A limerick (/lɪmərɪk/) is a humorous form of poem with five verses which follows a particular rhyme and stress pattern. Owing to these unique patterns, limericks are particularly useful for teaching sentence stress and pronunciation.
Verses 1, 2 and 5 have three stressed syllables, and verses 3 and 4 have two stressed syllables. As an example, the stressed syllables in the following limerick are in bold:
- There was an old man who supposed,
- That the street door was partially closed;
- But some very large rats,
- Ate his coats and his hats,
- While that futile old gentleman dozed.
The final word of the first, second and fifth verses rhyme, and the final words of the third and fouth verses rhyme. This is called AABBA rhyme (A appears in italics and B appears in bold).
- There was an old man in a tree,
- Who was horribly bored by a bee;
- When they asked, "Does it buzz?"
- He replied, "Yes, it does!
- "It's a regular brute of a bee!