Single Vowel Letters Representing Short and Long Sounds

One of the most basic English spelling rules has to do with the writing of short and long vowel sounds represented by the single vowel letters.

Short vowel sounds:

/a/ as in at

/e/ as in egg;

/i­/ as in igloo

/o/ as in hot

/u­/ as in umbrella

Long vowel sounds:

/A/ as in ape

/E/ as in Pete

/I/ as in ice

/O/ as in tote

/U/ as in uke

In reading, we know that the vowel letters in words like hat, met, Tim, bog, and mud stand for their short sounds because the rule tells us that a vowel between consonants stands for the short sound.

In writing, if we want to indicate a “long” vowel sound using a single vowel letter, we must add a silent e to the end of the word:
He wears a hat. (short a)
Don’t hate people. (long a)

Because this is such a basic rule, one can only wonder why so many Ebay sellers and bloggers mix up the words strip and stripe:

Cute lion doll wearing strips and spots
When you see someone wearing strips and checks together, first thoughts are they don’t own a mirror.

The word strip is pronounced with a short i.
The words stripe is pronounced with a long i.

A striped dress
A striped dress

A similar rule applies when the -ed forms of these words are used, a rule also broken by Ebay sellers and bloggers:

a stripped dress handmade from vintage fabric
It’s a black and white stripped dress from Forever 21

In order to keep the long i sound of stripe when adding –ed, the rule requires that we drop the e and add –ed: stripe becomes stripedA dress with stripes is a striped dress.

In order to keep the short i of strip when adding –ed, the rule requires us to double the final consonant before adding –edA runner who strips for a race is a stripped runner.


A stripped Greek runner
A stripped Greek runner


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