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Understand the Conventions of a Sonnet

In this worksheet, students will explore the conventions of sonnets.

'Understand the Conventions of a Sonnet' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Year:  Year 7 English worksheets

Curriculum topic:   Reading

Curriculum subtopic:   Poetic Convention Awareness

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

A sonnet is a poem comprising fourteen lines written in iambic pentameter. It follows a certain rhyme scheme and has strict metrical construction (rhythmic pattern).


A hand writing on a scroll with a quill.

To make things more confusing there are different types of sonnets.

For example, the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet has 14 lines: an octave (8 lines) and a sestet (6 lines). It is split this way as the octave tends to pose a question or state an issue and the sestet answers or concludes it.

In contrast, an English sonnet or a Shakespearian sonnet comprises three quatrains (a 4 line stanza) and one rhyming couplet.

Shakespeare is famous for writing many sonnets. Let's take a look at them now.


A cartoon of Shakespeare with a quill.

Sonnet 18 - William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


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