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Absolutely Ridiculous English Spelling
Lesson 3. Word Families Sound the Same
1. Words that have the Long A+R sound. This sound is represented by several different spelling combinations in English: -AIR, -ARE, -ERR, -EIR. If you think of the different spellings as different families, then you can remember how to spell the words by remembering what family they are part of.
|Words containing the sound of Long A + R|
2. Words that have the Long E+R sound. This sound is represented by the following spellings: -EAR, -EER, -ERE, -IER . Remember the words as part of a family.
|Words containing the sound of Long E + R|
3. Words that have the Long A+T sound. This sound is represented by the following spellings: -ATE, -AIT, -EAT, -EIGHT, -AIGHT. Four of the groups, or Families, are rather small, so you should be able to remember them easily.
|Words containing the sound of Long A + T|
4. Words that have the Long A + N sound can be a pain.This sound is represented by the following spellings: -ANE, -AIN, -EIGN, -EIN. Study and learn the words as part of a group or family.
Memory Helpers:"The man down the lane hit Jane with a cane." "What will you gain if you remain in the rain?" "Cain tried in vain to explain why Able was slain."
|Words containing the sound of Long A + N|
5. Words with the Long E + N sound can be seen next: This sound is produced with the following sets of letters: -EEN, -EAN, -ENE, -INE. The first two groups are the main ones, so you should study them well.
Memory Helpers: "I've seen the teen queen preen between dates." "The mean Dean made me clean every bean."
|Words containing the sound of Long E + N|
6. Words that have the Long A + L sound: This sound is made by these letter combinations: -ALE, -AIL, -EIL. The first two are by far the most common, and the only way to learn which words belong in which group is to STUDY, MEMORIZE, READ and WRITE the words as much as you can.
Memory Helpers: "The pale male whale got caught in the gale." "The man from Yale bought a bale of kale that was on sale." "If you fail to make bail, you'll get your next mail in jail."
|Words containing the sound of Long A + L|
7. Words that have the Schwa + R sound: A SCHWA is the name of a vowel sound and of the linguistic symbol used to denote that sound. The symbol is an upside-down small printed "e" , sometimes with a colon (:) after it, and the sound it represents is a middle-of-the-mouth, nothing special one, the sound you might make as you try to think of what to say next. In writing, this sound might be represented like this: "Uhh." The schwa sound is very common in English words. Here are several examples (the red letters will sound like a schwa). Notice that the letters U, E, O, OU and A are used to make the SCHWA sound in these words.
|Words that have the sound of SCHWA + R|
NOTE: I had to check many of these words in the dictionary to be sure they really did contain the SCHWA sound. You can do that, also. Somewhere in the dictionary will be a guide to the various linguistic symbols used and what sounds they stand for, and in the body of the dictionary, after each word, you should find the symbols used to describe how each word is pronounced.
8. Words that have the -ANK, -INK, -ONK, or -UNK sounds: Words that have the same letter combinations will sound the same, so if you know what one word sounds like, you will be able to pronounce the other words that are spelled with the same letters.
9. Words that end with -ASH, -ESH, -ISH, -OSH, -USH: These words will usually contain a Short Vowel sound. The only exceptions I can think of right now are WASH, which has a Soft A sound. and BUSH and PUSH. All the other words that are spelled with the same letters will sound alike.
We have described an effective way to study spelling words on some of the other pages, including the Spelling Clues page. Use that method to study any of the words on this page that you do not already know well. With the Word Families especially, it will be important to have someone dictate the words to you as you spell them and use them in sentences so you get used to the sounds of the words and their relationship to their spelling.
To see More Word Families, click HERE.
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