Basic Spelling Rules

The English language has two kinds of letters: vowels and consonants. The vowels are a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y or w. The consonants are the letters that are not vowels: b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, z.

Long vowel: We hear the sound of the letter just as it is when we recite the alphabet.

Examples: A long a is pronounced like the a in the words: make, cake, take, ache.

Short vowel: The sound of the vowel is soft.

Example: A short a is pronounced like the a in the words: mask, task, act, jack, bag.

1. Short-Vowel Rule: When one-syllable words have a vowel in the middle, the vowel usually has a short sound: Examples: cat, dog, man, hat, mom, dad, got.

If the letter after the vowel is f, l, or s, this letter is often doubled. Examples: staff, ball, pass.

2. Two-Vowels Together: When two vowels are next to each other, the first vowel is usually long (the sound is the same as the sound of the letter) and the second vowel is silent. Examples: meat, seat, plain, rain, goat, road, lie, pie.

3. "Vowel-Consonant- e" Pattern: When a short word, or the last syllable of a longer word, ends in this pattern: vowel--consonant--e, the first vowel is usually long and the e is silent. Examples: place, cake, mice, vote, mute.

4. Y as a long i: The letter Y makes the long sound of I when it comes at the end of a short word that has no other vowel. Examples: cry, try, my, fly, by, hi.

5. Y as a long e: When y or ey ends a word in an unaccented syllable, the y has the long sound of e. Examples: money, honey, many, key, funny.

6. I before E: Write i before e when the sound is long e except after the letter c. Examples: relieve, relief, reprieve. Notice the change when there is a c preceding the ie: receipt, receive, ceiling, deceive, conceive.

7. E before I: Write e before i when the sound is long a. Examples: weight, freight, reign.

8. Oi or Oy: Use oi in the middle of a word and use oy at the end of a word. Examples: boil, soil, toil, boy, toy.

9. Ou or Ow: Use ou in the middle of a word and use ow at the end of words other than those that end in n or d. Examples: mouse, house, found, mount, borrow, row, throw, crow.

10. Double Consonants: When b, d, g, m, n, or p appear after a short vowel in a word with two syllables, double the consonant: b, d, g, m, n, or p. Examples: rabbit, manner, dagger, banner, drummer.

11. The "ch" sound: At the beginning of a word, use "ch." At the end of a word, use "tch." When the "ch" sound is followed by ure or ion, use t. Examples: choose, champ, watch, catch, picture, rapture.


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