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You Might Be Speaking in Iambic Pentameter Without Even Knowing It

Updated on October 18, 2015

What the Heck is Iambic Pentameter?

Don't let the fancy name fool you; Iambic Pentameter is actually pretty simple to figure out. In fact, most of us use it in our normal everyday conversations and thoughts.

Let's start with a breakdown of the words:

Iamb-ic Penta-meter:

iamb = an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable

penta = 5

meter = meter or rythym of a line

Iambic Pentameter: Meter of a Line Consisting of 5 "iambs"

What are iambs?

An iamb is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one, as demonstrated below:

Unstressed syllables are marked with U's and stressed syllables are marked with /'s. Each line consists of 5 pairs of unstressed then stressed syllables (5 iambs).
Unstressed syllables are marked with U's and stressed syllables are marked with /'s. Each line consists of 5 pairs of unstressed then stressed syllables (5 iambs).

In Other Words... 5 iambs Sound Like This:

da-dum da-dum da-dum da-dum da-dum

Do YOU Speak in Iambic Pentameter?

If you really listen, you may notice that natural speech patterns in English often follow iambic pentameter. It rolls smoothly off the tongue and sounds pleasant to the ear. Keep that in mind next time you talk out loud and find out if YOU speak in iambic pentameter!

What Do 14 Lines of Iambic Pentameter Make?

A sonnet. Some of the most popular sonnets feature iambic pentameter, such as "Sonnet 130" and "Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day?" by William Shakespeare and Edmund Spenser's "Amoretti."

Most sonnets feature the following rhyme scheme:

A
B
A
B
C
D
C
D
E
F
E
F
G
G

Most also contain the following structure:

4 quatrains (a group of 4 lines of poetry - ABAB)
1 couplet (a pair of 2 lines of poetry - GG)

My Favorite Sonnet, Shakespeare's "Sonnet 130"

Sources:

http://img3.etsystatic.com/il_fullxfull.214660183.jpg
http://i.ytimg.com/vi/I6gxaL5wtLo/hqdefault.jpg
http://media.web.britannica.com/eb-media/11/14411-004-DDF4D222.gif
http://diaryofanothinggirl.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/shakespeare-130.jpg

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