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Can someone please give me an elementary school definition of an iamb and help complete...

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sammyk | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 1, 2009 at 9:34 PM via web

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Can someone please give me an elementary school definition of an iamb and help complete my assignment?

Take a paragraph you’ve written (at least 250 words long) and rewrite it so that it’s entirely in iambs. 

If this is the beginning of my paragraph, how can it be written as an iamb and why?

Matthew loved the coffee shop, but he hated coffee. Caffeine made him sick. He wished he could order a diet coke, but no one went to a coffee shop for a coke. So he learned how to guzzle the coffee down. His original plan was to drink it black because he was fond of the motorcyclists who wandered in occasionally, straddling the stools at the counter and ordering their coffee black - tough and hard - as if asking someone to punch them. Matthew wanted to be like them, but black coffee was disgusting; he might as well have been drinking river pollution.


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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 2, 2009 at 10:46 AM (Answer #3)

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An iamb is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.

In your first sentence, "Matthew loved the coffee shop, but he hated coffee." you have an iamb in the name Matthew. (Ma=unstressed  thew=stressed). But since your next word, "loved" is one stressed, you do not have an iamb.

So, read through your paragraph marking a u over the unstressed syllables and a / over the stressed.  Keeping in mind that you must have just one unstressed followed by a stressed (more force of your voice) syllable to have iambs, you will have to rewrite some sentences.

Here is an example of iambic pentameter (5 iambs) that Shakespeare uses in the Prologue of "Romeo and Juliet":

Two households both alike in dignity

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tresvivace | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted January 2, 2009 at 10:46 AM (Answer #4)

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An iamb is a unit of two syllables in a poem. The first syllable is light (unstressed) and the second is heavy (stressed).  Of all four common types of meter, iambic is the one closest to natural speech so many poems are in an iambic rhythm.  Probably the simplest way to understand it is to say this aloud: ta-TUM (with a strong emphasis on "TUM").  Say it again: ta-TUM.  Now pound your feet--first a light tap, then a heavy thud.  Tap and pound as you say "ta-TUM."  You can also clap your hands to "ta-TUM"--again, first light, then heavy. 

 Now try to put some iambs together: 

ta-TUM, ta-TUM, ta-TUM, ta-TUM

Now let's try some words: 

 a-WAY / we GO / through RAIN  / and SNOW

 There are four iambs in that line of verse: can you hear them?

 Here's a revision of your paragraph into iambs: 

Young MATT-hew LOVED the COF-fee SHOP but COF-fee HE dis-LIKED.  He WISHED they'd SERVE a DI-et COKE, but THAT was NOT to BE.  He LEARNED to GUZ-zle COF-fee DOWN and E-ven DRINK it BLACK.  He LIKED the MO-to-CY-clists WHO all DRANK their COF-fee BLACK. They STRAD-dled STOOLS, were HARD and TOUGH as MATT-hew YEARNED to BE.  But  COF-fee SO dis-GUST-ed HIM-- like SEW-age IT did SEEM.

Be sure to PUNCH the capitalized syllables so that you can hear the "ta-TUMs"--the iambic rhythm.

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