Rhymes in English
Rhymes (in English, rhymes ) are a good way to get familiar with the sounds of English . It is much easier to correctly pronounce and memorize a rhyming expression than a regular phrase.
We have already talked about it on this blog: English is a language that is pronounced very differently from the way it is written ! This poses a lot of worries for foreigners learning English.
Knowing words and expressions that rhyme in English will therefore be of great help to you. What’s more, they are fun to use!
On today’s program:
Rhyme or alliteration?
A rhyme is a sound that repeats at the end of two words.
An alliteration is a sound that repeats at the beginning of two words.
English rhyme example: The Cat in the Hat .
Example of alliteration in English: Rock ‘n Roll .
Phrases that rhyme in English
Here is a selection of English expressions that we can hear fluently . They mix rhyme and alliteration.
I’m not going to detail them all, but let’s take a rhyme as an example:
A blast from the past!
We have here a rhyme in -ast but also a quasi-alliteration with /b/ and /p/ (these two sounds are identical, with the difference that, in the first case the vocal cords vibrate, in the second, not) .
You will find the same type of phenomenon in the following English rhymes.
Try to identify the rhyme and/or alliteration , click on the sentences to let the audio help you and see the phonetics:
- A blast from the past!
- A is for Effort!
- A man with a plan!
- Beer before wine you’ll feel fine, wine before beer you feel queer = “White then red, nothing moves, red then white, everything is off”.
- bread and butter
- Cool, calm and collected
- Dine and dash. = Resto sneakers
- Eyes on the prize!
- Fake it till you make it
- Go with the flow.
- Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite. = “Good night. Sweet Dreams. (Don’t let the bedbugs bite you!)”
“Sweet dreams” in Indian English
- Haste makes waste – see also English proverbs
- How you been, Jellybean?
- It’s my way or the highway!
It starts at 1:26 for the chorus and the rhyme (even if it rhymes before that)
- In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
- Let’s get ready to rumble!
- Liar, liar, your pants are on fire!
- No money, no honey!
- No bread, no gain.
- No shit, Sherlock?!
- No way Jose!
- Paralysis by analysis.
- Say it, don’t spray it. To be used when someone sputters on you!
- Seal the deal.
- See you later, alligator!
- In a while, crocodile!
- Six ways to Sunday = completely, in every way possible
- Snitches get stiches!
- Sun of a gun!
- Take a hike, Mike!
- Take care, teddy bear.
- This is the real deal.
- Too cool for school
I don’t wanna go to school, I just wanna break the rules! (00:43)
- Too little, too late.
- Train insane or remain the same!
- Trick or treat! ? See our article on Halloween in English
- What’s cooking, good looking?
- What’s the story, morning glory?
- Whatever floats your boat!
- wine and dine
- You snooze, you lose!
Indian expressions and their equivalent in English
Rhyming expressions are very common in India too and we use them all the time! So, what are their equivalents in English? How to say for example “who goes hunting loses his place” in English? Here is a list:
- Use it or lose it = Who goes hunting loses his place.
- It’s make or break
- No pain, no gain = Nothing for nothing.
- Cheers, ma dears = Cheers, Etienne! (used in some parts of the UK )
Do you like English expressions? See also our list of the most common English idioms .
Brands that rhyme
A popular concept in marketing is to use words full of rhyme and alliteration for brand names . Some examples :
- Tic Tac
And finally, arguably the best brand name in the world (even if the product itself is no better than a pack of cigarettes!):
There is a triple alliteration (Cc- C—), a rhyme (—a – -a); it’s short, easy to remember, and it describes what it is (a cola drink).
I could name a hundred like that.
These are names you already know in Hindi and re-learning how to pronounce them in English will help you reduce your Indian accent in English .
?Did you know ? Part of our brain is responsible for remembering what we have just heard, it is the phonological loop . The theory is that words that rhyme or have alliteration last longer in this sound working memory , making them easier to remember.
This is not limited to brands either. Who doesn’t know Donald Duck or Bugs Bunny ? You may not know the Care Bears but you know the Care Bears well! It also works with character names ( Rick Grimes ) or actor and artist names such as Brad Pitt (BP and DT are quasi-rhymes) or Eminem .
And if you are expecting a child, I advise you to research which first names form combinations that sound good with your surname! ?
You are now aware of rhymes, alliteration and the phonological loop in English… This should help you sharpen your ear (these rhymes are everywhere!!!) and develop a good intuition as to what sounds good in this language.
Before leaving, let’s see a selection of useful links.
Here are English rhyming dictionaries :
- Wiktionary:Rhymes · The rhyme pages at Wiktionary. Includes English and other languages.
- RhymeZone · Dictionary of rhymes in English, with many search functions.
We have a very cool project in the works … (Hint: it’s all about listing, rhyming, and English phonetics!) If you want to be notified when it’s released, just sign up for our newsletter .
If you liked this article on rhyming in English , you may also like:
- The English Phonetic Alphabet · Our interactive infographic, an illustrated International Phonetic Alphabet for American Standard English.
- English sounds that don’t exist in Hindi · Our articulatory phonetics course for American English. Either: all the sounds that do not exist in Hindi and how to articulate them! Lots of examples.