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Figure of Speech

Antimetabole Examples: Antimetabole for Students and Children

Antimetaboles are figures of speech that you might have come across a dozen of times in course of a conversation or while reading a piece of literature, but just ignored it as any other phrase or idiomatic expression. An antimetabole refers to two unique arrangements of words in a particular sentence. Here ideas, expressions, or a series of numbers appear in two unique patterns, where the second pattern or order appears in a sequence that is in opposite direction to the first pattern or order. Here are very simple examples of antimetaboles: I-J-K, K-J-I or 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. With the help of these examples, understanding what antimetabole means should not be much of a trouble for you. Apply the same logic to words or sentences and you have for yourself a whole lot of antimetaboles. Explore this article for examples on antimetabole and gain a better understanding of this rhetoric device.

Antimetabole Examples

  • “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
  • “Virtue that transgressed is but patch’d with sin, And sin that amends is but patch’d with virtue.”
  • “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
  • “This man I thought had been a Lord among wits, but, I find, he is only a wit among Lords.”
  • “Let us preach what we practice – Let us practice what we preach.” “It is not even the beginning of the end but is perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
  • “Those of us who have been granted a disproportionate ability to express ourselves may not always have the best selves to express.”
  • “I, too, was born in the slum. But just because you’re born in the slum does not mean the slum is born in you, and you can rise above it if your mind is made up.”
  • “It is said that you can take the Indian out of India, but you can never take India out of the Indian.”
  • “Starkist doesn’t want tuna with good taste; Starkist wants tuna that tastes good!” – A very popular advertising slogan.
  • “I can run faster than anyone who can run for longer, and I can run for longer than anyone who can run faster.”
  • “Fair is foul and foul is fair.”
  • “Get the body you deserve, if you fail to do this, try deserving the body you get.”
  • “Who sheds the blood of a man, by a man shall his blood be shed” – The Bible
  • “A government that seizes control of the economy for the good of the people ends up seizing control of the people for the good of the economy.”
  • “I, too, was born in the slum. But just because you’re born in the slum does not mean the slum is born in you, and you can rise above it if your mind is made up.”
  • “A king, who believes in the survival of his people for the survival of his kingdom, also believes in the survival of his kingdom for the survival of his people.”
  • “The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.”
  • “We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
  • “I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.”
  • “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”
  • “We eat to live, not live to eat.”
  • “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
  • “It is not even the beginning of the end but is perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
  • “Those who know aren’t talking, and those who are talking don’t know.”
  • “Conservatives believe it when they see it; liberals see it when they believe it.”
  • “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
  • “Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment.”
  • “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it, and just because you should do something doesn’t mean that you can do it.”
  • “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; in practice, there is a big difference.”

Remember, antimetaboles can only be deemed effective when they make enough sense. If they fail to make sense, they cannot really be considered as antimetaboles. People who believe that they have mastered the art of churning out antimetaboles often come up with phrases or sentences that are very different from what they really imply. For example, a ‘smart Alec’ may try come with something like this and expect it to pass off as an antimetabole, which may not really be the case: ‘Just because the lion is asleep, does not make the lion sleep’. Now, one look at this example and anyone would tell you that not only are it not an antimetabole. It is also not a sentence that can be considered as grammatically correct. You will have to keep this in mind when dealing with it. Antimetaboles are effective and help drive home a point only because they are memorable. Anyone who can relate to the first half can make sense out of the second half, if expressed well. On a parting note, look at this example: “It is not about the years in your life, but about the life in your years.” Now, an example like this will make a lot of sense to the topic on hand, not only because it is antimetabole, but also because it is grammatically correct.

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