Alliteration is a figure of speech where the words that start with a similar sound are placed close together. The words are usually near each other, but are not right next to each other, in most cases. What results from this word placement is repetitive sound. You will find these sound devices used very commonly in poetry. You will also see this consistently used in advertising for jingles and slogans because the harmonic use of words makes it easy to remember. Skilled authors will often use this literary device to draw attention to a certain subject or aspect of a sentence. You will find that the names of many fictional characters exhibit this as well. Beginning writers are often given the advice "Always avoid annoying alliteration," but it, along with the related tools of assonance and consonance, can be a powerful tool to help set the mood and rhythms of your stories and (especially) poetry.
These worksheets will have students identifying and creating alliteration in practice sentences using prompts, excerpts from literature, and given words and phrases. Answer keys have been provided when necessary. Project idea: Have your students try to write an original tongue twister to practice constructing alliterative sentences. Give awards for most difficult, funniest, etc.
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Alliteration creates a musical effect that makes reading more pleasurable. It calls the readers attention to certain phrases, and the writer or poet can use this to make a strong point, or to connote meaning to the reader.
You will need to have some works available for students to examine here.
What Is Alliteration?
"She sells seashells by the seashore."
The above alliteration is a tongue twister that most kids play with. Alliterations are literary sound devices that provide rhythm to a thought or phrase. Poets, songwriters, playwrights, screenwriters, and even marketing strategists use literary strategy to make their content eye-catchy and leave a mark on the audience while emphasizing important aspects or critical points.
Examples of alliteration are abundantly found in literature and poetry, brand names like Coca-Cola, in names of people and characters such as Mickey Mouse, or even in everyday speech such as saying the phrase 'quick question.'
If a phrase or a sentence has words starting with the same sounding consonant, which are placed close to one another, it becomes an alliteration. Unlike rhyming words with matching sounds at the end of the words, this technique uses a rhyming scheme that starts the words. You will find this technique used in poetry more often than in other types of writing.
Assonance vs. Consonance vs. Alliteration
Alliteration is often confused and mixed up with the literary techniques of both assonance and consonance. Here we break all three down to clear out any confusion and make distinctions between each:
There is a repetition of vowels
This has the repetition of consonants
The repetition of consonants classifies this.
There are no specific positions or rhyming rules.
It can be repeated anywhere.
Consonance also has no specific positioning. The consonants can end with the same sound, be in the middle or start with the same sound. It has a fixed position at the start of the words in the sentence.
Go over the bridge.
Going against the gangs.
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Examples of Alliteration
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before; But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token, And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
Here Edgar uses the consonant 'D' to create an alliteration.
Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
"The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, The furrow followed free; We were the first that ever burst Into that silent sea."
Here are multiple consonants 'F,' 'B,' and 'S' used to create alliterations, and all of them are consciously embedded in the rhyming pattern.
Autumn Song by W. H. Auden
"Now the leaves are falling fast, Nurse's flowers will not last, Nurses to their graves are gone, But the prams go rolling on."
In the poem above, the repetition of the 'f' consonant in 'falling fast' and 'g' consonant in 'graves are gone' are alliterations that add melody and rhythm.
"Let it be" by The Beatles
"Whisper words of wisdom, let it be."
It is no surprise that The Beatles had ultimate mastery over their art, and by using the words 'whisper words of wisdom', they aimed to add melody to their song, making it memorable.
President Barack Obama's speech
". . . They are part of the finest fighting force that the world has ever known. They have served tour after tour of duty in distant, different, and difficult places . . ."
'Finest fighting force' and 'duty in distant, different and difficult places' are two phrases containing alliterations that have been used to add focus to the speech.
Alliteration is a fun technique in which writers have some leverage to relax the rules. It allows people to be creative in their songs, poetry, fiction, or even marketing strategies by aiding this form of expression.