dis Advantages of Anaphora

Advantages of Anaphora

  • Emphasis and Cohesion: Anaphora creates a strong emphasis on the repeated phrase or idea, making it more memorable and impactful for the reader or listener. It also adds cohesion to a text, linking different parts together through a common theme or expression.
  • Rhythmic Quality:The repetition of phrases or words at the beginning of sentences or clauses lends a rhythmic quality to the writing or speech, enhancing its poetic nature and making it more engaging.
  • Emotional Appeal: Anaphora can evoke a wide range of emotions, from passion and excitement to solemnity and contemplation, depending on the context and the phrases repeated. This emotional resonance can make the message more compelling.
  • Persuasive Effect : In rhetoric and speeches, anaphora serves as a powerful persuasive tool, reinforcing key points and making arguments more persuasive by driving home the repeated phrase or idea.

Disadvantages of Anaphora

  • Potential for Monotony: Overuse of anaphora can lead to monotony, making the text or speech seem repetitive and dull. It’s crucial to use this device judiciously to maintain the audience’s interest.
  • Risk of Overemphasis: While anaphora aims to emphasize certain ideas or themes, excessive repetition can overshadow other important aspects of the text or argument, potentially skewing the message or making it seem one-dimensional.
  • Clarity Could Be Compromised: In some cases, the repeated use of a phrase or word might make the text less clear to the audience, especially if the anaphora does not directly contribute to the development of the argument or narrative.
  • Audience’s Reception: Different audiences may react differently to anaphora; while some may find it powerful and engaging, others may perceive it as overdone or manipulative, potentially reducing the effectiveness of the communication.

Anaphora vs. Epistrophe

Anaphora vs. Epistrophe

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Aspect Anaphora Epistrophe
Definition Repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive sentences or clauses. Repetition of a word or phrase at the end of successive sentences or clauses.
Purpose To create emphasis, unity, and a strong emotional effect by highlighting a key phrase or idea at the start. To build emphasis and a resonant emotional effect by echoing a phrase or idea at the close.
Effect on Reader Engages the reader’s attention from the beginning and sets a tone or theme. Leaves a lasting impression by reinforcing the message or theme at the end.
Use in Literature Often used to convey a theme, create a rhythm, or emphasize an important point in poetry and prose. Commonly used to underscore a concluding thought or to emphasize a recurring theme in poetry and prose.
Use in Speeches Utilized to grab the audience’s attention and emphasize the speaker’s key points right from the start. Employed to leave a memorable impact on the audience by reinforcing the speaker’s message towards the end.
Examples “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields.” (Winston Churchill) “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” (Abraham Lincoln)
Variations Can include variations in the repeated phrase for nuance or expansion of the theme. May involve slight modifications in the wording of the repeated phrase for emphasis or stylistic effect.

When both anaphora and epistrophe are used together in a piece of writing or speech, creating repetition at both the beginning and end of successive sentences or clauses, this combination is known as symploce. Here are examples to illustrate this concept:

  1. Anaphora: “We must fight for freedom. We must stand for justice. We must unite for peace.” Epistrophe: “Freedom is our goal, justice is our guide, and peace is our gift.” Symploce Example: “To our friends, we offer our hand; to our enemies, our resolve; to all, our hearts.”
  2. Anaphora Example: “In the morning, we seek understanding. In the afternoon, we seek alliance. In the evening, we seek rest.” Epistrophe Example: “Understanding brings us closer, alliance makes us stronger, and rest makes us ready for another day.” Symploce Example: “For the workers, the fight continues; for the dreamers, the belief strengthens; for the leaders, the responsibility grows.”
  3. Anaphora Example: “In every village, there is hope. In every town, there is potential. In every city, there is talent.” Epistrophe Example: “Hope that inspires, potential that transforms, and talent that leads.” Symploce Example: “In every heart, there is a dream to follow; in every mind, a new world to explore.”

Anaphora in the Bible

  • Psalm 136: This psalm is famous for its repetitive use of “for his steadfast love endures forever” after each line, celebrating God’s enduring love through various acts and creations.

Anaphora Examples in Literature

  • “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens: The opening lines, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” effectively use anaphora to contrast the conditions of life during the French Revolution.

Anaphora Examples in Political Speeches

  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech: This iconic speech uses anaphora with the repetition of “I have a dream” to paint a vision of equality and freedom, emphasizing the dream of a better future for all.

Writers Use Anaphora for Several Impactful Reasons

  1. To Emphasize Ideas: Anaphora highlights key themes or ideas, making them more memorable and persuasive. By repeating a word or phrase, writers stress its importance within the context.
  2. To Create RhythmThe repetition inherent in anaphora adds a musical quality to the text, enhancing its readability and making it more engaging. This rhythmic pattern can captivate readers or listeners, drawing them deeper into the narrative or argument.
  3. 3. To Evoke Emotion: Anaphora can stir emotions, creating a powerful connection between the text and the audience. Whether it’s excitement, anger, sorrow, or joy, the repeated phrases intensify the emotional experience.
  4. 4. To Build Cohesion: Using anaphora can tie different parts of a text together, creating a cohesive and unified message. This technique helps readers or listeners to see the connection between various points, reinforcing the overall message.
  5. To Enhance Persuasion: In speeches and persuasive writing, anaphora serves as a tool to reinforce arguments, making them more compelling. The repetition makes the key points difficult to ignore, thereby strengthening the writer’s or speaker’s persuasive efforts.

Anaphora Examples in Songs: Let It Be” by The Beatles: The lyrics frequently repeat the phrase “let it be,” using anaphora to convey a message of acceptance and peace amidst trouble and uncertainty.

What is the most famous anaphora?

One of the most famous examples of anaphora is Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, where he repetitively uses the phrase “I have a dream” to emphasize his vision for civil rights and equality.

Is it anaphora or repetition?

Anaphora is a specific type of repetition. While repetition refers broadly to any instance where words or phrases are repeated in a text, anaphora specifically involves the repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive sentences, clauses, or phrases.

What is an example of repetition and anaphora?

Repetition: “The rain was cold – cold and relentless.” Anaphora: “Every day, every night, in every way, I am getting better and better.”

What is repetition and anaphora example?

Repetition: “The fog was thick, and the fog was obstructive, and the fog was everywhere.” Anaphora: “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets…”

What are examples of repetition?

Repetition can be as simple as repeating a single word for emphasis: “Alone, alone, utterly alone.” It can also involve phrases: “What we need is time, time to understand, time to heal, time to move forward.”

What is an example of anastrophe?

Anastrophe involves the inversion of the usual order of words for emphasis or poetic effect. A classic example is Yoda’s speech from Star Wars: “Powerful you have become; the dark side I sense in you.

In conclusion, while anaphora is a potent literary and rhetorical device that can enhance writing and speech, its effectiveness largely depends on its application and the context in which it is used.

So, there you go. Some examples of sentences and literature works which use anaphora. Use them as a guide when you will be incorporating anaphora in your next literary project or in your daily conversations.

Anaphora Generator

Text prompt

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Identify an anaphora in your favorite poem and explain its impact.

Create a short story using anaphora to highlight a character's emotions.

Write a persuasive paragraph on environmental conservation using anaphora for emphasis.

Analyze the use of anaphora in Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches.

Develop a motivational speech for students incorporating anaphora for encouragement.

Illustrate the difference between anaphora and simple repetition in literary texts.

Compose a poem about nature using anaphora to stress its beauty and importance.

Use anaphora to write a letter advocating for more school resources.

Explain how anaphora enhances the rhetorical power of political speeches.

Construct sentences with anaphora to describe your dream school environment.

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