English Grammar

Hyperbatic coma characteristics and examples in detail

Hyperbatic coma

The hyperbatic comma is one that is used when there is a modification in the syntactic order of the elements that make up a sentence. Like all other types of commas, hyperbatic has the effect of a short pause during speech. Its name is due to the fact that it is used in sentences that have hyperbaton. Hyperbatic coma characteristics and examples

Precisely, this figure of diction consists of the alteration of the order of the elements that make up the propositions. Although the structure changes, they maintain their original meaning.

The resource is used to give literary beauty to the works. Furthermore, it can be used to create atmospheres of intrigue and increase the interest of the reader or the audience.

For its part, the hyperbatic comma – also known as the comma of disorder – has the function of pointing out the elements whose positions have been changed within the sentence.

Thus, in the sentence Manuel kisses Violeta (with subject + verb + complement structure) some hyperbatic variations can be specified.

One of these variations is achieved by changing the structure to the form complement + verb + subjectA Violeta, kiss Manuel. Another variation can generate the structure verb + complement + subjectBesa a Violeta, Manuel. In each one, the signaling function of the hyperbatic coma can be observed.


As already mentioned, the hyperbatic coma is used to mark the literary and diction figure known as hyperbaton. This, in turn, consists of a syntactic alteration that serves to emphasize the meanings in a text.

In this sense, it is very common for the syntax of those contents that manifest altered moods, passionate conflicts and emotions to be altered to achieve certain effects.

By making use of the hyperbaton and – hence – of the hyperbatic coma, a textual production gains musicality, rhythm and expressiveness.

On the other hand, this figure does not appear generally in oral speeches. It is almost exclusively for the use of written language, and the orthographic regulations oblige this marriage between the hyperbaton and the hyperbatic coma.  Hyperbatic coma characteristics and examples

Uses of hyperbatic coma

The hyperbatic comma is placed at the end of the part that is anticipated by reversing the regular order of a sentence. This can be seen in the sentence: Running out of ammunition, the general confirmed his surrender. Without the hyperbaton, the sentence would remain: The general confirmed his surrender by running out of ammunition .

Precisely, as in the previous case, one of the most common uses of this comma is when the order of the main and subordinate clauses is reversed.

The inversion of prepositional phrases is also common. This can be seen in the following examples:

  • Having nothing to offer, he left the place shortly after.
  • Since he never had the slightest bit of regret, he never asked for forgiveness.
  • If he had not decided to leave earlier, he would have witnessed something unusual.
  • As for your money, I don’t want it.


In poetry

Partner, you know that you can count on me, not up to two or up to ten but count on me. If you ever notice that I look you in the eye, and you recognize a streak of love in mine, do not alert your rifles or think that I am delirious; Despite the vein, or maybe because it exists, you can count on me. If other times you find me sullen for no reason, don’t think I’m lazy, you can count on me …

(Let’s make a deal, Mario Benedetti)

In this fragment of Benedetti’s poem, the use of the hyperbatic coma can be noted on three occasions. The first occurs in the verse : If you ever / notice / that I look into her eyes, / and a streak of love / recognizes in mine, / don’t alert your rifles / or think I’m delirious.

Note that without the inversion the verse would remain: Do not alert your rifles or think that I am delirious if you ever notice that I look you in the eye and you recognize a streak of love in mine.

The second case is in the same stanza: despite the vein, / or maybe because it exists, / you can count on / me. If it followed the natural order it would be: You can count on  me despite the grain or maybe because it exists. Hyperbatic coma characteristics and examples

Finally, the third case is in the third stanza: If other times / you find me / sullen for no reason, / don’t think I’m lazy / you can still count on me.

This verse without the hyperbaton would be: Don’t think you’re lazy if other times you find me sullen for no reason, you can still count on me.

In prose

“« Good luck », he whispered, as he does every year on this day, and I left with a coat and an umbrella, went down six steps, skirted the pool …

In this fragment of Isabel Allende’s work, the use of the hyperbatic comma is observed to mark the inversion of the verb and its complement (direct object): “Good luck,” he whispered . In this way, the writer places the emphasis on what is whispered and not on the act of whispering it.

“I lost several things in Buenos Aires. Because of trouble or bad luck, no one knows where they ended up. I came out with some clothes and a handful of papers. I dont complain. With so many lost people, crying over things would be like disrespecting pain. ” (Days and nights of love and war, Eduardo Galeano)

Here, again, the use of this figure is appreciated: Due to haste or bad luck, no one knows where they went. In doing so, in this particular sentence, the author highlights the cause and not the action.

In addition, and with the same effect, the hyperbatic coma is present in With so many lost people, crying about things would be like disrespecting painHyperbatic coma characteristics and examples

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