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Pronunciation Rules

Long Vowel Rules in Words  
                                                                   Short Vowel Rules in Words
   I before GH  
                                                                    1-1-1  rule CVC
  Y with a long I sound  
   Y with a long E sound   
   Last vowel long if stressed 
                                                                    Words with "CIOUS" (sh sound)
   Variations of "ough"  and "augh"in
 words - silent and F sound



By learning English Vowel Rules, you will recognize when a vowel sound changes.

Long Vowels:  VCV = vowel consonant vowel (ate)
Long Vowels:  VVC =vowel vowel consonant (eat)
Short Vowels: CVC = consonant vowel consonant (cat) [One syllable]


LONG VOWELS in one-syllable words 

1. Rule:  VCV     Vowel Consonant Vowel

When a one-syllable word  has one consonant between two vowels, the first vowel is long and the second is silent ( VCV) )
 The  silent vowel at the end of the word is a signal that the first vowel is long.

Examples: ate, lake, cake, make, kite, bite, cute, flute, save, shave, shake, rake, whale, white, ripe, gripe, stripe, grape, tape, shave, gave, ice, wise,rice, brave, and so on.
[There are exceptions such as live, give, have, said, olive*]

2. Rule: VVC  Vowel Vowel Consonant 

Usually, when a word has two vowels together, the first is long and the second is silent.  Remember this little saying: "When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking."

Examples of words where the first vowel is long and the second is silent:
oat, eat, meat, float, boat, coat, doe, meet, feel, reel, real, steel, steal, deal, jail, reap, heap, cheap, steep, sheep, keep, jail, blue, lie, tie

(Exceptions:  said, does, )

3. Rule: Letter "I" before an H or GH is long in one-syllable words. 

Examples: sign, consignment, sigh, high, thigh, night, fight, fright, light,might,light, blight, sight, tight, alight,
However, when the word sign changes to signature, the "i" has a short sound because the vowel is followed by two consonants sig na ture  CVCC (short vowel rules)

4. Rule:  second vowel is not long in 3-syllable words ending in VCV unless the stress  is on the third syllable.

Examples: stress on first syllable =last vowel is not long:
EStimate, apPROXimate, INfinite, MALice, CHAlice, ACcurte
(Pronounced estimit   approximit, infinit)

When the Stress is on last syllable, the vowel is long as in the following words:

prorATE, adjudiCATE, elongATE, estimATE , divINE

                         Long I Sounds

5. The Letter "Y" has a long I sound, (like in "MY") in one-syllable words ending in Y, and also when a word ends in "Y" and the stress is on the "Y."
Examples:  my, try, fly, shy, cry, rely, mystify,
justify, nullify, deny,

6.  EY or YE has a Long I sound in: eye, geyser, rye, dye, Meyer
     UY has a Long I sound in:
buy, guy

German Words and names: English Long I sound in words with EI:   kein, nein, Reinhardt, mein,

8. The Letter Y has a LONG I sound in one-syllable words such as "MY," and in two-syllable words if the stress is on the Y  - such as in "NYlon and deNY"  and is between two consonants (VCV)
Other examples are:

          byte,  by, fly, my, cry,sty, sky, fry,try, justify, mystify, radify, comply, rely,  beautify, PYlon,
multiply, satisfy, edify.

9. The Letter Y has a long E sound as in "baby" when it is at the end of the word, and it is not stressed.
                   pony, baby, silly, jelly, bully, Tony, bony, sunny, funny, bunny, stormy

10. The Letter Y has a short I sound in words such as "Odyssey" (CVCC)

11. EA as in "wear"  has a LONG A sound as in the word "dare". Examples:  wear,  *tear (heteronym), swear, bear.
Note: "tear" has a long E sound when used as a noun: "Her eyes were full of tears."

12. EI as in "sleigh" has a LONG A when followed by silent "GH": Examples: neighbor, weigh, neigh,

13. AY has a long A sound:  bays, days, lays, may,slay, tray, crayola, clay.
NOTE: Exception = The word "SAYS" is pronounced "SEZ"

Letter Y  has three sounds and functions both as a consonant and vowel sounds.
Y = Consonant
Usually, if a word begins with a "Y," then the Y has the sound as in Yellow. Examples: Yell, year, yam,
York, yard, yoke, yolk,

Y=Vowel (long I) End of one-syllable words and words where the Y is stressed: fly, my, sky, deny, rely, villify, mystify,justify.

Y=Vowel (long E) End of words where the Y is not stressed: baby, stormy, comely, jelly 
Y=Vowel (short I) Odyssey

Words with EW combinations  have a Long U sound as in the word  "new"  
Examples:  knew, blew, stew, grew, drew, brew. slew, few, flew


Short OO sound as in:  cook, book, took, shook

Long OO sound as in: boot, shoot, hoot, moot, root,

         Words with OUGH and AUGH:With the exceptions of enough, tough,rough, and laugh, the GH is silent in words.  No particular rule applies to how words with "ough" are pronounced. You just have to memorize the sounds.

1. OU has a short U sound and the GH make an "f' sound:
enough (e nuf)
      tough (tuf)
      rough (ruf)
      laugh (laf)

2. GH is silent and OU has a long U sound:
 through (rhymes with threw)

3.  GH isSilent and OU has a Long O sound

4.  GH is silent and OU has an OW sound and rhymes with the word "now:"

GH is silent and OU has an "AW" sound as in law, saw:
thought, bought, ought,

6. GH is silent in the word: daughter

 S H O R T  V O W E L  S O U N D S    Words with the letters EA.

CVVC = Short Vowel Sounds

In some words, the rule of "when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking" does not apply. All the following have Short E sounds as in the word "bed":

        bread, sweat, lead, read, dread, stead

Note: when the EA is changed to EE, the E is long:

        breed, sweet, reed, steed


CVC = Consonant Vowel Consonant

The vowels are short in one-syllable words with one vowel between two consonants. Examples:
cat, hat, bad, rat, sad, bat, map, must, gum, gun, drum, slum, slid,hit, bit, did, stop, top, mop, bed, led, sled, red.

CVCC Consonant  Vowel  Consonant  Consonant
Vowels are short if followed by double consonants:  back, tuck, month,

Note: The long I sound in the word SIGN changes to short I sound in SIGNATURE  (sig na ture)
          The long I sound in the word FINITE changes to short I in INFINITE (in fi nite)

R-controlled vowels: It's important to remember that when pronouncing words with ar, er, ir, ur, and or, to not pronounce the vowel separate from the R. 

OR, IR, UR is pronounced  between a short "IR and ER"  in words such as work, world, *worm, word, girl, bird, whirl, shirt, furl, hurt,

AR: Vowel sound as in "father" in words: far, tar, mar, barley, car, scar, bard,

AR after a W as in WAR changes to an "AWR" sound such as in: warm, *ward,

Note:  *Worm, ward = different pronunciations.

1-1-1 RULE
  = one consonant, one vowel, one syllable words

Double the last letter in one-syllable words with a short vowel when adding a suffix to keep the short vowel sound. Otherwise, the vowel will be long and will be a different word.  VCV = long vowel sound  CVCC = short vowel

                                         Different words formed if you don't double the last consonant.
grip     gripping                       gripe    griping
cut      cutter                           cute     cuter
strip    stripper                        strip     striper
scrap   scrapper                      scrape  scraper
run      running
sun     sunny                        
stop    stopped
rip      ripped                         ripe, riper
dip     dipped
ship   shipped
trip    tripped
skip   skipped

Double the last letter in two -syllable words when the stress is on the last syllable and ends with a Vowel and Consonant:
Emit         emitted
remit        remitted
acquit       acquitted
annul        annulled

Do not double the last letter when the stress is not on the last syllable:
Cancel      canceled
travel       traveled
marvel     marveled

The Letter C sound rules

1. C has a K  or hard sound if it is followed by A, O, U, and K:

 cat, cash, coat, company, cut, cousin, cock, cat, cattle, coat, cold, come, cut, castle, corn, cap,neck, delicate,bellicose, stucco, loco, lock, stuck, muck, buck, jack, sack, black.

2. The letter C will have a soft sound or S sound if it is followed by E, I.
                            ceiling, cell, cement, scissors, cyst, deceive,

3. CIOUS, CIENT, CIENCE   The following words are spelled with an I after a C to keep the C soft, but the C sound changes to a "sh" sound.
If you omitted the "i" after the "c" in delicious, you would automatically pronounce the "c" like a "k" - delicous

delicious                            proficient
precious                            conscience

"TURE" at the end of words is pronounced "chur" as in church:


"TION" at the end of words is pronounced either "shun" or "chun"

CH                                                    SH

mention                                           station
caption                                            friction

The Letter D sounds like a  "J" sound when it is followed by a U.
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