You probably think that English is written with 26 letters.

Child playing with alphabet books
Young children can master the letters and sounds of English.

Well, it is and it isn’t. The English alphabet is made up of 26 letters, but the English language makes use of more than 40 speech sounds. As a result, the 26 letters must be used in various combinations to represent the extra sounds.

Different authorities give different totals for the spoken sounds of English. This site numbers the sounds of English at 46.

My main authority is The Writing Road to Reading by Romalda Spalding. I have altered some of the phonogram examples to account for changes that have occurred in American pronunciation since the book was first published.

The single letters of the alphabet

b, d, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, t, v, w, z

f, g, s, x

c, q(u), y

a, e, i, o, u

The rest of the alphabet

/ow/, /oi/, /aw/, /ar/, /or/

spellings of /er/

sh, wh, ch, th, ng, si

My spelling guide, 7 Steps to Good Spelling, describes the sounds and written symbols
of English. Content includes word lists, exercises, and descriptions of spelling conventions.

2 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *