How to ... Identify an Assonance

when you come across one in literature

Welcome, book enthusiasts! Are you eager to expand your knowledge of literary devices? Today, we're stepping into the captivating world of assonance, where every exploration brings new discoveries and delights. Often overlooked, assonance plays a significant role in enhancing the beauty and depth of written works. Join us as we explore what assonance is, where it comes from, how to spot it, and why it matters in English literature.


Assonance is a figure of speech where similar vowel sounds are repeated in nearby words or stressed syllables. It's like a musical melody in a piece of writing. For example, in the phrase "The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain," the repeated "a" sound in "rain," "Spain," "stays," "mainly," and "plain" creates a soothing and harmonious effect. The phonetic representation of the long "a" sound can be denoted as /eɪ/.


The word "assonance" originates from the Latin word "assonare," meaning "to sound together." It emphasizes the importance of creating pleasing sounds in writing. Writers use assonance to add rhythm and melody to their works, making them more enjoyable to read or listen to.

Features and examples

To identify assonance, pay attention to words with similar vowel sounds close together. They don't have to be the same words, just similar vocalic sounds repeating. For instance, in the line "The best a man can get,"(1) the repeated short "e" sound in "best" and "get" creates an instance of assonance, represented phonetically as /ɛ/. Another example comes from the film "My Fair Lady"(2): "The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain."

  1. from a famous advertising slogan used by the company Gillette to promote their razors and shaving products. It has been widely recognized as one of the most successful and enduring advertising slogans in history.
  2. a famous line from the musical "My Fair Lady," which was adapted from George Bernard Shaw's play "Pygmalion." The line is part of the song "The Rain in Spain," where Professor Henry Higgins teaches Eliza Doolittle how to pronounce words properly.

Assonance adds beauty, rhythm, and emotion to writing. It helps create mood and atmosphere, making a piece of literature more engaging and memorable. In poetry, assonance can evoke different feelings depending on the sounds used, enriching the reader's experience.

Ready to practice? Look for words with similar vowel sounds close together in your favorite poems or stories. Circle or underline them and pay attention to how they enhance the writing. With practice, you'll become more skilled at recognizing assonance in literature.

Now you know the secrets of assonance! It's a subtle yet powerful tool that writers use to create beauty and depth in their works. Keep exploring the world of literature, and you'll discover even more treasures hidden within its pages. Happy reading!

Vocabulary List

  • Assonance: a figure of speech where similar vowel sounds are repeated in nearby words or stressed syllables.
  • Melody: a pleasing arrangement of sounds, like music.
  • Harmonious: having a pleasing arrangement of parts, like sounds in writing.
  • Phonetic: relating to the sounds of speech, represented by symbols.
  • Rhythm: a regular pattern of beats or stresses in language.
  • Atmosphere: the mood or feeling created in a piece of writing.
  • Enriching: making something more meaningful or valuable.
  • Spotting: identifying or noticing something.
  • Denoted: indicated or represented by a symbol or word.
  • Engaging: capturing and holding attention, interesting.
  • Treasure: something valuable or highly prized.
  • Enhance: to improve or make better.
  • Evoke: to bring forth or call to mind.
  • Serene: calm, peaceful.
  • Subtle: not obvious, delicate or nuanced.

Spotting Assonance in Literature:

Assonance can add a beautiful musical quality to writing, but how can you identify it? Follow these steps, and you'll become a pro at recognizing assonance in no time!

You'll need:

  • A piece of literature to analyze
  • A keen ear for vowel sounds
  • Some patience and practice


  • Read through the text carefully, paying close attention to the sounds of words.
  • Look for words with similar vowel sounds close together. They might not be the same words, but they'll have repeating vowel sounds.
  • Circle or underline these words as you find them. This will help you keep track of them.
  • Read the words you've marked aloud to yourself. Listen for the repeating vowel sounds and notice how they create a musical effect.
  • Look for patterns in the repetition of sounds. Do the words have similar vowel sounds, even if they're spelled differently?
  • If you find repeated vowel sounds in two or more words in close proximity, you've spotted assonance!
  • Write down the instances of assonance and the words that make it up. This will help you remember and refer to them later.
  • Keep practicing! The more you practice spotting assonance, the easier it will become.


  • Pay attention to the context of the words you find. Sometimes, assonance is used to create a specific mood or tone in a text.
  • Assonance can be subtle, so don't worry if it takes some time to find it.
  • Don't limit yourself to just the beginning of words. Assonance can also occur in the middle or end of words.
  • Use online resources and tools to help you identify assonance in texts, if needed.
  • Most importantly, have fun exploring the beauty of assonance in literature!