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Rhymes

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English

A rhyme is when two words sound alike , for example, 'blue' sounds like 'blew'. Even though the spelling is different, the sound is the same.

'Blue' or 'blew' can also rhyme with 'shoe' and 'too': the initial sounds of these words are different (ie 'sh' and 't'), but the ending sounds the same.

Rhyming can add musicality to text, and it can also make a text more memorable . We can find rhymes in poetry , children's nursery rhymes , and songs . These are often divided into sections that contain several consecutive lines that rhyme, which we call verses .

Let's take a look at some more rhyming words:

True - through - crew

Need - lead - knead

Knot - not - dot

Shine - line - mine

Even though these words open with different consonants, the last parts sound the same, such as in 't r ue ', 'th rough ', and 'c rew '.

Can you think of any other words that rhyme?

It is not definitely known when rhyming was first used; very possibly it has been around since human speech began. The earliest written rhymes in English can be found dating back to the 7th century in a 'Hymn' by the Anglo-Saxon poet Caedmon.

Types of Rhyme

There are several types of rhyme including: perfect rhyme, imperfect rhyme, end rhyme, feminine rhyme, masculine rhyme, eye rhyme, pararhyme, monorhyme, monosyllabic rhyme, multisyllabic rhyme and dactylic rhyme.

The three most common types of rhyme, and the types that we will concentrate on in this article, are:

  • Perfect rhyme

  • Imperfect rhyme

  • End rhyme

Perfect or full rhyme

Perfect rhyme is when two words share the same vowel sound in the final syllable and have identical final consonants .

  • The words 'fleet' and 'treat' rhyme perfectly because the vowel sounds 'ee' and 'ea' sound identical, and both words end with the consonant 't'.
  • The words 'brought' and 'thought' also match perfectly because the vowel sounds 'ough' in each word sound the same, and both words end with the consonant 't'.

There are many words that rhyme in this way. Can you think of more?

Perfectly rhyming words can also have more than one syllable.

' Dou ble' and ' trou ble'

' A ble' and ' ta ble'

' Flower' and ' po who'

' Rea sonable' and ' sea sonable'

Shakespeare often uses perfect rhyme in his plays and sometimes entire speeches are written in perfect rhyme. We can see this in the speech below:

ADRIANA:

Patience unmoved! no marvel though she pause;

They can be meek that have no other cause.

A wretched soul, bruised with adversity,

We bid be quiet when we hear it cry;

But were we burdened with like weight of pain,

As much or more would we ourselves complain:

So thou, that hast no unkind mate to grieve thee,

With urging helpless patience wouldst relieve me,

But, if thou live to see like right bereft,

This fool-begg'd patience in thee will be left.

(Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors, 1589–94)

At some time in the past, some words may have rhymed perfectly (eg, 'adversity' and 'cry') but over time the pronunciation has changed so they cease to rhyme in modern pronunciation. These are called historical rhymes .

Imperfect or Half Rhyme

In this kind of rhyme, the rhyming words do not sound identical ; they only sound 'half' similar (hence half-rhyme).

In the first verse of Emily Dickinson's 'Hope', for example, the words 'soul' and 'all' are not an exact match, and are only vaguely similar in sound:

"Hope" is the thing with feathers -

That perches in the soul -

And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops - at all -

(Emily Dickinson, 'Hope', 1891)

In another one of Dickinson's poems, 'Because I could not stop for Death', the words 'day' and 'eternity' each end in a 'y' but share little else, relying on rhythm instead (Hint: trying reading the lines aloud ):

Try reading the lines aloud to hear the half-rhymes in the poem.

Since then - 'tis Centuries - and yet

Feels shorter than the day

I first surmised the Horses' Heads

Were toward Eternity - '

(Emily Dickinson, 'Because I could not stop for Death', 1890)

End rhyme

End rhymes are the most frequently used rhyme and occur when phrases end in rhyming syllables .

We can see examples of end rhymes in TS Eliot's poem 'Macavity the Mystery Cat'. Can you identify where the rhyming words are?:

Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw—

For he's the master criminal who can defy the law.

He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:

For when they reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!

(TS Eliot, 'Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats', 1939)

' Paw ' in the first line rhymes with 'l aw ' in the second line, and ' despair ' rhymes with '( not) there '.

Because these rhymes fall at the end of each line, we call them end rhymes.

Shakespeare often used end rhymes to show the audience that a scene was coming to an end.

Nursery rhymes

Rhyming is a helpful tool for memorizing words , which is possibly why rhyming has traditionally been used in songs and riddles for children.

Nursery rhymes have been handed down through oral tradition and often have historical or political origins . The following rhyme, for example, is believed to commemorate the bubonic plague, otherwise known as the 'Black Death', and its symptoms:

A ring a ring of roses

A pocket full of posies

Atishoo Atishoo

All fall down! '

(Anon)

The first line 'a ring of roses' describes the circular rash that would appear on the victim's skin. In the second line 'posies' refers to a mix of herbs and flowers which were carried by people to protect themselves from catching the plague. 'Atishoo!' refers to the final symptom of sneezing, and the last line 'all fall down' means 'we all fall down - dead!'

Other rhymes were more satirical, as in ' Georgy Porgy ' which is thought to refer to George IV:

Georgy Porgy pudding and pie

Kissed the girls and made them cry

When the boys came out to play

Georgy Porgy ran away. '

(Anon)

' Georgy ', or Prince Regent (later George IV), was keen on food and women; the line 'when the boys came out to play' might be referring to the women's husbands retaliating - at which point George, who was noted for his cowardice, would withdraw.

Poets not only rely on rhyming when writing poetry, t hey also rely on structure, or rhyme scheme , to help them build or 'sculpt' their works on paper. Let's explore what rhyme schemes are and then take a closer look a few specific types of rhyme scheme: r hyming couplets , a lternate rhymes , and the sonnet .

Rhyme Schemes

Rhyme schemes are patterns of rhyme used when writing a poem . When describing the pattern we use letters of the alphabet:

Georgy Porgy pudding and pie A.

Kissed the girls and made them cry A.

When the boys came out to play B.

Georgy Porgy ran away. B.

Because 'pie' and 'cry' rhyme in the first two lines, these lines are marked 'A'.

Because 'play' and 'away' rhyme in the second two lines, these lines are marked 'B'.

The letters mark the rhyme scheme of the poem. So, in this example, we can see that 'Georgy Porgy' has an AABB rhyme scheme. This is just one example of a rhyme scheme - there are many different possible combinations!

Rhyming couplets

Let's take another look at TS Eliot's 'Macavity' and see which lines rhyme:

Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw—

For he's the master criminal who can defy the law.

He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:

For when they reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!

'Macavity' has lines that rhyme in pairs, such as 'paw' and 'law', 'despair' and '(not) there'. We call these rhyming couplets . So, just like in the previous example of 'Georgy Porgy', 'Macavity' has an AABB rhyme scheme which means that it is made up of pairs of lines that rhyme and usually share the same rhythm.

Typically, rhyming lines in couplets will also be similar in length. T ry counting the syllables in each line of 'Macavity'. Are they the same? Now read it aloud and listen to the rhythm.

Alternate rhyme

Another typical rhyme scheme is ABAB . This means the first line will rhyme with the third, and the second line will rhyme with the fourth. This is also called alternate rhyme and can be seen in poems with verses of 4 lines (called stanzas).

Take a look at the rhyming words in this section of 'The Song of the Jellicles' by TS Eliot.

Jellicle Cats have cheerful faces,

Jellicle Cats have bright black eyes;

They like to practice their airs and graces

And wait for the Jellicle Moon to rise.

'Faces' in line 1 rhymes with 'graces' from line 2 (so we have A _ A _).

'Eyes' from line 3 matches 'rise' from line 4 (so we have _B_B).

If we combine these together, we can see that the poem has the rhyme scheme ABAB.

The sonnet

A sonnet is a poem of 14 lines with a varying rhythm scheme ; originally Italian, it was introduced into England in the 16th century and has remained a popular poetic form ever since.

The English or Shakespearean sonnet has three 4-line stanzas, each line containing ten syllables, and finishes with a couplet. The rhyme scheme, therefore, is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG .

Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets using this scheme. In 'Sonnet 12' (1609), the speaker observes the passing of time and ends with a couplet advising to cheat death by having children and, thereby, living on through them.

'When I do count the clock that tells the time, A.

And see the brave day sunk in hideous night; B.

When I behold the violet past prime, A.

And sable curls, all silvered o'er with white; B.

When lofty trees I see barren of leaves, C

Which only from heat did canopy the stove, D

And summer's green all girded up in sheaves, C.

Borne on the beer with white and bristly beard, D

Then of thy beauty do I question make, E.

That thou among the wastes of time must go, F.

Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake E.

And die as fast as they see others grow; F.

And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make defense G

Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence. ' G

Have you ever tried writing a sonnet? How would you write about the topic of time? Is time something to be afraid of, or to embrace?

Rhyme is not everyone's favorite (some poets avoid it altogether!), But many use it for its capacity to add harmony and impact to their work, thereby enriching the reader's experience and understanding.

Rhymes - Key takeaways

  • A rhyme is when two words sound alike.
  • Rhyming can make it easier to remember things and adds musicality to text.
  • The three most common types of rhyme are: Perfect rhyme, Imperfect rhyme and End rhyme.
  • The perfect rhyme is when two words share the same vowel sound in the final syllable and the final consonants of the two words are identical.
  • The imperfect rhyme is when the rhyming words do not sound identical; they only sound 'half' similar.
  • End rhymes happen when the phrases end in rhyming syllables. Types of Rhyme

Rhymes

Perfect, Imperfect and End rhyme

An imperfect rhyme is where the rhyming words do not sound identical.

Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw—

For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.

Final Rhymes Quiz

Question

What does masculine rhyme do?

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Answer

Places stress on the final syllable of a rhyme.

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Question

Masculine rhyme is the most common form of rhyme in the English language.

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Answer

True

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Question

Masculine rhyme is always used to portray a tough, macho character.


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Answer

False

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Question

I tripped and fell and bumped my head

And had to lay all day in bed


This is an example of masculine rhyme. 

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Answer

True

Show question

Question

Come and gather round the table

Let me tell you all a fable


This is an example of masculine rhyme.

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Answer

False

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Question

The ghastly beast rose up and roared

I braced myself, and grasped my sword


This is an example of masculine rhyme. 

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Answer

True

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Question

What knowledge should we all be gleaning?

What’s the point, and what’s the meaning?


This is an example of masculine rhyme.

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Answer

False

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Question

The phrase, ‘nearest and dearest’ is an example of masculine rhyme.


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Answer

False

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Question

The phrase, ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’ is an example of masculine rhyme. 


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Answer

True

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Question

Which of the following is an example of masculine rhyme?


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Answer

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight.

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Question

Masculine rhyme is never used by female poets.


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Answer

False

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Question

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?”


Which of the following are the masculine rhymes in this extract from Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven’?

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Answer

‘Before’/‘Lenore’

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Question

Which language do the terms ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ (in relation to rhyme) come from?


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Answer

French

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Question

Which of the following Shakespeare couplets does NOT use masculine rhyme?


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Answer

But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure

Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure.

(‘Sonnet 20,’ 1590–1605)

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Question

Which of the following is an example of masculine rhyme?


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Answer

Revoke/joke

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Question

Which of the following best describes feminine rhyme?

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Answer

A rhyme that contains a stressed syllable followed by one or more unstressed syllables.

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Question

In a feminine rhyme, the stress is on the first syllable.

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Answer

True

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Feminine rhyme is sometimes used in song lyrics.


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Answer

True 

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A feminine rhyme can be one syllable long.


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Answer

False

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How is feminine rhyme different to masculine rhyme?


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Answer

The stress is placed on the first syllable, whereas in masculine rhyme it is placed on the last syllable.

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I think that you are beautiful

I’m not just not sure if you’re suitable


This is an example of feminine rhyme.

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Answer

True

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She broke her hand

In Switzerland


This is an example of feminine rhyme.

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Answer

False

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I don’t mean to be picky

But this floor is rather sticky


This is an example of feminine rhyme.

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Answer

True

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There came a mighty roar

From behind the wooden door


This is an example of feminine rhyme.

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Answer

False

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Question

Which of the following is a double rhyme?


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Answer

Mangle/bangle

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Which of the following is a triple rhyme?


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Answer

Thinking it/drinking it

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Which of the following is a triple rhyme?


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Answer

Merriment/experiment

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Question

Feminine rhymes should never be used for comic effect.


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Answer

False

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Question

How would you best describe the following?


Weeping willow/fluffy pillow.

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Answer

Double rhyme.

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How would you best describe the following?

Constant motion/Atlantic Ocean.

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Answer

Double rhyme. 

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How would you best describe the following?

Mystical / logistical.

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Answer

Triple rhyme.

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How would you best describe the following?

Long before/jaw.

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Answer

Masculine rhyme.

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Double rhyme and triple rhyme are both types of feminine rhyme.


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Answer

True

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Question

Which of the following is NOT a feminine rhyme?


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Answer

Tree stump/bump

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Question

Which of these is an example of multisyllabic rhyme?

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Answer

Butter and Bitter

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True or False: ‘Multisyllabic’ refers to multiple words with one syllable. 


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Answer

False - ‘Multisyllabic’ refers to words with more than one syllable.


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Fill in the blanks: While _______ rhyme is the rhyming of two or more syllables, ____________ rhyme is the rhyming of single-syllable words.


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Answer

multisyllabic, monosyllabic.

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What is the difference between syllabic and monosyllabic rhyme?


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Answer

Syllabic rhyme is the rhyming of the last syllable of words while monosyllabic rhyme is the rhyming of single-syllable words.

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Question

Which of the following is an example of multisyllabic rhyme?


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Answer

No way and Jose 

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Question

True or False: Multisyllabic rhyme can only occur between multisyllabic words

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Answer

False, rhyming multiple monosyllabic words with other monosyllabic words is also multisyllabic rhyme, not just rhyming multiple multisyllabic words.

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Question

What type of rhyme is this?: 


I sang a song that day

For my friend’s cat play.


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Answer

Monorhyme

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Question

Which of these is a synonym for multisyllabic rhyme?


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Answer

Compound rhyme

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Question

What genre of music is known for its use of multisyllabic rhyme?



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Answer

country

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Question

What technique is often used within multisyllabic rhymes used most frequently with?

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Answer

Slant rhyme

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Question

Which rhyme is an example of multisyllabic rhyme rhyming monosyllabic words with a multisyllabic word?


This very very day came down to us after a boon he on            

My late being there begged of me, overflowing    

        Boon in my bestowing,    

Came, I say, this day to it—to a First Communion


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Answer

‘boon he on’ and 'Communion'

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Question

True or False: Multisyllabic rhyme can only occur between two words which perfectly rhyme.


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Answer

False: Multisyllabic rhyme can also occur between words which slant rhyme.


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Question

Which of the following is not a multisyllabic rhyme?:


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Answer

Lover and Mover

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Question

Correct the incorrect word: ‘Multisyllabic’ refers to words with more than one syllable. Multisyllabic rhyme is the rhyming of two or more words.



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Answer

A: Should read ‘Multisyllabic rhyme is the rhyming of two or more syllables’, as multisyllabic rhyme can occur between multiple monosyllabic words, too.

Show question

Question

Fill in the blanks: Syllabic rhyme is the rhyming of the _____ syllable of words. 


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Answer

last

Show question

Question

What is the difference between multisyllabic rhyme and polysyllabic rhyme?

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Answer

Nothing, they are synonyms

Show question

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