Anaphora Examples – Definition and Usage


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?

One remarkable speech that uses anaphora is the I Have a Dream speech by Dr. Martin Luther King.

“Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”

Anaphora is defined by Merriam Webster as the repetition of a word or phrase or expression at the beginning of phrases, clauses, sentences, or verses successively with the main purpose of having a rhetorical or poetic effect. You may also see exclamatory sentences.

When writers and speakers make use of anaphora, they strive to get an effect from the readers or listeners by appealing to their feelings or pathos. It is in the repetition that makes the readers or listeners anticipate what the next line or sentences could be. The use of anaphora can easily draw attention, making the audience receptive to emotions that the writer or speaker wants to exude. You may also see compound sentences.

Anaphora is actually one of the oldest literary devices in history and it’s use can be traced back to the BC/BCE timeline.


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.


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

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.

More Design