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Using parallelism, anaphoras, and epistrophes …

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Are you using parallelism, anaphoras, and epistrophes?

What am I talking about? And using them for what? To enhance the appeal of your writing, of course!

The academics in this crowd with degrees in English already know what these words mean.

We all know what the word parallel means, but perhaps not as applied to writing. However, I’d guess that most of us (including me until recently), may not remember what anaphoras, and epistrophes are. (I’m not sure I’d ever heard those words before.)

We don’t need to know their names to use them, or to appreciate the ease of reading when others use them. 

reading is fun

Parallelism uses words or ideas in parallel. Anaphora and epistrophe use repetition. All three techniques add melody to your words and make them more memorable.

Parallelism is the tool we use most often.

That's because it is important when writing lists. When the items in a list are parallel, the list makes sense and flows nicely. The addition of a non-parallel word or phrase throws the list, and the whole sentence, off kilter. Consider the sentence: “She loved dancing, singing, and to go out to dinner.” It’s just “off”.

A famous example of parallelism is Neil Armstrong’s declaration as he set foot on the moon: “That’s one small step for man, one giant step for mankind.”

Epistrophes employ repetition at the end of sentences or phrases within a sentence.

Abraham Lincoln used an epistrophe when he said: “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

How about: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck… it’s probably a duck.

The repeating words don’t need to be close together to have an impact on the overall tone of a story. Consider these words from Edgar Allen Poe:

"And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee."

"For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee."

Anaphoras repeat a word or phrase at the beginning.

Stay safe. Stay well. Stay happy.
Go big or go home.

In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens used an anaphora in this introduction: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

And then there’s Churchill’s famous cry: “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.”

All three of these tools make statements easy to read, and even memorable. In some cases they also cause us to remember the person who made the statement. So the question is:

Could you make yourself more memorable by using parallelism, anaphoras, and epistrophes in your marketing?

Think about it. Could you write a tag line using one of these methods? Could you incorporate one of them into the introduction to your listing presentation materials - or later in the presentation? Could you use one in your signature block?


Comments (31)

Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Marte. Like Carol Williams, I use them all the time. Never knew the names or the definitions. It just is what it is. Wonder how log I will remember the words in your title? Not long I bet! Enjoy your day.

Dec 11, 2023 04:42 AM
Marte Cliff

Wayne Martin Thanks for the chuckle - because I too wonder how long I will remember the words.

Dec 11, 2023 08:13 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

I didn't really know what any of those were until I read your post, haha.  It seems that I always learn something good from your posts!

Dec 11, 2023 05:02 AM
Marte Cliff

Thanks Brian England - I try to share when I learn something interesting.

Dec 11, 2023 08:13 AM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I read your title and had no idea what anaphoras or epistrophes were. Thank you for the explanation! I'll have to pay attention to how/what I repeat.

Dec 11, 2023 05:18 AM
Marte Cliff

Kat Palmiotti - I have a feeling that if I run across these words a year from now I'll think that I recognize them, but wonder why. Meanwhile, I hope to make better use of the concepts.

Dec 11, 2023 08:15 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good one, Marte! I really did not know those terms, but I was very familiar with how those concepts worked.

Dec 11, 2023 05:25 AM
Marte Cliff

Nina Hollander, Broker - They do make words flow easily. And they do make ideas easier to remember.

Dec 11, 2023 08:16 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Dec 16, 2023 07:40 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thank you Kathy Streib!

Dec 16, 2023 08:10 PM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

Like others, I had no idea what those words mean. I am also sure that I will forget them. I hope that I remember the concepts behind those words. The concepts are very worth remembering.

Dec 17, 2023 08:14 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

John Juarez - I can almost guarantee that I will forget those names and only remember the concepts.

Dec 17, 2023 08:52 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Marte Cliff -  What a wonderful job you did explaining these concepts in grammar.  I have used these concepts without knowing what they were called.  I am grateful fo your wonderful explanation. 

Dec 17, 2023 04:26 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thank you Sheri Sperry - MCNE® - I appreciate your kind words. I didn't know what they were called either, and I'm fairly certain that I won't remember for long. 

Dec 17, 2023 04:40 PM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

Did not know these words, but have seen examples.

Dec 18, 2023 05:15 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Leanne Smith - I knew the word parallelism, but had never heard the others. I'm sure some people know and use them, but I'm not one of them. As far as I'm concerned, the names don't matter - but the concepts do, because they work.

Dec 18, 2023 09:48 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Marte Cliff - Your photo of the three different poses of the same baby got my attention! Then you raised my eyebrows with your first line: "Are you using parallelism, anaphoras, and epistrophes?" 

What a great educational post! Real Estate Agents need to focus more on their English vocabulary than counting on making more money! I don't recall ever learning anaphoras or epistrophes. 

Dec 21, 2023 07:18 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP I don't recall hearing of them before either. Of course, I've never worried about memorizing terms like that, so even if some teacher along the way had mentioned them (which I doubt) I probably wouldn't remember.

I don't think the names are important - only the concepts.

It was fun finding that baby picture - how better to represent repetition?

Dec 21, 2023 08:20 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC

Like others, I've used these concepts but, didn't know what they were called - or if I did, totally forgot their names, Marte! Thank you for such a wonderful explanation of each of the three concepts. 

Have a lovely Christmas! 🎄

Dec 22, 2023 07:02 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thank you Debe Maxwell, CRS - so far I haven't talked with anyone who knew those terms. I sure didn't!

I wish you a wonderful Christmas as well!

Dec 22, 2023 09:27 AM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Love all and any of your worthwhile posts Marte Cliff !

Dec 22, 2023 01:03 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thank you Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573 - I appreciate that.

Merry Christmas!

Dec 22, 2023 01:21 PM
Peter Mohylsky, Beach Expert
PMI. Destin - Miramar Beach, FL
Call me at 850-517-7098

Nice, i am impressed as well as feeling very dumb.  I need to review this several times,  

Dec 22, 2023 03:34 PM
Marte Cliff

I'll try this again, Peter Mohylsky, Beach Expert - first time got an internal server error.

There's no need to feel dumb. Those aren't exactly terms that we use inn our day to day work. I doubt if we even heard them in high school or college English classes - unless we were going for some kind of advanced degrees.We just need to know the concepts - not their names.

Dec 22, 2023 03:58 PM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

A very interesting post and potential challenge!  Maybe that should be a challenge for the new year?  Write a post of which method we would us to enhance our marketing?  I'll give this some thought.  Thank you so much for this very interesting information, although I'd call it much more than that.

Dec 26, 2023 03:17 PM