Rhetorical Devices: Anastrophe

This post is part of a series on rhetoric and rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link.

Device: Anastrophe

Origin: From the Greek ἀναστροφή (anastrophē), meaning “a turning back or about”.

In plain English: Changing the syntax (structure) of a sentence such that the subject, object, verb, adjectives, etc. are in an unusual grammatical order.


  • The unusual word order forces us to think a bit longer to understand the sentence, giving it a wiser, more profound quality.
  • By inverting the normal order of the words, a speaker can give added emphasis to a particular word; e.g., “I value liberty the most.” vs “Liberty, I value the most.”


  • Anastrophe is more common in poetry than in prose. Poets often use it to maintain the rhythm or rhyme scheme of a poem.
  • Anastrophe should be used rarely when speaking. Unless it fits perfectly, it will sound pretentious or just plain silly.
  • Yoda is a master of anastrophe (and also of anadiplosis).


Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer.

— Winston Churchill, 14 September 1914


Pointy-haired Boss: “From now on, I’ll be using the chaos theory of management.”

Wally: “And this will be different how?”

Pointy-haired Boss: “Now there’s a name for it.”

Dilbert Comic Strip, 5 March 1998



Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.”

“Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things.”

Patience you must have, my young Palawan.

Left behind, no one will be.”

“Bring him here. Question him we will.”

Powerful you have become. The dark side I sense in you.”

“When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not.”

— Yoda


Paul Bratter: “I want to know why you want a divorce.”

Corrie Bratter: “I just told you. Because you and I have absolutely nothing in common.”

Paul Bratter: “What about those six days at the Plaza?”

Corrie Bratter: “Six days does not a week make.”

Paul Bratter: “What does that mean?”

Corrie Bratter: “I don’t know what it means.”

— Richard Thomas and Bess Armstrong, Barefoot in the Park, 1981

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Celebrating Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream”

On 28 August 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered one of the most famous speeches in history, I Have a Dream. I write this post on the 53rd anniversary of that momentous occasion.

Recently, I was in Washington to deliver a talk at a convention. While there, my wife and I had the opportunity to take in many of the sights. To celebrate the anniversary of I Have a Dream, I have created a slideshow of some of photos that I took at the Lincoln Memorial and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, mixed with some historical photos of the great man himself.

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And, one more time, the final five minutes of that incredible speech.

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“This Moved Me” Podcast: My Interview with Sally Koering Zimney

Sally Koering Zimney

Sally Koering Zimney

Sally Koering Zimney is a presentation coach, speaker, writer and host of the podcast, This Moved Me. She works with speakers and develops event programs. Sally also speaks to groups of people, helping them share their stories and move their audiences.

You can find out more about Sally, her background and her philosophy when it comes to public speaking on her website.

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Sally about public speaking. You can listen to our talk below. You can also read some of Sally’s highlights here.

John Zimmer QuoteIn our free flowing discussion, we touch on a number of topics, including the following:

1. My journey from the law to professional speaking.

2. The value of narrative when it comes to persuasion.

3. Toastmasters and the benefits of having an audience where you can experiment with your public speaking.

4. Your key message and the importance of “Why?”

5. The five “Fs” from your life that audiences love.

To find out more about Sally and the services that she provides, please visit her website. You can also subscribe to her podcast on iTunes for free and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 240) – Howard Thurman

Howard Thurman (1899 - 1981) American Author, Theologian, and Civil Rights Leader

Howard Thurman (1899 – 1981) American Author, Theologian, and Civil Rights Leader

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

— Howard Thurman

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2,000,000 visits!

I have just returned to Geneva from a speaking engagement at the Toastmasters International Convention in Washington, D.C. (More about that in a future post.)

At some point during the eight-hour flight across the Atlantic Ocean, this blog hit another milestone: 2,000,000 visits.


I am in awe of this number and so grateful for all of the support. The Manner of Speaking community has grown by leaps and bounds since I wrote the first post in May 2009. Thank you for being a part of it! 

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