Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Common Sounds For Each Letter

Vowels-- A , E, I, O, & U-- have long, short, and ‘r’-controlled sounds, as well as the ‘schwa’ sound for unaccented syllables. For more information on vowel sounds, including vowel combinations (digraphs, in which the combination has a different sound than either individual letter would have in the same location in a word.



Long A: ate, day, plain, plane, say

Short A: at, class, plan, sad


bank, bed, boat, bubble, by, double, number, verb

Sometimes ‘b’ is silent, especially after ‘m’ or before ‘t’: comb, debt, doubt, dumb, lamb, numb, thumb.


cab, call, cat, coin, colony, cube, cut, lick, sack

cent, celery, certain, cipher, fascinate, lice, race.

C has a hard (‘k’)sound before ‘a,’ ‘o,’ & ’u,’ (or when followed by ‘k’), anda soft (‘s’) sound before ‘e’ or ‘i.’

For CH see Consonant Digraph Sounds (link just above the alphabet list.)


dad, dead, decided, said, tried

D makes a ‘t’ sound after certain (unvoiced) consonants: baked, hoped, fixed, guessed, washed.


Long E: complete, meaning, peel, sweet, three

Short E: address, desk, exit, pen, red, seven

Silent E (makes the preceding vowel long): close, cube, like, name, take.


face, feel, fluffy, free, puff.

(For the F sound, see also GH & PH on the Consonant Digraph Sounds page.)


G makes a hard ‘G’ sound before A, O, & U, as well as before L & R and at the middle and end of words: drug, game, gave, glass, glitter, gold, got, grass, great, rag, seagull, segment.

It usually makes a soft ‘J’ sound before E or I:generous, genetic, ginger, gist.

Exceptions include the hard G of get, girl, and give. (See also GH, Consonant Digraph Sounds.)


hair, half, help, hero, hit, home.

An initial ‘h’ is often silent, (depending on its derivation: the language it came from): herb, honest, honor.

See also CH, GH, PH, SH, TH, and WH in Consonant Digraph Sounds.


Long I: five, nine, right, write.

Short I:in, pill, sick, six.


J is usually pronounced /dʒ/ in English: jam, John, juice.

For more J sounds see G.


back, bake, keep, kind, kiss, make, rack, truck.

At the beginning of words, we usually use K before E or I, and we use C for the /k/ sound before A, O, or U.

At the end of words the K sound is often written CK (to keep the preceding vowel clearly ‘short.’)

For KN see Consonant Digraph Sounds.


all, lake, lack, light, lily, listen, love, silent, still.


am, make, mine, moment, some.


any, man, name, nine, none, turn.

For the N sound see also KN in Consonant Digraph Sounds. (See also the NG digraph.)


Long O: alone, boat, bone, cold, no, note, open, own, rose.

Short O: dog, drop, hot, mop, not, on, stop.


apple, pay, pen, pie, place, pretty, top, wrap.

(See also PH in Consonant Digraph Sounds.)


(sounds like 'kw'): quantity, queen, quit, quite.

(See QU in Consonant Digraph Sounds.)


air, arm, baker, bird, charge, fur, hear, or, ran, red, rose, service, turn.


backs, glasses, maps, mats, pots, say, sell, sold.

See also Z (which is the sound S makes after a voiced consonant like B, D, G, L, or R) and see SH in Consonant Digraph Sounds.


at, met, pot, tall, test, taught.

See also TH and TION in Consonant Digraph Sounds.


Long U: cube, tube, mute, use.

Short U: cup, tub, under, up, us.

(See QU in Consonant Digraph Sounds.)


give, leave, love, value, very, visit, voice.


want, water, week, wife, will, wood, word.

W is silent in many words beginning WR: wrap, wreck, write, wrong.

See WH in Consonant Digraph Sounds. (Also see the AW, EW, and OW digraphs in English vowels, in which the W takes the place of U: awful, saw, new, brown, cow, grow, show.)


X usually makes the sound /ks/: box, excited, six, toxic.


Y makes the International Phonetic Alphabet /j/ sound: year, yellow, yes, yet, you, young.

It can also serve as a vowel, taking the place of I, either as /ɪ/: mystery,

or /aɪ/ : cry, dry, fly, my, sky, try, type, or why,

or /iː/, especially at the end of multi-syllable words: any, carry, city, easy, lonely, sorry, study or very,

It is also part of the AY and OY vowel digraphs in play, say, way,

boy and destroy.


buzz, fuzzy, zero, zoo.

(Many times S, especially in plurals, makes the /z/ sound: boys, news, noise.)

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