Types of rhyme

There are many types of rhyme: a rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds (usually, the exact same phonemes) in the final stressed syllables and any following syllables of two or more words. Rhymes are great mnemonics in part because they’re closely connected to songs and often include catchy wording that’s easy to recall. Teaching your student common rhyming mnemonics can help them remember key facts that will be useful throughout their education. J.R.R. Tolkien regarded himself ‘chiefly as a poet’ (Carpenter, The Inklings, p. 29) and the importance of poetic diction and its most potent form, song, provides a powerful leitmotif to his mythological universe.

book on wooden surface near a candlelight. Types of rhyme
Photo by Vincent M.A. Janssen on Pexels.com

To add musicality to our writing, be it prose, drama or poetry, repetition is key. The word sonnet in Middle English means ‘denoting a song or ballad’. The sense ‘poem of fourteen lines’ is partly from Italian sonetto, from Occitan sonet, diminutive of son ‘a sound’. Today a sonnet is a poem of fourteen lines using any of a number of formal rhyme schemes, in English typically having ten syllables per line. To read about other types of repetition techniques in literature click here!

Perfect and imperfect rhymes

There are two primal types of rhyme: there is the perfect rhyme, and there are a numerous types of imperfect rhyme. Sub-types usually refer to where the rhyme is within the phase.

Perfect end rhyme

A perfect rhyme—also sometimes referred to as a true rhyme, exact rhyme, or full rhyme—is a type of rhyme in which the stressed vowel sounds in both words are identical, as are any sounds thereafter.

Examples of perfect rhyme are: well, sell; chase, face; saw, flaw; form, dorm.

Love is like spring/ It often comes with a ring

Slant rhyme

Imperfect rhyme is also sometimes known as a slant rhyme or close rhyme. These terms suggest that two words are similar to one another but are not perfect rhymes.

We danced in the kitchen/ But he couldn’t keep up with my ambition

Professor Time has three kids: Month, Day, and Hour.

How you deal with the latter is how you spend your power.

The wicked, from peasants to kings,

Because of their sins, go to one of the nine rings.


Another name for slant rhyme. Madrigal. A short lyric, dating back to the Elizabethan Age, usually dealing with love or a pastoral theme. The sounds are not identical. Pararhyme is defined as “perfect consonance,” meaning that all the consonants in two or more words are the same, as in “leaves” and “loves.


Assonance involves using repeated vowel sounds in words that are close to each other. It is sometimes referred to as a slant rhyme. There are many examples of assonance in poetry. This technique is also common in literature and prose. The following word combinations illustrate assonance.

  • tip, slip and limp
  • that, spat and bat
  • bow, no and home

The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plains” from the movie, ‘My Fair Lady’ is a very good example of assonance.


Consonance involves repeating consonant sounds in words that are close together. There are many examples of consonance, including:

“She wears short skirts/ I wear t-shirts”


Alliteration or initial rhyme, head rhyme has the same initial consonant at the beginning of the words.

  • dump, dame and damp
  • meter, miter and metric
  • mile, mole and meal

“Whisper Words of Wisdom/ Let it be”

Rich Rhymes

This is a type of rhyme in which words are pronounced the same but with different meaning just like homonyms.

Internal rhyme

Internal rhyme is rhyme that occurs in the middle of lines of poetry, instead of at the ends of lines. A single line of poetry can contain internal rhyme (with multiple words in the same line rhyming), or the rhyming words can occur across multiple lines.

Hey, Jude don’t make it bad/ Take a sad song and make it better

Planet Earth gave birth

Internal Rhyme vs. End Rhyme

Internal rhyme is often described as being subtler than end rhyme. This subtlety occurs for two related reasons:

  • The last word of every line of poem is naturally emphasized: As noted just above in the discussion of internal rhyme and line breaks, end rhymes receive an automatic emphasis simply by virtue of appearing at the end of lines. Internal rhymes are less emphasized, and might not even be explicitly noticed even as they add to the musicality of a line.
  • In poetry with a meter, end rhymes are consistent while internal rhymes are not: When a poem has a meter, every line contains syllables according to a set pattern. That means that end rhymes appear at consistent places within that pattern. As a result, end rhymes offer a strong rhythmic feeling to the poem. Because internal rhymes can occur anywhere within a line (other than at the end), they often don’t appear as part of a consistent pattern. As a result, once again, even as they add musicality and rhythm to a line, they do so in a way that is harder to explicitly notice.

The subtlety of internal rhymes makes them a useful poetic tool for increasing the musicality of the language without being overtly “rhyme-y.” Some modern poets don’t use end rhymes at all, but will intersperse internal rhyme throughout a poem because it feels more nuanced and less obvious. Other poets use internal rhyme in addition to end rhyme—that is, they intersperse internal rhymes throughout a poem with an otherwise consistent use of end rhymes.

Types of Rhymes Used to Make Internal Rhymes

Most people, when they think about what constitutes a rhyme, are actually thinking about just one type of rhyme in particular: perfect rhyme. Perfect rhymes refer only to words with identical sounds like “game” and “tame,” or “table” and “fable.” But there are actually many different types of rhymes, and all of them can be used to create internal rhymes.

  • An example of internal pararhyme would be an internal rhyme in which all the consonants in two or more words are the same, as in “As the leaves fall I think of past loves.”
  • An example of internal semirhyme would be an internal rhyme in which two words share an identical sound but one of the words has an extra syllable at the end, as in “I spent a long time with her, / an avid climber of trees.”

Internal Rhyme Examples

Poe’s famous poem “The Raven” uses internal rhyme in addition to end rhyme. The examples of end rhyme (e.g., lore, door, more) are not highlighted. Internal rhyme is common in music, where not all the rhymes are always perfect. The use of internal rhyme in addition to end rhymes makes songs easier to remember so they get stuck in your head.

Shakespeare’s Macbeth

The song of the Weird Sisters in Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a classic and memorable example of internal rhyme.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches’ mummy; maw and gulf…

This famous song often rhymes a word at the end of one line with a word in the middle of the next line. This excerpt contains the first two stanzas of the song.

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

Hey Jude, don’t be afraid
You were made to go out and get her
The minute you let her under your skin
Then you begin to make it better

The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”

Why Do Writers Use Internal Rhyme?

Because it makes language sound more beautiful and thoughtfully-composed, like music. Internal rhymes can also help to increase the sense of rhythm of poetry, thus making it not only more pleasant to listen to but easier to both understand and memorize.

The use of perfect rhymes in general has fallen out of favor with many poets writing today. However, despite this trend the use of internal rhyme maintains some popularity, because it’s a more subtle form of rhyme that can increase the aesthetic quality of a poetic composition without making it sound overtly “rhyme-y.” Internal rhyme is particularly common in song lyrics, where it is usually used in conjunction with end rhyme to increase the number of rhymes that can be delivered in a single line, which has the effect of making songs easier to remember.

What are the two most common types of rhymes?

Internal rhyme is rhyme within a single line of verse, when a word from the middle of a line is rhymed with a word at the end of the line. Masculine rhyme describes those rhymes ending in a stressed syllable, such as “hells” and “bells.” It is the most common type of rhyme in English poetry.

Rhyme Schemes

A rhyme scheme is the ordered pattern of rhymes at the ends of the lines of a poem or verse. To see other types of poems click here!

Alternate rhyme

In an alternate rhyme, the first and third lines rhyme at the end, and the second and fourth lines rhyme at the end following the pattern ABAB for each stanza. This rhyme scheme is used for poems with four-line stanzas.

  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “A Psalm of Life”

Tell me not, in mournful numbers, Life is but an empty dream!— For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem.


A ballade is a lyric poem that follows the rhyme scheme ABABBCBC. Ballades typically have three, eight-line stanzas and conclude with a four-line stanza. The last line of each stanza is the same, which is called a refrain.

  • Andrew Lang, “Ballade of the Optimist”

And, sometimes on a summer’s day To self and every mortal ill We give the slip, we steal away, To walk beside some sedgy rill: The darkening years, the cares that kill, A little while are well forgot; When deep in broom upon the hill, We’d rather be alive than not.

Coupled rhyme

A coupled rhyme is a two-line stanza that rhymes following the rhyme scheme AA BB CC, or a similar dual rhyming scheme. The rhymes themselves are referred to as rhyming couplets. Shakespeare’s sonnets end with rhyming couplets, such as this one:

  • William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 18”

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


In a monorhyme, all the lines in a stanza or entire poem end with the same rhyme.

  • William Blake, “Silent, Silent Night”

Silent Silent Night Quench the holy light Of thy torches bright

For possess’d of Day Thousand spirits stray That sweet joys betray

Why should joys be sweet Used with deceit Nor with sorrows meet

But an honest joy Does itself destroy For a harlot coy

Enclosed rhyme

The first and fourth lines and the second and third lines rhyme with each other in an enclosed rhyme scheme. The pattern is ABBA, in which A encloses the B.

Sonnet VII

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth, Stol’n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year! My hasting days fly on with full career, But my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th.

By John Milton

Simple four-line rhyme

These poems follow a rhyme scheme of ABCB throughout the entire poem.

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (excerpt)

It is an ancient Mariner, And he stoppeth one of three. ‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye, Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?


A triplet is a set of three lines in a stanza—called a tercet—that share the same end rhyme.

  • William Shakespeare, “The Phoenix and the Turtle”

Truth may seem, but cannot be Beauty brag, but ’tis not she Truth and beauty buried be

Terza rima

An Italian form of poetry that consists of tercets, a terza rima follows a chain rhyme in which the second line of each stanza rhymes with the first and last line of the subsequent stanza. It ends with a couplet rhyming with the middle line of the penultimate stanza. The pattern is ABA BCB CDC DED EE.

  • Percy Shelley, “Ode to the West Wind”

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being, Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red, Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou, Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low, Each like a corpse within its grave, until Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill (Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air) With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere; Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!


A limerick is a five-line poem with the rhyme scheme AABBA.

  • Mother Goose, “Hickory, Dickory, Dock”

Hickory dickory dock. The mouse ran up the clock. The clock struck one, And down he run. Hickory dickory dock.


A type of poem with five three-line stanzas that follow a rhyme scheme of ABA. The villanelle concludes with a four-line stanza with the pattern ABAA.

  • Edwin Arlington Robinson, “The House on the Hill” (excerpt)

THEY are all gone away, The House is shut and still, There is nothing more to say.

Through broken walls and gray The winds blow bleak and shrill:
They are all gone away.

Nor is there one to-day To speak them good or ill: There is nothing more to say.

Why is it then we stray Around that sunken sill? They are all gone away,

And our poor fancy-play For them is wasted skill: There is nothing more to say.

%d bloggers like this: