Difference Between Alliteration and Consonance

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 07, 2023


Difference Between Alliteration and Consonance

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To be able to distinguish between Alliteration and Consonance, we need to understand the concept of literary devices first. The following 2 paragraphs focus on literary devices in general; from there, we will move on to the comparison of Alliteration and Consonance. An author, while he is writing a book or a novel, wants to boost his writing style, and for this, he needs to achieve a certain effect. For this, he needs to take the help of literary devices. The placement of these devices makes all the difference. It needs to be pointed out that such deployment of literary devices happens only in creative writing, and their main purpose is to provide insight to the work at hand. Plays, novels, and songs are some of the pieces of art where literary devices are used. Academic writing and research writing are not known for their use of literary devices.
Literary devices can be used in different ways. On short phrases, the literary devices used will be those that concentrate on the word level. Then, there are sentence-level literary devices that focus on the complete sentence. There are literary devices that can be applied to the entire write-up, and these are known as structural literary devices. There are different literary devices available to the writer which serve different purposes.
So, let’s consider Alliteration and consonance vis-à-vis literary devices. Both Alliteration and consonance are applied on the word level. Alliteration is actually a type of consonance. Both have the basic function of repeating consonant sounds. We know the letters of the alphabet are divided into 2 types, that is, consonants and vowels. There are 5 vowels – A, E, I, O, U. The remaining letters of the alphabet are all consonants. In one way of speaking, both vowels and consonants target similar outcomes, though consonants hit harder than vowels. Despite the similarities, there are some important differences, which is what this article is trying to illustrate.

Alliteration vs. Consonance

It has been observed that the purpose of the subjects of this article is more or less the same; that is, both are used to infuse emphasis and rhythm in a write-up, which could be either prose or poetry. But it’s the timing of these subjects which sets them apart. In the case of Alliteration, it is about repeating the sound of the consonant at the beginning of the words that are lying close to each other. To quote an example of Alliteration – ‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.’ Here, the sound of ‘p’ is repeated at the start of several words. Consonance is different when it comes to repeating consonant sounds; the repetition of these can happen in any position within nearby words. To quote an example of Consonance – ‘Mike likes his new bike’. Here, the sound of ‘k’ is being repeated, but unlike in the case of Alliteration, it is repeated at different positions within the words. So, in a nutshell, the main difference between the subjects can be ascribed to where the repetition happens. In the case of Alliteration, the repetition happens at the beginning of the words, but in Consonance, it can vary a little; that is, it can happen anywhere but within words that are close to each other.

Differences Between Alliteration and Consonance (In Tabular Form)

Parameters of ComparisonAlliterationConsonance
Whole/PartSpecial type of consonanceIn this case, it could be a consonant or a vowel whose sound is stressed.  
Main functionAt the beginning of the word, a stressed sound is being repeated; this constitutes Alliteration.  This involves repeating consonant words that are closely connected.
Which part is stressedIt is at the beginning of the word that the stressed sound happens. When the sound of a consonant is stressed at any part of the word, it is called Consonance.
Consonant/Vowel      In this case, it is only a consonant that is taken into consideration when stressing the sound.In this case, it is only a consonant which is taken into consideration when stressing the sound.

What Is Alliteration?

To define Alliteration, one needs to understand the concept of a stressed syllable. Also, one needs to understand that Alliteration is a special case of Consonance. The repetition of consonant sounds at the stressed syllable results in Alliteration. Alliteration might be a case of Consonance, but it is different at the same time from the latter. The difference lies in the fact that the repetition happens at the beginning of the sentence to two or more words.
The usage of Alliteration is mostly seen in the fields of prose and poetry. Here, Alliteration comes in handy when catchy sounds are to be produced. Further, Alliteration is at times used for producing audible effects along with certain actions.
As already mentioned, Alliteration is a literary device. It can be used both in poetry as well as prose. It involves repeating two or more words of initial consonant sound when these words are lying close to each other. Alliteration is not about repeating consonant letters that certain words start with; it is about repeating consonant sounds that occur at the starting of the words. To understand the last statement, we need to consider an example. For instance, consider the phrase “kids’ coats”. Here, the word “kids” and the word “coats” start with different consonant letters. However, the consonant sound produced is the same. Hence, the phrase depicts an alliteration. It should be noted that Alliteration is only possible when the alliterative words occur in quick succession. If, in between, there are too many words that are not alliterative, then the purpose is defeated, and there’s no chance of Alliteration to happen.
Everybody’s heard of ‘tongue twisters’. Alliterative tongue twisters are a great way to encourage people who are trying to learn a new language. This is especially true for children. On hearing similar sounds being repeated at the start of new words, they tend to pick up the language faster and more effectively. Generally speaking, alliterative tongue twisters are a great way to practice one’s pronunciation, as well as fluency and articulation in the language. With the help of Alliterative tongue twisters, verbal exercises are developed, which are used by public speakers, actors, and politicians to improve clarity while speaking.

Examples of Alliteration

  • After the wicked woman from the West was arrested, wished she wasn’t a witch.
  • She stood stalk, still seriously wounded.
  • The friendly farmer fed the five families every year.
  • The better batter makes the batter better.

Alliteration is widely used in the fields of advertising and marketing. The true potential of Alliteration is exploited in these fields, as when repeating the sound of initial letters can lead to a memorable experience for the customers. Following are some of the best examples of Alliteration being used in advertising -

  • Coca Cola
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Polly Pocket
  • Tonka Trucks
  • Weight Watchers
  • Rainbow Room
  • Dippin’ Dots
  • Fantastic Four
  • Hip Hop
  • Paw Patrol

What Is Consonance?

When we repeat consonants in words that are lying close to each other in a sentence, it is called Consonance. But unlike Alliteration, where the sound of repeating the words happens in the beginning, in the case of Consonance, the repetition can happen anywhere. Consonance is similar to Alliteration in the sense that both are literary devices. When we use Consonance in a line of text, our focus is primarily on the sound of the consonants, we don’t have to focus too much on the letters themselves. The repeating sound can appear anywhere, for instance, at the start, the middle, or the ending of the words. Also, the words should appear in quick succession for the consonance to happen.

The field of poetry utilizes Consonance in a big way. Dramatic auditory effects can be achieved in poetry by repeating consonant sounds. Consonance helps the writer to achieve his purpose by thematically using words. The impact of his words is further heightened when he uses them in a rhetorical and artistic sense, thanks to Consonance, which helps him in achieving this effect. He, therefore, manages to grab the attention of his audience and focus the same on the literary work’s subject.

It might come as a surprise, but Consonance is not limited to poets and artists alone. The common man is known to use Consonance in day-to-day conversation as well. At times, their usage in everyday parlance might sound a bit cliché, but they are a great way to express meanings familiar to both the speaker and the listener. Paired words that come with sounds that are repetitive, appeal to listeners and speakers alike.

Examples of Consonance

The list of instances where Consonance is used is a long one. The following are just a few of those to get an idea of how Consonance works –

  • fuddy-duddy
  • It’s a matter of time
  • pitter patter
  • odds and ends
  • best bet
  • tea and toast
  • lily-livered
  • Better Late Than Never
  • twist tie
  • jump through a hoop
  • a little later
  • front and centre

While we are at it, we should not forget about the usage of Consonance in ‘Tongue twisters’. When a string of words involves Consonance, they are rendered difficult to say correctly and/or quickly. They are fun to hear for kids and help learners of new languages. Let’s consider an example of Tongue Twisters where Consonance is being used –

She sells seashells on the seashore.

The shells she sells are seashells, I’m sure.

And if she sells seashells on the seashore,

Then I’m sure she sells seashore shells.

Difference Between Alliteration and Consonance (In Points)

Placement of Words

As has already been mentioned, both Alliteration and Consonance are literary devices that are aimed at repeating the consonant sounds, but the difference between them lies concerning where that repetition happens.

In the case of Alliteration, it is the initial words in a sentence that are repeated to make them sound catchy. Here, the focus is to give the start of the first few words in a sentence the same sound. However, in the case of Consonance, the sound is ascribed to words nearby, but these might occur at the start, in the middle, or at the end of a line of text. It should be noted that in both cases, the words which are going to be attributed the consonant sound need to appear in quick succession.

Main Category and Sub-Category

The main category under which both of these literary devices fall is Consonance itself. Therefore, we can say that Alliteration is a sub-category of Consonance. Another way to look at it is that Alliteration is a special case of Consonance.

Difference in the Usage

Alliteration focuses more on the ‘stress’ factor while repeating the words, that is, the repetition is done where the stress is available. Consonance is different in the sense that here, repetition is done among the words that are closely connected. 

The Purpose That Each Literary Device Serves

Alliteration aims at instilling a beauty of sorts in the literary work. It aims to give a musical effect to the text. Consonance concentrates more on providing a rhyming effect and is therefore used mostly in poetry.

Vowels vs. Consonants

Alliteration is not restricted to consonant sounds only. It can involve the sound of vowels as well. The same is not true for Consonance, which involves the use of sounds of consonants only.


The main purpose of both Alliteration and Consonance is to make a literary piece of work entertaining. When we say literary work, we aim to include the worlds of poetry and prose, as well as literature. The basic function of Alliteration and Consonance is to make the work of an artist more interesting by using techniques to appeal to his auditory senses. This they do by adding rhythm to his work. They resemble each other in the manner of repetition of consonants, but this happens at different stages in a line of text. This is a striking feature that makes them inherently different.

On further examination, one realizes that their actual usage can also differ. Consonance is used more in the world of poetry because it helps the poet in the arrangement of words in such a manner that enhances the language being used and thus adds to the appeal of the poem. Alliteration is associated more with writers of books and novels and is an extremely useful tool in the field of literature.


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  • https://literarydevices.net


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"Difference Between Alliteration and Consonance." Diffzy.com, 2023. Sat. 30 Sep. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-alliteration-and-consonance>.

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