Exercise 1 of 10

Try to determine this proverb’s function, frame, and finish.
Expand each section by clicking the “+” to see how well you did.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.”

What is the FUNCTION of this proverb?

This is a prescription proverb, because it is prescribing a method for success.

What FRAME is this proverb built upon?

This proverb is built on a conditional frame because it’s referring to a specific situation. The word if is a leading indicator of most conditional frames. This proverb is saying that if you ever find yourself in a situation where you must succeed, then you must be persistent.

What FINISH (or finishes) have been applied to this proverb?

This proverb has a few finishes:

1) Double-use. By repeating the word try, the author has added emphasis to the level of persistence one needs to overcome inevitable setbacks. It’s obviously more powerful than If at first you don’t succeed, try again.

2) Ellipsis. Typically, the word if is accompanied by the word then. The proverb may have been originally written, If at first you don’t succeed, then try try again, but the author decided to imply the then by editing it out. The more you can imply the better.

3) Poetic Rhythm. An argument can be made that rhythm is involved in this proverb as it’s delivered using seven beats–written below with one line per beat.

  1. If
  2. at first
  3. you don’t
  4. succeed
  5. try
  6. try
  7. again
EXTRA CREDIT: What METAPHOR is this proverb based upon?
This proverb is based upon the metaphor: Persistence is success.