Repetition is when a single word or phrase is used multiple times in short succession for effect. It can help emphasize a point. For example, ‘I have to practice my time’s tables over so I can learn them’ vs. ‘I have to practice my time’s tables over and over and over again so I can learn them.’
What is Repetition?
Repetition is when a word, sentence, or phrase appears more than once in a poem.
Repetition is used in poetry and prose to excite the writing and help create patterns. Depending on the repeated word or phrase, repetition allows for more emphasis on specific themes, ideas, or objects.
Common Examples of Repetition
We use repetition every day without realizing it. These are examples that you probably hear people say every day:
Time after time;
Hand in hand;
Get ready, get set, go;
Home sweet home;
It is what it is.
Repetition in Poetry
Odes are a type of poetry that traditionally make use of repetition.
Different types of repetition can be used in poetry.
- Refrain – This is where a verse or phrase is repeated during different stages of a song or poem.
- Chorus – Chorus is where a verse or phrase is repeated following each verse within a song or poem. The Christmas carol repeats the line, ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas,’ multiple times.
- Echo poems – In an echo poem, the last word of each line can be repeated as a response in the following line.
- Alliteration – Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds, often at the beginning of a word. For example, ‘The slimy snake slowly slithered away.’
- Rhyme – Rhyme is the repetition of sound using rhythmic patterns to create a musical effect.
Repetition in Prose
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, repetition is used to emphasize the size of Tom Buchanan’s apartment:
‘The apartment was on the top floor—a small living room, a small dining room, a small bedroom, and a bath.’
The repetition of the word ‘small’ highlights to the reader how tiny Tom’s apartment is.
Repetition in Persuasive Writing
Repetition can also be used in persuasive writing and media, such as adverts.
Some might also repeat positive adjectives to describe their product to make the audience think that way. For example, a water park might say it’s ‘fun, fun, fun!’.
Repetition is an excellent way to get an idea to stay in our minds, which is why many advertisers are fond of it – and why so many adverts get stuck in our heads!
7 Types of Repetition in Writing
Repetition can be a powerful tool in writing and has been commonly used in songs, poetry, and even the most powerful and memorable speeches throughout history. Seven types of repetition can be identified in writing. These include:
- Anaphora -Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of several sentences. This technique can be seen in Martin Luther King’s famous speech, ‘I have a Dream.’
- Epistrophe -This is the counterpart to anaphora. Epistrophe involves repeating the last word or phrase across successive phrases, clauses, or sentences. This means that, instead of beginning a sentence the same way, the writer will end every sentence with the same word or phrase. A famous example of this can be read in the Gettysburg Address, where Abraham Lincoln urged the American people to ensure that ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’ Here, his repetition of ‘the people’ at the end of each clause is an example of epistrophe.
- Symploce – Symploce is a combination of anaphora and epistrophe. This occurs when one word or phrase is repeated at the beginning of a line and another at the end.
- Antistasis – Antistasis repetition is when antanaclasis goes so far as to incorporate opposite meanings.
- Negative-positive restatement -This repetition requires the writer to write the same sentence twice, first with a negative intonation and then with a positive twist. For example, the famous statement, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.’
- Palilogia is the simple repetition of a single word or phrase in immediate succession. Take ‘HO! HO! HO!’, the famous words of the much-loved Father Christmas as an example.