Repetition is defined as using a term more than once or making the same point more than once. Below are the three main types of deliberate repetition used in writing:
  • Anaphora: repeating terms at the start of sentences.
  • Epiphora: repeating terms at the end of sentences.
  • Commoratio: repeating an idea back to back using different words.

Examples of Anaphora

  • The futureís bright. The futureís Orange.
  • 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)

Examples of Epiphora

  • Sheís safe, just like I promised. Sheís all set to marry Norrington, just like she promised. And you get to die for her, just like you promised. (Jack Sparrow)
  • He went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it. He now tours schools talking about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

Examples of Commoratio

  • "Space is big. You just wonít believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think itís a long way down the road to the chemistís, but thatís just peanuts to space. (The Hitchhikerís Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams)
  • "Itís not pininí. Itís passed on! This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be! Itís expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late parrot! Itís a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadnít nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolical processes are of interest only to historians! Itís hopped the twig! Itís shuffled off this mortal coil! Itís run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! This is an ex-parrot!" (Monty Pythonís Dead Parrot Sketch)
  • Why Should I Care about Repetition?

    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 make your message more impactful and memorable as well as portray you as confident.

    Here are some examples of how repetition might appear in business correspondence:
    • Itís the cheapest solution. Itís within the companyís control, and itís quick to implement.
    • (This is anaphora.)
    • The solution is not making 10 people redundant. All that achieves is making 10 people redundant.
    • (This is epiphora.)
    • We are impressed by the viability of your proposal. It seems very achievableÖvery feasible indeed.
    • (This is commoratio.)

    Key Points

    • Used sparingly, repetition is memorable. Used sparingly, it's impactful. Used like chilli Rocket Fuel Sauce rather than salt, it can be indelibly thought-provoking.
    • Yeah, it can also be annoying.
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