English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am writing a narrative essay and I am currently working on the final touches. Right now I am focusing my attention on the title. The essay is a look back on a couple days, several years ago that a friend and I were nearly killed in a motorcycle accident. I am considering the use of retrospective in my title but not sure if I am using it properly.

"A retrospective flash back that nearly killed me and a friend"

"Retrospect on a week that a friend and I nearly died"

None of these sound right to me.

share|improve this question
The first isn't right because it wasn't the flashback that nearly killed you. It was the accident. And I think that the typical use of "retrospective" in titles is along the lines of "Performing the stunt that almost killed us: A Retrospective" or "A Retrospective look at the stunt that almost killed us." – Jim Feb 8 '14 at 4:59
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I'd say that "a retrospective flash back" is redundant -- a "flash back" already implies retrospection.

"Retrospect on a week that a friend and I nearly died" sounds better, and I think it could potentially be valid, but that use of "retrospect" would at least be somewhat non-standard. I would reformulate it as "A week that a friend and I nearly died, in retrospect". (Whether or not to include the comma is probably a matter of taste.)

However, the connotation of the latter would be that you now look back at the event and consider things that weren't obvious at the time or shortly thereafter; not that you merely recount the story.

share|improve this answer

"A retrospective flash back that nearly killed me and a friend" is wrong, unless you mean that you were nearly killed by a "retrospective flash back" (meaning your essay?).

share|improve this answer
I decided on going with "The worst week of my life in retrospect". The assignment was not that bad to almost kill me it was quite fun actually :) – Yamaha32088 Feb 8 '14 at 4:56

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.