November 5, 2008 at 10:30 am (Uncategorized)

anapest (n.) – a metric foot composed of two short syllables followed by a long one, as in the word seventeen

“You can’t say, ‘Where’s it?’ So the choice is between ‘Where is it?’ and ‘Where’s it at?’, and the latter, a strong anapest, is prettier and trips off the tongue better.”+

Wallace, David Foster. “Authority and American Usage.” Consider the Lobster. New York: Back Bay Books, 2007. p 99.



  1. evonn gibbs said,

    I’m missing something. here. ‘Where’s it at?’ sounds like it would be a backwards anapest if such a thing existed. It sounds like one long syllable followed by two short syllables. I hope I don’t sound dumb, but can someone help understand?

  2. rjleaman said,

    I’m sure that a “backwards anapest” must exist — and there’s probably a word for it! — but let’s stick with just the forwards one, or I’ll get hopelessly confused! 😀

    Anapest: it’s like music. It’s not about the length of the word in letters on the page, but the emphasis and length of time the vowels are drawn out. Try saying “Where’s it at” aloud a couple of times, then replace the words with “De de dum.” Then try the same thing with “Where is it” — “De de de” — Hear the difference? Does that help?

  3. Nancy said,

    Thanks, Rebecca. That’s brilliant.

  4. evonn said,

    It’s a little late but I just saw your reply, “Rebecca.” Yes you are brilliant! The vowel drawl in “at!”‘
    I hear it! De de de!

    Thank you for being my teacher,

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