BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Music
Sold on Song. Classic songs, covers, songwriting and more. Listen Live.

 Full Schedule

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

Songwriting Guides
Writing a song

Why do so many songs use rhyming words?


  • Phrases that rhyme are far easier to remember than phrases that do not.
  • Words that rhyme often complement the melody of the singing part to a song. They follow the natural contours of a melody, creating a pleasing musical effect.
  • Rhyme helps the listener to guess which word is coming next and understand the lyrical message. This can be very useful if you're listening to a singer in a theatre or noisy club!
  • Rhyming words tend to stir us emotionally, giving weight to our thoughts.
In most songs, the words at the ends of lines rhyme with each other. Consecutive lines often rhyme. For example:

I'm gonna call her on the telephone a
Have her over 'cos I'm all alone a
I need excitement I need it bad b
And it's the best I ever had b

Teenage Kicks (The Undertones)

It's handy to have a rhyming dictionary around when you're writing songs.
Steve Hillier

Just as often, the end of every other line will rhyme. For example:

Are you going to Scarborough Fair? a
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme b
Remember me to one who lives there a
He once was a true love of mine b

Scarborough Fair (traditional)

The pattern of the rhymes in a song is called the rhyming scheme. Teenage Kicks' rhyme scheme is described as 'aabb', Scarborough Fair as 'abab'. There are many other rhyming schemes but these two are the most common.

Gary OsborneGary Osborne
The lyricist discusses why he's a rhyming kinda guy and why American friends call him 'the Rhymey Limey'.
Listen to the interview Audio help

Getting your lyric to flow well by using rhyme can be one of the most frustrating problems for a new songwriter. Here are some tips to help you on your way:

  • It's handy to have a rhyming dictionary around when you're writing songs. They can help you find a rhyme for almost any word, but be careful. It's quite rare that you'll find a word that not only rhymes but also fits the meaning of your lyric perfectly. Words used purely to complete a rhyme can be immensely irritating for your listeners.
  • Internal rhymes can sound very hooky. Simple phrases such as 'surround sound', 'firewire' and 'rolling stone' are examples of internal rhymes. Try incorporating some into your songs.
  • Although words that rhyme can sound profound, it can be useful to break out of rhyming occasionally. This subtly draws the listener's attention to that line, which can feel more sincere. Rappers do this all the time.
  • There are a fair few English words that don't have many (or any) useful rhymes, including the word 'love'! Here's a few more for you:

You don't have to shy away from using these words, but it's best to avoid putting them at the end of your lines.
Send us your views or read other peoples'
Send us your comments on: Rhyme

Michael D. Robinson, San Diego
I've been writing songs, now, for about, eleven or twelve years. And although, I've had little success, at it, I've received, lots of praise! Not just, for telling, a great story. But for having the ability, to rhyme. And if I do say so myself, I'm extremely, good at it! And as far as I'm concerned, it's the most important element, of a song. Without the ability, you aren't much of a lyricist. No offense, but that's, how I feel! Anyway thanks, for the tip. And I won't give up, just yet! To anyone, struggling to get noticed, keep the faith.

Bianca, New Haven
well i think rhyme is good, it should tell u more, like it should give you some ideas for songs and it should give u some rhyming words other then thats it's great it taught me a few more things i need to know about writng songs.

misery clacton
well i think rhyme is great, it,s clevely thought out but i've been writting a love poem and im stuck on a rhyme. the line goes (im looking at the phone thinking of an excuse 2 call) but i cant seem to find a rhyming word that goes with call ahhh its been playing my mind 4 a week now...

Verity Bramson, Worcestershire
This is a great site and is very useful even though I've been writing music and lyrics as well as poetry for a number of years. Thank you! By the way: "love" does rhyme with "above", "dove" etc. Also half rhymes work very well such as "love" and "enough".

KellyAnn , France
Hey, I've been writting lyrics for the past 3-4 years, I use rhymes mostly and its well hard ! I often have to chance the pronouciation of a word for it to fit in my sentence. I've just found out today about this Website and i think its cool it's taught me a few things !

Songwriting Guides Writing a Song Genre Structure Verse Chorus Melody Tempo / Rhythm Harmony Lyrics Beginnings Endings Ideas Rhyme Middle 8 Hooks Performing Working with Other Writers In the Studio Publishers Record Companies Management Staying on Track
 The Songwriting Game
Songwriting Game Pick a chord
Play with chords and find out what kind of songwriter you are with the Songwriting Game.

Doves Doves
Special guests on Dermot's show this week

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy