Rhetorical Device Polysyndeton

Rhetorical cartoonThe rhetorical device, polysyndeton, is the opposite of asyndeton, the term I explained in my last post.

Asyndeton omits conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses. Polysyndeton adds several conjunctions in close succession between each word, phrase, or clause without commas. It makes the sentence slower and the items more emphatic than in asyndeton. The repetition of the conjunctions creates a rhythm and a feeling of endless continuity.

Examples: “…here and there and everywhere”

“They asked for cake and candy and ice cream and chocolate.”

“The student read and studied and wrote notes in the hope of passing the exam.”

“When she heard the news report, Jill grabbed her keys and her purse and her umbrella and her flashlight.” The use of polysyndeton slows her action which implies she was careful to take what she needed.

“When she heard the news report, Jill grabbed her keys, her purse, her umbrella, and her flashlight.” The use of asyndeton speeds up her action implying she’s in a hurry.

Write a sentence with a series of words and try one way with asyndeton, without conjunctions, and write it again with polysyndeton, with conjunctions (but no commas).

Which way worked better?

4 Comments

Filed under Rhetorical Devices

4 responses to “Rhetorical Device Polysyndeton

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed these last to posts, Julaina. I didn’t know what they were called, but I’ve used both in my writing because they “felt” right. Now I’ll know why one way feels better than another in a particular piece. Thanks much!

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  2. I write memoirs and crime fiction. Repetitious “ands” without commas make my readers say “cut out the fluff and get on with the story.”

    Like

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