Questions on alliteration in the AQE test are not regular, but they do come along every now and then. In fact, in one recent year (2016) there were two questions about it, so it’s important to be aware of what it is. (SHOCK – even the AQE examiners haven’t got the definition quite right, so if you learn this, you’ll actually be cleverer than them at alliteration!)
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What is alliteration?
Here’s how AQE explains it in their own questions –
Alliteration is where two or more words, having the same first consonant sound, occur close together.
There are a few things to be aware of in addition to this definition –
- Alliteration is not just repeating first letters, it is repeating sounds.
- The words don’t have to occur one after the other, but they will be in the same phrase.
- Although AQE tests say that it is the same first consonant sound, this is WRONG!! Alliteration can also occur with repeated vowel sounds. Nobody’s perfect eh? 😃
Why do writers use it?
- To give their writing some rhythm, even make it sound a little bit musical. It makes a phrase sound more exciting when you read it aloud.
- To make that phrase stand out, or stick in the memory of the reader, as it is important.
- To make their writing more stylish and lovely, just because they can!
Most likely you will be asked to find an example of alliteration in the passage/poem you have read. Following AQE’s own (slightly wrong!) definition, you will be looking for a phrase that contains two or more words that usually begin with the same consonant, but always have the same sound. A trick question might use c and k for example, as these can make the same sound. Simple now you know how!
By the way, a consonant is any letter apart from a, e, i, o or u (vowels). You knew that!
Want to learn more?
If you like writing, you might want to learn more about this stylistic device in English. Here’s what we recommend if this topic interests you – We love the Words are Categorical series for AQE English – this one’s on alliteration.