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Definition and structure
Assonance (pronounced as asənəns) is a literary device used by writers to repeat a vowel sound in a line of text or poetry. Derived from the Latin phrase assonare, which means to answer with the same sound, this useful poetic tool creates rhythm and sound of the literary piece, adding meaning, tone or mood into it. The technique is to use words that are close enough together so that the repetition is noticeable.
Here is a fun example from Dr. Seuss’ West Beast East Beast:
Upon an island hard to reach,
The East Beast sits upon his beach.
Upon the west beach sits the West Beast.
Each beach beast thinks he’s the best beast.
Notice the assonance taking place when two or more words that are close to one another repeat the same vowel sound but start with different consonant sounds, i.e. reach, east, beast, beach, west, each, and best.
Assonance may be difficult to spot sometimes as they are subtle and can be structured subconsciously. The technique is to spot the long vowel sounds, which indicate a slowing down of the energy level and development of a melancholic effect, and the high vowel sounds, which mean there is an increase in the energy level and an expression of delight.
Like alliteration, which is the repetition of same beginning consonant sound, assonance is used to enhance the tone or mood of a text. These two poetic devices are commonly combined to form tongue twisters. The secret formula is to combine an alliteration with two different forms of assonance, making the combination truly challenging to the tongue reflexes, e.g. Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Assonance is the opposite of consonance in that it centers on vowel sounds, whereas the latter refers to repetitive usage of consonant sounds.
Purpose of Assonance
The primary purpose of assonance is to reinforce the meanings of words or phrases or to set the mood. When used appropriately with alliteration and consonance, assonance serves as one of the main components of verse. In fact, this literary device is widely found in English verse as well as in poetry and prose and makes a vital component in foreign languages such as Old French, Spanish and the Celtic languages.
Writers use assonance to produce internal rhyming and musicality within phrases or sentences. This significantly enhances the musical effect in the text, hence enhancing the pleasure of reading a literary work. It also allows the author to develop his/her desired mood based on the subject matter or flow of the story or literary piece.
Aside from literary works, assonance is also widely employed in pop culture, specifically in song lyrics. It can also be used in everyday conversations, although not many people use it deliberately, unless trying to impress a crowd or invoke romance the old-fashioned way.
Terms Related to Assonance
Assonance should not be confused with its related terms, as follows:
- Consonance – It refers to the repetition of the same consonant sounds.
- The lint was sent with the tent.
- Alliteration – It is a leveled-up case of consonance and occurs when a beginning consonant sound is repeated over and over in a poem or text.
- Sally sells seashells by the sea shore..
- Sibilance – Also a special case of consonance, it repeats the sibilant sounds “s” or “sh.”
- There was Shield Sheafson, scourge of many tribes. (Beowulf, Seamus Heaney)
- Slant or half rhyme – It refers to the repetition of sounds that are similar but not necessarily rhyming. In this case, the consonant sounds are repeated but the vowel sounds are different, or vice versa. It can be either consonance or assonance or a combination and is common in pop culture.
- We broke our backs stacking bricks / We never broke our promises. (Little Mercy, Doomtree)
This bundle contains 5 ready-to-use assonance worksheets that are perfect to test student knowledge and understanding of what assonance is and how it can be used. You can use these assonance worksheets in the classroom with students, or with home schooled children as well.
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Link will appear as Assonance Examples and Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 22, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.