What is the difference between assonance and rhyme? What are some examples of each?

1 Answer
Nov 30, 2016

Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds only in words, whereas rhyme is the repetition of the ending sounds of words.


Assonance and rhyme are two poetic devices that involve the repetition of certain sounds across multiple words to link words or lines together and, used correctly, to give the poem (or other form of writing, sometimes) a particular rhythm when read.

Assonance is repetition in vowel sounds in words in one or more lines, such as in the sentence "Joe groans so he won't go home alone." The long "o" sound is repeated in that sentence, creating assonance.

Rhyme is the exact repetition of the vowels and consonants, typically at the ends of words, with different beginning consonant sounds. This can happen for multiple words within a line or multiple lines, or only at the ends of lines. Quick example: "In time, the lime turns to slime." See how the endings, both the consonant and vowel parts, are the same in time, lime, and slime? On the other hand, the consonants that went with the "o" sounds in the assonance example do not really matter. Both are used for the purpose of giving writing a certain rhythm and pattern when read aloud.

There are several specific rhyming patterns that are used for different types of poems and to create different patterns of rhythm and linkage between words. Some types of poetry even depend on their rhyme schemes, such as sonnets and limericks, and it is imperative that such poems follow their respective rhyme schemes.

Naturally, the example sentences have been deliberately written to be really obvious in order to clearly demonstrate the idea. When reading and analyzing poetry, try to hear how the words work together to convey a certain sound, flow, and feeling, and to understand what poetic devices make them do this. Assonance and rhyme are two tools in the writer's toolbox to make poetry more than random short lines of words.