What Is Anaphora?

Anaphora

Anaphora is a writing technique that involves repeating terms at the start of neighboring clauses or sentences.

anaphora examples

Examples of Anaphora

Anaphora is deliberately repeating terms at the start of clauses or sentences. One often-cited example is Winston Churchill's speech:
  • "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."
  • (Sir Winston Churchill)
This is another good example:
  • "The future's bright. The future's Orange."
  • (Telecommunication company Orange's slogan)

Other Types of Repetition

There are three main types of repetition:

More Examples of Anaphora

This is an example from "Richard II" by William Shakespeare:
  • "This royal throne of kings, this scepteríd isle,
    This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
    This other Eden, demi-paradise,
    This fortress built by Nature for herself
    Against infection and the hand of war..." (Playwright William Shakespeare)
This is an example from "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens:
  • "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." (Charles Dickens)

Examples of Anaphora in Songs

Here is an example of anaphora in a song ("Every Breath You Take" by The Police):
  • "Every breath you take
    Every move you make
    Every bond you break
    Every step you take
    I'll be watching you (The Police)"
This is from "Feeling Good":
  • "It's a new dawn
    It's a new day
    It's a new life
    For me
    And I'm feeling good" (sung by Nina Simone)
This is from "I've Got Rhythm":
  • "I got rhythm, I got music
    I got my man
    Who could ask for anything more?

    I got daisies in green pastures
    I got my man
    Who could ask for anything more?" (The Gershwins)
  • (Published in 1930, "I've Got Rhythm" was composed by George Gershwin with lyrics by Ira Gershwin.)

Why Should I Care about Anaphora?

As repetition creates pattern and rhythm, it is widely used in verse (poetry and song). In business writing, its use is less common, but repeating words or ideas in a business document can be useful. Used sparingly, deliberate repetition can:
  • Be used for emphasis.
  • Be memorable.
  • Make an impact.
  • Make you look confident.
Here is an example of how anaphora might appear in business correspondence:
  • Itís the cheapest solution. Itís within the companyís control, and itís quick to implement.
As with all such creative-writing techniques, however, there are also a few dangers. When using repetition as a literary device to spice up your writing, you must avoid:
  • Over-cooking. When you make your point so strongly your readers grow suspicious and start questioning it. The following quotation captures this idea.
    • "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."(an extract from "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare)
  • Redundancy. When you waste your readers' time by telling them what you've just told them and this overrides the "spice" you'd sought with the repetition.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited and printed to create exercise worksheets.

See Also

What is epiphora? What is commoratio? Glossary of grammatical terms