ear as in hear

beard

blear

clear

dear

drear

ear

fear

gear

hear

near

rear

sear

shear

smear

spear

tear

year

appear

disappear

dreary

endear

reappear

weary

2 thoughts on “ear as in hear

  1. Stacey

    Hi there,

    I am wondering whether you’d call this pattern a trigraph or a digraph ending in r? I’ve found evidence of both but wanted to know what is grammatically correct for Australia. I also wondered if you’d call ough and augh a tetragraph/quadraph? I am wanting to use correct terms with my students but not sure what to use. Alternatively, would you just refer to these as letter patterns in a primary school context for the purpose of simplicity?

    Stacey.

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Stacey, I treat ‘ear’ and ‘air’ as three-letter spellings, but you’re right, they are really /ee/ plus schwa and /e/ plus schwa, so it’s possible to treat them as two sounds. That’s what books from America do, as they pronounce those final letter Rs as /r/, but we pronounce them as unstressed vowels. We have other vowel sounds that are diphthongs, meaning they involve movement from one vowel to another (/ae/ as in take, /ie/ as in time, /oe/ as in home), so I decided to treat ‘ear’ and ‘air’ as diphthongs represented by a single grapheme, whereas I treat combinations of three sounds like the ‘ire’ in fire, ‘our’ in sour and ‘ure’ in ‘pure’ as two separate sounds (a diphthong and a schwa). So the answer is, you could treat them as either, it depends how finely you want to slice sounds and letters, but I decided it was simpler in our accent to treat ‘ear’ and ‘air’ as separate sounds mostly represented by trigraphs (ear as in dear, eer as in beer, ier as in pier, ere as in here, and then air as in hair, are as in care, ere as in there, eir as in their, etc). I usually avoid terms like ‘trigraph’ and ‘quadgraph’ or ‘tetragraph’, some people have objections to them that are well-grounded in linguistics, and anyway for kids it’s just simpler to say ‘three-letter spelling’ and ‘four-letter spelling’. Hope that makes sense! Alison

      Reply

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