Rime vs. Rhyme

Wondering what the difference is between rime vs. rhyme? The short answer is: Rimes are about spelling. Rhymes are about sounds.

Just remember, The Cat in the Hat utilizes Rimes! In the story, the rimes are: cat and hat. The Cat in the Hat also utilizes rhymes. In the story, the rhymes are: cat and hat. However, the words “ray” and “sleigh” are rhymes, but they are not rimes.

Is every rime also a rhyme? Yes! Similar to the manner in which every square is a rectangle but not every rectangle is a square, every rime is a rhyme but not every rhyme is a rime.

Let’s learn more about what the terms “rime” and “rhyme” mean for teaching ESL, ELL.

Rimes follow after onsets and sound the same (rhyme) and they also have the same spelling pattern.

Rhymes come after onsets and sound the same.

Why are Rimes so important?

Identifying rime is a crucial part of word study. Help students identify rimes by pointing out the spelling patterns that sound the same, and identify which ones simply rhyme when you hear them, and which ones have matching rimes when you write them. 

This post has a great detailed breakdown of the different theorists that use each term. The easiest way to remember the difference between the terms rime vs. rhyme is this:

” the words “pear” and “care”? These words rhyme, that is, they sound identical after the onsetbut they do not rime

A rime has the same spelling pattern after the onset: such as “cat” and “hat”. A rime house might be cat: hat, mat, rat, vat. A “rhyme” could be cat, blaht or blatt. However, those are not “rimes”.

Quick Notes on Rimes

Rimes will rhyme. 🙂

Not all rimes come at the end of a word. Words with multiple syllables have multiple rimes.

Just as rhyme and rime sound the same, their different spelling pattern means they are NOT rimes 🙂 They rhyme but they are not rimes.

FYI did you know that “rime” can also mean snow or ice over trees and grass when it makes an opaque coating?

What are onsets?

The “onset” is the initial phonological unit of any word (e.g. c in cat) and the term “rime” refers to the string of letters that follow, usually a vowel and final consonants (e.g. at in cat)

Rime vs. Rhyme: Why do we teach them?

Another big difference when thinking of rime vs. rhyme is that rhymes are fun ways to teach listening skills but rimes are especially beneficial to help ELL students learn to decode. Recognizing rimes help students learn to read. Rimes and onsets help kids decode new words, while rhymes…less do.

Repeating onsets and rimes can help kids recognize common patterns in words. This can help students learn to read and spell.

Decoding Strategies with Rimes

Here are some great strategies to teach kids using onsets and rimes.

Fun fact:

Rime and rhyme are homophones because the words have different meanings but we pronouncerae them the same. Rime and Rhyme also rhyme! However, the words are not a rime.

Bottom Line: Rimes have the same spelling and they sound the same. Rhymes sound the same but their spelling can differ. Rhymes sound nice, but teaching rimes is especially crucial to ELL because it helps them decode words. Rime activities are an important part of an ESL curriculum for early readers.

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