Consonance vs Alliteration

Consonance. This is the repetition of identical or similar consonant sounds that are placed closely together in a word, sentence, or phrase. Consonance may be appearing at any position within words and are often appearing at the end.

Alliteration. This is the repetitive use of the first letter in words.

Consonance is most often used poetry and can serve any or all of the following purposes:

  • Give a rhyming effect without rhyme
  • Reiterate the significance of an idea or theme
  • Appeal to the reader with a sound
  • Underscore emotion that words alone cannot convey
  • Give a lyrical feeling the poem
  • Make imagery clearer

Examples of  Consonance

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.—John F. Kennedy

I have this dream that 1 day on the red Georgia hills, the sons of former slaves as well as the sons of former slave owners can sit down together at the great table of brotherhood. —free to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Alliteration

Alliteration is when first consonant sounds are repeatedly used.  The sentence “The detectives determined what doctor committed this cruel crime” contains elements of alliteration since the “d” and a hard “c” are repeated in the sentence.

Writers use alliteration to write better descriptions and to give a sense of sound and rhythm to their stories and poems. You can become a better writer, too, when you know how to use alliteration to describe people, places, things, and events.

Examples of Alliteration

Forgive me, but I fear that I’m being framed!

Why would someone walk all the way over there?

Whenever you try to identify how an author is using alliteration, it’s good to start out by reading the entire sentence aloud. It is your goal to discover several words that start with identical consonant sounds.

Keep in remind that not the entire sentence needs to follow this specific technique; if there are only two words, that’ll work as well. Remember as well that sometimes, different letters may produce identical sounds!

Another term is Assonance. Assonance is when vowel sounds are used repeatedly and close together, generally between various consonants, and usually in poetry lines. Sometimes, assonance is also referred to as “vowel rhyme.” Consonance is when similar consonant sounds are repeatedly used close together within a phrase, word, or sentence.

Next Lesson: What is Text Evidence