Spelfabet

Learning the building blocks of words - sounds, their spellings, and word parts

SpellingAs in
acatlasttablewantall
 hangisofaanynaïve 
aabaa    
aarbazaar
a…ecamevillageThames(sesame) 
aesundaealgaemaestrohaemorrhage 
aeraeroplane    
ahgalahcheetahFahrenheitdahlia 
airainbonsaiplaitagain(mosaic)
aighstraight    
ailleVersailles    
airhair    
airemillionaire    
alhalfwalksalmon  
aoMaorigaol   
arfarmwarmscarcedollar(carol)
arecareare   
arrcharred    
aucautionfaultkauriauntmauve
 gauge    
audBenaud    
aughcaught    
aughaVaughan    
aulbaulk    
aultRenault    
aurdinosaur    
awsaw(away)   
aweawesome    
awylawyer    
aysayquaykayaksays 
ayeaye    
ayerprayer    
ayormayor    
bbib    
bbrubber    
bhBhutan    
btdebt    
bubuy    
ccatcellcelloappreciate 
çfaçade    
ccsoccerfocaccia   
cchzucchini    
cepiececrustacean   
chchipschoolchef  
chepanache    
cispecialciao   
ckduck    
cqacquit    
cquracquet    
ctindict    
ddidhopededucate  
ddadd    
deaide    
dgbudgie    
dgebridge    
dhjodhpurs    
disoldier    
djadjective    
dtLeichhardt    
eredmecaféentréeerupt
 Cheyenne    
e…ethesefetecreme fraiche  
easeaheadgreatSeanbream
 (idea)    
eahyeah    
earhearlearnbearheart 
eaubureaubureaucracybeauty  
edbaggedlocked   
eeseematinéebreeches  
eerbeer    
eiveinfeistyseizeleisurechow mein
 reveille    
eighweightheightLeigh  
eirtheir    
eoleopardpeopleyeomancheongsamMcLeod
 (neon)    
eouSeoul    
erherbutterzeroclerkmetier
 sombrero    
ereheretherewere  
errpreferredHerr   
erreguerre    
eufeudsleuthmilieuFreud 
eurposeur    
ewchewnewsew(rewrite) 
eychimneytheyReynoldCheyenneAnne Boleyn
eyeeye    
ffinof   
fecarafe    
ffoff    
ffegiraffe    
ftsoften    
ggotgelaubergineBundestag 
gelargebeigerenege  
ggbiggestsuggest   
ghghostcoughCallaghan  
giregion    
glimbroglio    
gmparadigm    
gnsignlasagna   
guguess(penguin)   
gueleague    
hhothour   
iinhiskioniontimbre
 lingerie    
iamarriageChiang Maidiamond  
i…etimesardine(recipe)  
iechiefpiefriendsievelingerie
 (alien)    
iertier    
ighhigh    
irbirdsouveniriron(pirate) 
irrstirred    
jjumpdeja vufjordjojobahallelujah
klook    
keBourke    
khkhakiKhomeini   
kktrekking    
knknit    
lleg    
lebattle    
llbelltortillascarillon  
llegrille    
mmet    
mblamb    
mbebombe    
megendarme    
mmsummer    
mmefemme    
mncolumnmnemonic   
nnotwink   
ñEl Niño    
necaffeine    
ngwingPekingese   
nnrunning    
nnejulienne    
ogotnofrontdooffend
 wolfwomenDostoevsky  
o…ehome(abalone)   
oaboatbroad   
oarroar    
oetoephoenixshoedoesGoethe
 (poem)    
ohdohJohnbohrium  
oicoincoiffure(stoic)  
oirboudoir choir   
oirearmoire    
olyolk    
oobootbookbloodbrooch(coopt)
oohpooh    
oorpoor    
ooreMoore    
orforwordtractor(forest) 
oremore    
ououtsoupjealouscousinsoul
 coughHoustonouija  
oughboughtdoughdroughtthroughthorough
 (rough)(cough)   
ouibouillon    
oulcould    
oupcoup    
ourfour(our)colourjournal 
owhowlowknowledge  
oweoweHowe   
oytoycoyote   
ppop    
pbcupboard    
petroupe    
phphoneStephen   
phthphthalates    
pnpneumonia    
pphopping    
ppesteppe    
pphsapphire    
pspsychologist    
ptreceipt    
qquitQantasQigong  
qu(quit)mosquito   
quecheque    
rrunsour   
recentre    
rhrhino    
rrhurry    
rrhcirrhosis    
ssetistreasuresugarchablis
scsciencefascismviscount  
scecoalesce    
schschnitzel(school)   
sciconscious    
sehorseplease   
shshop    
shicushion    
simansionversionbusiness  
ssfussdesserttissue  
ssemousse    
ssipassionbrassiere   
stcastle    
sthasthma    
swsword    
ttopnatureballetnegotiate 
tchcatch    
terouterighteous   
ththighthyThomas  
the(the)soothe   
timotionquestionequation  
tschkitsch    
ttrattle    
tteserviette    
ucupputflutunaquit
 burybusyassurance  
u…etunerude(museum)  
uebluecueBrueghel  
uisuitnuisance   
uofluoride    
urfur    
ure(cure)picturesure  
urrpurred    
vvanChekhov   
vegroove    
vvskivvy    
wwillWagner   
whwhenwhoWhakapapa  
wotwotwopence   
wrwrist    
x(fix)xylophoneexcellent(example)indexes
 (luxury)faux Don Quixote  
xe(axe)    
xi(anxious)    
yyesmybabygymYogyakarta
yebye    
y…etype    
yrmyrtle    
yrrhmyrrh    
zzippretzelNaziseizure 
zeooze    
zzbuzzpizza   

If the spelling you’re interested in doesn’t appear here, you might be thinking of a spelling that actually represents two or more sounds, not just one. Or it might be very obscure, in which case please tell me about it, and I will add it to these lists.

© Alison Clarke 2012

13 thoughts on “Sorted by spelling

  1. Alex

    Thanks for these vey helpful lists!

    Are patterns like ‘iou’ as in ‘spacious’ and ‘religious’ not listed because the ‘i’ is considered to be part of the previous consonant rather than part of a vowel spelling pattern?

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      You’re welcome! Yes, to my way of thinking, ci is quite a common spelling of the phoneme /sh/ in words with Latin suffixes, see http://www.spelfabet.com.au/spelling-lists/sorted-by-sound/sh/ci-as-in-facial), and gi is a less common spelling of /j/, see http://www.spelfabet.com.au/spelling-lists/sorted-by-sound/j/gi-as-in-region. These spellings often function to preserve the spelling of the base word as a recognisable morpheme e.g. music-musician, deficit-deficient, sacrilege-sacrilegious, litigate-litigious. Hope that makes sense and thanks for your feedback. Alison

      Reply
      1. Alex

        Thanks for the explanation! I’ve often been unsure of how to cover those common consonant + vowel combinations, but that’s a good point. Would you also break up the -tion suffix similarly (teaching it as ‘ti’ + ‘o’ + ‘n’)?

        One similar case: I was looking at words in which ‘d’ is pronounced /dʒ/ and it seems like almost all of them have the sequence ‘di’ and ‘du.’ I wonder if all the ‘d’>/dʒ/ were previously /di/ or /dj/ and then changed to /dʒ/.

        Reply
  2. Alex

    A couple other ideas for the list:
    – ‘mn’ as in ‘mnemonic’ for the /n/ sound
    – ‘th’ as in ‘posthumous’ for the /tʃ/ sound
    – ‘z’ as in ‘rendezvous’ or ‘chez’ for the silent z

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      I have ‘mn’ listed as a spelling of /n/ under my sorted-by-sound menu: http://www.spelfabet.com.au/spelling-lists/sorted-by-sound/n/, but as it’s the only word I know with this spelling, I didn’t set up a page for it, which is why it wasn’t on the sorted-by-sound menu, which I set up later to link to the sub-pages of the sorted-by-sound menu. I’ve added it now, thanks for pointing this out.

      Re: ‘posthumous’, the morphological structure is prefix ‘post’ plus ‘hum’ from Latin ‘humare’ meaning to bury, plus adjectival suffix ‘ous’, so it never occurred to me to think of the th as a digraph, very interesting. I think of the letter h as unpronounced, like in “hour”, “honour”, “exhume”, and heaps of other words, see http://www.spelfabet.com.au/spelling-lists/sorted-by-sound/no-sound/h-as-in-hour. I think of the next letter as u as in ‘unit’ reduced to a schwa (/jə/). I’m not sure there’s any spelling benefit to be had by slicing it as you suggest, but the /tʃ/ pronunciation is listed in my Oxford Aust English dictionary as an alternate, so I guess you could do that if you wanted to, and create a new phoneme-grapheme correspondence that is used in only one word. I’ve done my best to avoid this whenever I can, so if there are alternate pronunciations that fit my existing categories, I’ve gone with them. But I guess over time the /tjə/ pronunciation might fall out of use and I’ll have to rethink this.

      I have a menu under Sorted By Sound for mostly French-origin words with letters that aren’t pronounced like ballet, rendezvous, chablis, Grand Prix, etc, see http://www.spelfabet.com.au/spelling-lists/sorted-by-sound/no-sound

      So interesting to have feedback like this to give me a reason to check and fine-tune my lists, thanks so much for taking the time to send it. Alison

      Reply
      1. Alex

        Thanks for the response! I’d somehow never thought about where the word ‘posthumous’ came from, but that strange /tʃ/ makes a lot more sense to me now, I guess like, dropped medial /h/ and then /j/ assimilating to /ʃ/ to form /tʃ/. That grapheme>phoneme match looked strange to me, so I’m glad to see where it could’ve come from finally!

        This also makes me think about my general approach… I think my instinct is to just look at how the graphemes and phonemes could possibly be interpreted as lining up by a learner, ignoring structure, root words, etymology, etc. So, even though that ‘t’ and ‘h’ come from different parts of the word, a learner might see it and interpret it as the familiar ‘th’ digraph, and so I want to point it out as an exception to the usual ‘th’ sounds. Or another example, my instinct is to teach that while it’s more common to spell /i/ as ‘ee,’ it’s also possible to spell it ‘ee…e’ as in ‘cheese,’ even though that last ‘e’ is probably more accurately interpreted as part of the common word-final ‘se’ than as part of the vowel.

        But learning more about how literacy is taught, including here on your website, I’m thinking I can balance my approach more, and include more information about word roots, affixes, etc.. Sorry, a bit rambling, just interesting to think this all over!

        Reply
  3. Michelle

    Hi Alison,

    This is such a great list, thank you so much!! If there are 44 phonemes in English, how many graphemes would you say there are in English?
    Some references I have found say 250, but I feel like your list is even more comprehensive than that! 🙂

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      I’ve never actually done a count, it depends what you count and teach as a grapheme, and don’t forget that most graphemes relate to more than one phoneme (e.g. the ou in out, soup, cough, rough, soul). Not all graphemes need to be taught, as once kids know the main patterns and are using good strategies (saying the sounds as they write their spellings, especially, and saying words with funny spellings the way they are spelt), the outliers stand out and are easy to remember. If you count things that only occur in one common word, like the ‘au’ in ‘gauge’, the ‘oo’ in ‘brooch’ and the ‘aigh’ in ‘straight, there are probably over 300. But only about 200 occur in words that are important to beginners, and if your phonics curriculum covers 160 or 170 of those it’s doing really well. Words like ‘any’ and ‘many’ probably should just be taught as outliers rather than telling kids the letter A represents the sound /e/, as they’re almost the only words that matter like this. It’s when we DON’T tell kids which are the weird spellings, and they try to generalise from them, that they can run into lots of trouble. Hope that makes sense. Alison

      Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Good thinking, I’ve added it (and of course last year’s software upgrade meant all the formatting went out of whack and it was a world of pain to fix it, but that’s not your fault, that’s just blogging life!) Alison

      Reply
      1. Jack Downey

        Thanks for adding! Sorry to have caused any fuss! I think your website and your work is just fab and the best for teaching spelling! Keep up the good work!

        Reply

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