What is a Non Sequitur? Definition, Examples, and Purpose

20 December 2023 / Team Fun English Course

What is a non sequitur? The term may not typically be part of English courses, especially for beginners. However, understanding non-sequiturs is just as important as other aspects of the language and can greatly benefit your comprehension and communication skills.

In this article, we will explore the meaning of non sequitur and provide examples to illustrate the concept. Let’s delve into the world of non sequitur together!

Non Sequitur Definition

Non sequitur definition

Originating from Latin, “non sequitur” translates to “it does not follow.” Introduced into English during the 1500s, it is commonly defined as “a statement that comes suddenly or out of the blue.”

However, the non sequitur goes beyond sudden statements. It represents a statement that lacks a logical connection to the previous context or statement, creating an irrelevant point in the conversation or discussion.

In short, illogical relevance lies at the heart of non sequitur. Therefore, a non sequitur antonym is a logical or relevant statement.

What does a non sequitur sound like? Here are a few examples:

“I have a dog. Therefore, the sun is shining.”

There’s no logical connection between having a dog and the weather, making this a non sequitur statement.

“The moon landing was in 1969. Hence, the ocean is vast.”

There’s no logical link between the moon landing date and the ocean’s size, making this statement a non sequitur.

Non sequitur statements can even occur despite the lack of conjunctions, and it can happen in two individuals’ conversations. For instance:

Person 1: “I’m heading to the store to buy some milk.”

Person 2: “I enjoy horseback riding.”

These two statements lack any relevant connection, making it a non-sequitur statement.

False Non-Sequitur Examples

Non sequitur fallacy

As you have learned, an irrelevant connection is a sign of non sequitur. However, there are situations where something might seem like a non sequitur at first glance but has a logical connection or explanation. Here are a few examples:

“The grass is wet. Therefore, my coffee is cold.”

This statement may seem unrelated. However, the wet grass could imply rainy or damp weather, making one’s coffee turn cold faster. So, there might be a logical explanation for the situation, excluding non sequitur as a possibility.

“I’m feeling sleepy. Therefore, I’ll make a cup of chamomile tea.”

Feeling sleepy and making tea might seem unrelated. However, chamomile tea is known as a remedy for inducing relaxation and aiding sleep, automatically providing logic and ruling out non sequitur in the statement.

Non-Sequitur Fallacy: When Is the Use of Non-Sequitur Allowed?

Non sequitur fallacy

Oftentimes, non sequitur is considered a logical fallacy, a type of flaw in a train of thought. This is why it frequently appears in discussions or studies related to logic and critical thinking, such as philosophy or communication courses.

However, there are occasions where non sequitur is appreciated, such as generating a surprise or comedic sense.

One of the famous media’s most popular non sequitur jokes is from the iconic 1990s TV series, Friends. Phoebe Buffay, one of the show’s main characters, is known for her eccentric, out-of-the-blue lines, such as:

“Ooh, I just pulled out four eyelashes.”

While seemingly unrelated to the conversation (or lack thereof), this line adds a comedic element that makes viewers wonder, “Where did that come from?” It’s the unexpectedness that makes these moments enjoyable.

Understanding non sequitur doesn’t just enhance your appreciation of English wit and humor but strengthens your critical thinking and communication skills, effectively reducing miscommunication in everyday interactions.

At Fun English Course, we can help you develop these valuable skills. Our English programs prioritize best practice methods, each designed by our grade-A tutors to make the learning process enjoyable and comprehensive.

Once you start your English learning journey with us, answering the question of “What is a non sequitur?” will feel like a breeze. Join us today and see it for yourselves.

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