Hyperbatons – A Word Reversal Device That Gets Attention

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Hyperbaton is a literary device in which words, phrases, and clauses are transposed from their usual order in a sentence. However, the unfamiliar order retains the gist of the message.

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These word reversals can be used in dialogue or internal dialogue when a character wants to emphasize his message or add a little drama. For example, “A juggling yellow jacket I must see.” The usual arrangement, “I must see a juggling yellow jacket,” doesn’t have the punch.

Because hyperbatons interrupt the natural flow of sentences and can be confusing, novel writers might want to sprinkle them into their stories only occasionally.

In the following sentence pairs, decide what the sentence with the hyperbaton emphasizes that the second does not. In the first example, I think a good chef is accentuated more in the first sentence than the second. The sentence is talking more about a good chef than about the cake.


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Laura rolled her eyes. “One successful cake does not a good chef make.” (One successful cake does not make a good chef.)

Carter watched Lily retreat. Her skirt and ponytail swayed in harmony. Was there no mercy? Love struck he was. (He was love struck.)

Julie worked with persistence unstoppable. (Julie worked with unstoppable persistence.)

Until his last breath, he wouldn’t, of such a deplorable conspiracy, be part. (Until his last breath, he wouldn’t be part of such a deplorable conspiracy.)

Every ache and pain known to wrestlers he suffered. (He suffered every ache and pain known to wrestlers.)

“Stupid … ugly … and incompetent you’ve made me feel.” (You’ve made me feel stupid … ugly … and incompetent.”)

Only chaos I saw around me. (I saw only chaos around me.)

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“A knife to the heart is unrequited love.” (“Unrequited love is a knife to the heart.”)

“Alone, I’ve traversed the continent.” (“I’ve traversed the continent alone.”)

“This woman you love?” (“You love this woman?”)
“Right, you are.” (“You’re right.”)

“Into this, dear cousin, you dragged me.” (“Dear cousin, you dragged me into this.”)

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” (Bible, John 14:27) (“I leave you with my peace; I give you peace.”)

Employ hyperbatons in sentences; the word reversals can emphasize words. Click to tweet.

What hyperbaton do you use in your everyday conversations?

Amplification: Embellish What You Just Wrote With More Information

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What Amplification Is

Amplification is a literary device. Suppose you write a statement, but it doesn’t give the reader enough information to fully understand it or see the full impact of the object, idea, or event. So, you add information to further explain it or to emphasize it. You are using amplification.

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    Jeannie entered her apartment. Callie’s brother, lay on the sofa. What was her roommate’s brother doing—besides sleeping—in their apartment?
    She crossed her arms over her ribcage. “Ahem.”
    Justin’s eyes opened, and he looked around, confused. He turned his head toward her and startled.
     “Why are you here, Justin.” 
     “I’m sick. My temperature is up to 102 degrees, I have a sore throat, and my head is pounding. Callie went to the drugstore to get me some meds.”

The sentence in italics is an example of amplification. Justin and the author wanted Jeannie to realize how sick he is to justify his presence in the girls’ apartment.

Why Amplification Is Important

Amplification works well to:

  • reinforce a point.
  • highlight something important.
  • elicit emotion from the reader.
  • persuade why an idea should be considered.
  • make an object or an idea more vivid to the reader.
  • increase the reader’s understanding about something.
  • supplement an initial abrupt sentence.

More Examples


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1. Original Sentence: I stuck my head inside the opening in the stone face that stretched from the ground to my shoulders. The bat cave was a horror house inside.

The reader struggles to imagine what was going on in a bat “horror house.” The reader needs more information and description.

Rewrite: I stuck my head inside the opening in the stone face that stretched from the ground to my shoulders. The bat cave was a horror house inside. Black rodents with collapsed wings hung from every ridge in the stone ceiling. Flying bats dive-bombed two cats. The gray cat swiped a bat from the air. I jumped out of its way as it slinked outside with its squirming prey between its teeth. The biggest bat I’d ever seen swooped down and sunk its claws into the black cat’s coat. The cat screeched, performed three wrangling flips, and raced into the sunlight, the bat riding the cat as if it were a bucking bronco.

2. The 24-foot, food-laden table was the showpiece that—with its clawed feet, its massive armed chairs, and its purple brocade tablecloth presenting gold-rimmed china and crystal goblets filled with a red beverage—looked like a cross between a king’s feast and Dracula’s repast for vampires.

Use amplification to emphasize or add information to what you just stated. Click to tweet.

What reasons do you, or might you, use amplification?