English: opposites in writing

Tutoring English, you notice devices that catch attention. The tutor mentions the use of opposites.

I think people are interested when they hear opposites in the same sentence. I know I am, and still recall a couple of examples from decades ago:

But the truth is I knew you were lying
-Tina Turner, “When the Heartache is Over”

When people hear “truth” and “lie” at the same time, I think the contradiction draws them in, so they start listening more closely.

Perhaps an even more powerful use of opposites comes from Shakespeare:

You wronged yourself to write in such a case.
-Julius Caesar, IV,iii,6

The juxtaposition of “wrong” with “write” sounds like “wrong” and “right”. Once again, the opposite (sounding) words, said in the same sentence, arrest the reader’s (or the hearer’s) attention. Shakespeare’s cleverness at making a word count for two is evident here.



Shakespeare, William. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Ware: Wordsworth Editions Ltd, 1996.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

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