Abrupt changes and anacoluthon

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I recently took a bit of a break because sickness, teaching, music, and writing literally weighed a ton on my soul, and now I am trying to get back into the swing of writing for pleasure after nearly a month off. I would call this an “abrupt change,” in my life and gave me pause, as many of my leaves of absence tend to do (stress and anxiety creep up on me every single time). Without a doubt, I thought about what to write each day that I didn’t commit to the craft. It wasn’t that I didn’t have ideas, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, because congestion and headaches and stress will do that to your inhibition.

Today, I would like to look briefly at anacolutha, which is also an abrupt break of sorts, but it just happens in your writing instead of your life.

What is anacolutha?

Merriam-Webster defines anacoluthon as a, “syntactical inconsistency or incoherence within a sentences. especially: a shift in an unfinished sentence from one syntactic construction to another” (Merriam-Webster). In other words, now that we are familiar with syntax from the previous post, we can understand anacolutha as a break in our sentences to move from one idea in another (though they may be unrelated.

More often than not, it is used in rhetoric as a means of persuasion, or it is perceived as a grave grammatical mistake. As Literary Devices states:

“In casual conversation, it is used in such a way that the sentence would not be considered correct grammatically. In written works, however, it is employed to imitate ungrammatical, confused, and informal speech, and to draw the attention of readers.” (literarydevices.net).


Probably the best example I found of anacoluthon from the web is from King Lear by Shakespeare, which appears in one of his more coherent passage.

I will have such revenges on you both,

That all the world–I will do such things,

What they are, yet I know not.


Take notice of the break in thought. First, it is about revenge, but then the reader can sense the frustration of the speaker and suddenly the narrative changes. I will do such things. It’s a change in tone and masks the violence in the speakers words by interrupting the thought.

Works Cited

Anacoluthon Examples. softschools.com/examples/literary_terms/anacoluthon_examples/260/.

Definition of ANACOLUTHON. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anacoluthon. Accessed 7 Dec.

Shakespeare. “King Lear.” Methuen and Co., https://www.stmarys-ca.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/files/The_Tragedy_of_King_Lear.pdf. Accessed 7 Dec. 2021.