Consonance vs assonance

  • The literary terms consonance and assonance are literary devices. A literary device is a tool used by speakers and writers in order to produce a certain effect by manipulating words and using them in unique and unexpected ways in poetry, prose, narrative articles, and essays concerning philosophy. Literary devices and literary techniques that are often used include synecdoche, understatement, rhyming words including internal rhyme, end rhyme and slant rhyme, parallelism, hyperbole, allusion, figurative language, alliteration, personification, onomatopoeia, oxymoron, metonymy, dramatic irony, sarcasm, satire, litotes and other poetic devices. Poems and prose are enhanced by the skillful use of these literary elements. We will examine the definitions of consonance and assonance, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.


    Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in quick succession in a phrase or sentence. Consonance is often found in tongue twisters, including the well-known: “She sells seashells by the seashore.” In this tongue twister, the sounds sh and s are repeated in quick succession. Alliteration is a type of consonance, but involves the repetition of only the initial or stressed sounds in the phrase or sentence. Consonance is used to evoke an emotion or to relay the importance of a passage. It is usually found in poetry. Writers often delete unintended consonance from their prose, as it may be a distraction. The word consonance is derived from the Latin word
    consonantia, which means agreement. Consonance is also used in everyday language to mean in agreement or compatible.


    Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in quick succession in a phrase or sentence. For example, “Light my fire.” Notice that assonance refers to the sound of the vowels i and y. Assonance is most often used to evoke an emotion in the reader or listener, as words that are vowel-heavy impart a gentler, more musical quality to the work. The word assonance is derived from the Latin word assonantem, which means to resound.


    Through attention to rhythm, and through devices such as rhyme, alliteration, consonance and dissonance (these two latter terms also describe harmonic functions within music), the poet produces an array of sensory effects. (The Monthly)

    Go through it first and enjoy the sounds, the rhythm, then read it again and find the hidden assonance and consonance. (The Huffington Post)

    The institutions within the State structure ought to have their constitutionally endorsed space to interact with one another, providing the community governance in consonance with public aspirations. (The Daily Star)

    Assonance is also found in proverbs: “cat out of the bag” and a “stitch in time, saves nine” being two of many examples. (Forbes Magazine)

    They made collages after slicing up dozens of “sources,” identifying the adjectives and adverbs, utilizing parallel structure, alliteration, assonance, and other figures of speech. (The Atlantic)

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