An Introduction to Anapodoton

Anapodoton is a figure of speechOpens in new window for which its expression stops half way as a result of a break in the syntactic units; or when in its sentence, there is an absence of clause or a correlative pair either in the beginning, middle or at the end; but nonetheless, the omitted part is implied and understood.

Anapodoton is a term derived from Greek, literally “without the apodosis” or “wanting the apodosis,” i.e., the main clause in a conditional sentence.

In a typical anapodoton construction, the main clause Opens in new window is suggested by the introduction of a subordinate clause, but the main clause is not included in the sentence Opens in new window, as shown in the example below.

  • “If the attempt succeeds,” [the understood but unexpressed apodosis (part) being], “it will be well.”
  • (Thucydides 3.3.)
Other Examples of Anapodoton
  • “If you think I'm going to sit here and take your insults...”
  • (implied: “then you are mistaken”)
  • “If you think you have succeeded in stopping me …”
  • (Here we see a dependent clause which grammatically does not work, but still makes sense)
    qtd. in Gregory T. Howard, Dictionary of Rhetorical Terms)

Another variation or a subset of anapodoton sometimes occur, in which case, the subordinate clause is left incomplete, while this rarely occurs, when it does, it is known as anantapodoton.