Understanding Assonance: Definition, Examples, and Usage
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 5 min read


  1. What is Assonance?
  2. How to identify Assonance
  3. Examples of Assonance
  4. How to use Assonance effectively
  5. Why Assonance matters in literature

Have you ever read a poem, a song lyric or a piece of prose, and noticed a certain melody to it, a rhythm that made the words flow smoothly? That's often due to a literary technique called assonance. In this blog, we're going to explore the definition of assonance, how you can spot it, examples of it, and why it's such a vital tool in literature.

What is Assonance?

Let's start by understanding the basic definition of assonance. Assonance is a literary device where the same vowel sounds are repeated in a line or passage of text, but with different ending consonants. This creates a sort of musical effect that can give language a pleasing rhythm. It's a subtle technique, but it can add a lot to a piece of writing.

Assonance and Poetry

Assonance is often found in poetry. The repeated vowel sounds can help create a flow in the poem, making it more enjoyable to read or listen to. Here's an example:

"Do you like blue? True blue, through and through?"

In this example, the 'oo' sound is repeated, which gives the line a rhythmic quality. This type of repetition is exactly what we mean when we talk about assonance.

Assonance and Prose

But assonance isn't just for poetry — it's also used in prose, like novels and short stories. Here, the aim is often to create a particular mood or atmosphere. Let's look at an example:

"The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain."

In this sentence, the 'ai' sound is repeated. This creates a sort of musical rhythm, and it also ties the sentence together, making it feel more cohesive.

Assonance and Songs

Finally, you'll also find assonance in songs. Songwriters use assonance to make their lyrics more catchy and memorable. Here's an example from the Beatles:

"In the town where I was born, lived a man who sailed to sea."

Here, the 'o' sound is repeated in 'born', 'who', and 'to'. This repetition makes the line more melodious, and helps to stick in your mind.

So, that's a quick exploration of the definition of assonance, and how it's used in different types of writing. Next, we'll look at how you can identify assonance in a text.

How to identify Assonance

Now that we know the definition of assonance, let's dive into how to spot it in the wild. Identifying assonance can be a little tricky at first, but with some practice, you'll be able to pick it out with ease.

Listen to the Sound

Remember, assonance is all about vowel sounds. So, the first step to identifying assonance is to really listen to the words. Read the text out loud, or in your head, and pay attention to the sounds of the vowels. Do you notice any that are repeated?

Look at the Spelling

Assonance doesn't always depend on the spelling of words. Two words can have completely different spellings but produce the same vowel sound. For example, 'sea' and 'be' are different in spelling, but share the same 'ee' sound. That's assonance!

Check the Consonants

Lastly, make sure the repeated vowel sounds are not followed by the same consonant sounds. If they are, that's not assonance — it's rhyme. For example, 'cat' and 'bat' rhyme, they don't create assonance. But 'cat' and 'dad' do, because they share the same 'a' sound with different ending consonants.

So, there you have it! By listening to the sound, looking at the spelling, and checking the consonants, you can start to identify assonance in any piece of text. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don't worry if you don't get it right away. Keep trying, and soon you'll be spotting assonance wherever you go!

Examples of Assonance

Seeing the definition of assonance in action can make it easier to understand. Let's dive into some examples that will help illustrate this beautiful literary device.

Assonance in Poetry

Poetry often uses assonance to create a lyrical, musical effect. Take this line from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner": "The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew."

  • The 'air' sound in 'fair' and 'breeze' and the 'oo' sound in 'blew' and 'flew' are examples of assonance.

Assonance in Prose

Prose writers also use assonance to add rhythm and flow to their sentences. Consider this line from F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby": "In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."

  • The repeated 'i' sound in 'whisperings' and 'champagne' and the 'a' sound in 'gardens' and 'stars' are both examples of assonance.

Assonance in Music

Music, especially song lyrics, frequently uses assonance. Consider these lines from The Beatles' "Let It Be": "And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer, let it be."

  • The 'ee' sound in 'people', 'agree', 'be', and 'let it be' is a clear example of assonance.

These examples show that assonance is everywhere — in poetry, prose, and music. Noticing it can enrich your understanding of language and enhance your appreciation for the art of words.

How to use Assonance effectively

Now that we've seen some examples, let's talk about how you can use assonance to make your own writing more engaging and musical.

Choose the Right Sounds

The first step in using assonance effectively is choosing the right sounds to repeat. These should be sounds that fit the mood or tone of your piece. For instance:

  • If you're writing a cheerful, upbeat piece, you might choose to repeat light, high vowel sounds, like 'ee' or 'i'.
  • If you're writing a dark, serious piece, you might choose to repeat deeper, more somber vowel sounds, like 'o' or 'u'.

Don't Overdo It

Just like with any other literary device, it's important not to overuse assonance. Too much can make your writing seem overdone or forced. Aim for a balance.

Use it for Emphasis

Assonance can be a great way to emphasize important points in your writing. By repeating vowel sounds in key phrases, you can make those phrases stand out and stick in the reader's mind.

Assonance can be a powerful tool in your writing toolbox. Used well, it can add a level of depth and beauty to your work that sets it apart. So, don't be afraid to experiment with it in your own writing!

Why Assonance matters in literature

So, we've understood the definition of assonance and its usage. But why does it matter in literature? Why do writers go out of their way to include this poetic device in their works?

Creates a Musical Effect

One of the main reasons is that assonance can create a musical effect in written text. This musicality can make a piece more enjoyable to read or listen to. It's like adding a catchy tune to your words. It's why nursery rhymes and songs often use assonance — to make them more memorable and fun!

Reinforces Meaning

But assonance doesn't just make writing sound good — it can also reinforce meaning. By repeating sounds, a writer can emphasize important themes or ideas in their work. This can make a piece of writing more resonant and impactful.

Enhances Mood and Tone

Finally, the specific sounds repeated through assonance can help set the mood or tone of a piece. Bright, sharp vowel sounds can create an uplifting tone, while deep, rounded vowel sounds can create a more somber or serious tone. In this way, assonance can help a writer convey not just what they're saying, but how they're saying it.

In short, assonance matters in literature because it adds richness and depth to writing. It's a tool that writers use to make their work more engaging, meaningful, and expressive. So next time you read a book or poem, keep an eye out for assonance — and appreciate the skill that went into crafting it!

If you enjoyed this blog post on assonance and want to explore more ways to enhance your storytelling through creative techniques, you might find the workshop 'Indie Film Composing: Storytelling In Music' by Daisy Coole relevant. Though focused on music and film composing, the workshop delves into the power of storytelling, which can be applied to various creative fields, including writing and poetry. Broaden your creative horizons by learning how to tell captivating stories through different mediums.