Within oral communication, the speaker must perform many cognitive tasks at the same time, such as paying attention to what is said by the interlocutor, creating a response suitable for the answer, anticipating their reaction or a possible reply to what they are being told, taking care that their use of language is adjusted to the situation, remembering information from the past and verbal tenses, etc. Because of all these circumstances, your attention and memory resources are generally overloaded. The word anacoluthon refers to the lack of consequence when an expression is elaborated. In other words, we can say that it is a solecism, which implies that there is a syntax failure, which in turn implies a language rules violation.


Related topics

Anadiplosis, cataphora, polysyndeton

What is an anacoluthon?

An anacoluthon is a rhetorical figure that supposes an incorrect syntactic elaboration of a phrase, it is the inconsistency that is presented in a speech and whose error can cause that one or more words are not in agreement with the rest of the phrase.

The anacoluthon encloses in turn a modification of the structure of the discourse when it is developing, causing a lack of consistency. It usually appears more frequently within colloquial language, and usually happens unconsciously.


The term anacoluthon is a word that comes from Latin, specifically from the word “anacoluthon“. This word at the same time has its origin in the Greek word “anakoluthos“, which can be explained in two clearly differentiated parts:

It is also important to mention that the word is recognized as a rupture in the syntax of a sentence, an imbalance or asymmetry that sometimes leads to incoherence.

It also has a word that is considered its synonym, and this is “solecism“. This term comes from the Latin soloecismus, which at the same time comes from the Greek language σολοικισμός or soloikismós, which has the meaning “syntactic error“. Its origin is the word σόλοικος (soloikos), applied to the inhabitants of Solos in Cilicia, who spoke a highly peculiar variety of Greek.

Characteristics of the anacoluthon

Some of the most important features of the anacoluthon are as follows:

Uses of anacoluthon

When the anacoluthon is made on purpose, it is then taken into account as a rhetorical resource that is used to achieve expressive effects. In “El Quijote de la Mancha” by Cervantes, we find many of them. It can also be used as a literary resource that serves to make representations of a colloquial character or tell a story that takes place in a popular environment.


Some examples of anacoluthon are the following:

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

How to cite this article?

Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). Anacoluthon. Recovered on 23 February, 2024, de Euston96:

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