1. Basic English Spelling Facts 2. Spelling Clues 3. Word Families 5. Word Fun 6. Some Rules 7. More Rules 8. Weird Words Say-it-in-English Entry Page

Absolutely Ridiculous English Spelling

Lesson 4. More English Word Families

The  Long O sound in English is made with the following letter combinations: -O- ; -OA- ; -O+consonant+Silent E ; -OW ; -O- before LL;  -OU- ; -OUGH.  It might be easier to study these words in groups, or families.  For example, study all of the -OLL words together.  When you know them well, work on the -OW words, and so on.  In addition, I urge you to read as much English as you can, every day, whether English is your native language or a second or third language.  Read soup can or cereal box labels, newspapers, magazines, comics, billboards, street signs, or books.  The more you see these words in print, the better a feel you will develop regarding how the words are used and spelled. 

troll row mode sole tone pore dote
toll bow node vole cope sore mote
roll show rode home dope shore note
poll grow strode tome mope tore rote
knoll sow bole dome rope probe vote
pour blow dole bone joke dose doze
four stow mole cone bore hose though
soul soak hole hone before nose although
roan bowl pole scone core pose dough
loan bode role shone gore prose no
moan code stole stone more rose go

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boat float stoat boar coal roam goad
goat moat throat roar foal loam load
coat oat toast soar goal loaf road
coast roast boast oar foam oak toad
robe globe probe strobe clone broke poke

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The Long U sound in English is spelled with -EW-; -OUGH; -OE; -UE; -OO-; -U+consonant+Silent E; -OU.  Here are some examples.  Divide these words up into family groups in order to study them.

new drew pool moon boot rule flute
blew grew goof noon moot blue route
knew do hoof spoon through flue youth
dew to proof soon shoe glue truth
yew too roof root tune true you
crew fool boon shoot dune brute  
threw tool croon toot rune chute  


Words containing the Long I sound are usually spelled with -i + consonant + Silent E,  with i + ND;  with -igh ; with -Y ; -ie; -yeIt can be easier to study and learn these words in smaller groups or families; for example, try the -ILE group, or the -IRE group, and so on. 

bike rile pined wine site light by my
dike bind whined bide dire might buy ply
hike blind brine hide fire night bye pie
mike find confine ride hire right fly pry
pike kind dine side mire sight fry spy
bile mind fine wide sire tight die spry
mile rind mine bite tire high dry sly
Nile wind nine cite wire night cry try
file dined pine kite fight sigh lie rye
pile mined tine rite flight thigh lye why

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Long A + M sound

aim, maim

came, blame, dame, lame, game, fame, flame, name, same, tame

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There is a common kind of sound in English called a DIPHTHONG that is made up of one vowel sound sliding into another, but only forming one syllable.  The sounds of Long A, Long I and Long O are actually diphthongs, according to language experts, but we treat them as single sounds when  spelling English words.   The following chart will show words containing the diphthong [AU] , meaning an 'ah' sound gliding into an 'oo' sound.  This sound is made with the following letter combinations: -OU- ; -OW- ; -OUGH- ; 

allow down jowl sow announce found mountain
bow drown now scow astound grout noun
brow endow plow town about ground pout
cow frown prow tower bough house pound
chow gown powder trowel bout hound rout
crowd how power wow bound mound round
clown howl row yowl doubt mount sound

When the letter S sounds like a Z:

There are many words in English that are spelled with an S but are pronounced as if that letter were a Z.  The following list will include many examples, but will not be all that exist.  I will underline the S that sounds like a Z.  Notice that a great number of the Z sounds are at the end of plural forms or Third-person Singular noun forms.  I'm sure there is some Rule that tells us when an S sounds like a Z and when it doesn't, but I don't know that rule.  (It seems to me that when an S is added to a word that ends with the sounds of K, P  or T, the S will sound like S and will not add an extra syllable.  Examples: bike > bikes; whip > whips; cat > cats.  When adding the S also adds an extra syllable, the S will sound like Z (always? usually?). Examples: case > cases; pitch > pitches. Okay, the more I get into this, the more exceptions and variations I can think of, so just learn the words.) 

arms bees cases eagles glows lids names
aims babies classes faces hose laces plays
apples buses cruises fuses nose lose places
angels blouses crosses flies houses mars rings
angles branches eyes glasses horses minds sings
wise rise disguise days please knees

There is a group of English words that really illustrates the ridiculous nature of English spelling and pronunciation.  I don't know why the following inconsistencies  occur, but they are things you need to be aware of as you study.

lose (sounds like luze ) : to misplace something or to be defeated in a game or contest. Lose (rhymes with close ) : a family name. "My brothers went to Lose School."  loose (sounds like luse ) : not tight. "The woman's clothes were loose because she had lost so much weight."
whose (sounds like huze ) : possessive pronoun or adjective. "Whose book is lying on the floor?" hose (rhymes with nose ) : a long flexible tube for carrying water or other liquids. choose (sounds like chuze or chews ) ; to make a selection. "On election day, one must choose the best person for the office."
close (sounds like cloze ) : to shut, to make not open. "Tommy, please close the door." close (pronounced with Log O followed by an S sound ) : near, almost hit.  "The foul ball landed in the bleachers close to my seat." those (rhymes with nose ): demonstrative pronoun or adjective, to refer to them. "Those blue flowers are prettier than the red ones. "
nose (rhymes with flows ) : The sense organ that sticks out from the middle of your face. noose (sounds like nuse ) : a special knot in a rope forming a loop, once used to hang criminals. Knows (sounds like nose) : 3rd person singular of to know -to be aware of, to be acquainted with.  "John knows the clerk at the corner store."

The next page will  illustrate again the danger of spelling a word in English by the way it sounds or is pronounced.  Click HERE to proceed.

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