7 spelling-pronunciation rules for vowels

October 18, 2014 · by Coach Patrick · in Articles · Leave a comment
If you ever studied or have been studying English for a while, you must know how irritating and
exasperating English spelling (and therefore pronunciation) can be. It’s messy, chaotic and nightmarish
for many English learners. “NO FRIGGIN’ RULES” most of you complain right? And you’re right.
Well, almost right. There are some rules, but more exceptions. Now, how does that affect you, the
learner? Well, duhh! It obviously affects your spelling and pronunciation. What that means is that it
impacts your writing and speaking (but also reading and listening) dramatically.

How does it affect writing?
Think about it. As you sit down and attempt to write, unless you have a superhuman ability to remember
the shape of hundreds and thousands of English words (assuming you have that word in your
vocabulary), you are going to try to work out the spelling of a word by sounding it out (pronouncing it).
With so many exceptions and a few rules, you are very likely to choose the wrong letters or combination
of letters to represent the sound. For example, you’re thinking to write the word “pray”, and you’re
sounding it out as p-r-eɪ but then you soon realize that you’re faced with a few options to spell vowel /eɪ/
right? Vowel /eɪ/ can be spelled as “a” as in [late], “ey” as in [prey], “ai” as in [bait], and of course “ay”
as in [pray].

How does it affect pronunciation?
Now, you have another hurdle. You do remember the shape of the word, you know the spelling! Let’s
use the same example. You want to say the word “pray” and you do remember how it’s written but you
also heard letter [a] pronounced as /æ/ in [last], as /eɪ/ in [date], as /ɑː/ in [awe], and even as /e:/ in
[aeroplane]! Which one would you go for? You would probably try to recall other words with similar
spellings such as [say] and [day] which could be more familiar, and that’s great but unfortunately,
oftentimes, you don’t get that lucky. The result is a mess. Many languages like Spanish, Italian and
Portuguese are spoken as written. What you see is what you get, so to speak. No gamble.

The 7 spelling-pronunciation rules for vowels
Assuming that you know what vowels are and you have some idea of what that’s all about, let me tell
you what you’re about to learn from this article, just in case for a strange reason, the title wasn’t clear
enough for you. You’re going to learn 7 rules of pronunciation based on spelling. Let me rephrase!
You’re going to learn 7 rules to help you figure out how to say a word just by looking at spelling.
Here we go.

Rule 1-One vowel letter in one-syllable words ending with a consonant
letter(s)
Those vowels are normally short and very often pronounced as follows:

the e is often silent and the first vowel is long. He=hi: She=ʃi: no=noʊ Rule 3-Two vowel-letters one of which is e at the end of a 1-syllable word In that case.letter a act=ækt fan=fæn ant=ænt cab=kæb App=æp letter u fun=fʌn buck=bʌk bluff=blʌf cut=kʌt sum=sʌm letter i if=ɪf mint=mɪnt pick=pɪk inn=ɪn big=bɪg letter e end=end quest=kwest kept=kept ten=ten gem=dʒem Rule 2-One vowel alone at the end of a 1-word syllable Those vowels are usually long. main=meɪn tea=ti: feet=fi:t Rule 5-1 vowel-letter followed by 2 identical consonants Those are usually short vowels winner=wɪnɚ upper=ʌpɚ muffin=mʌfən full=fʊl Rule 6-2 identical vowels in a row (often [ee] and sometimes oo) Those are long vowels sheet=ʃiːt meet=miːt noodle=nuːdəl fool=fuːl Rule 7-The double [oo] vowel . ate=eɪt date=deɪt side=saɪd pole=poʊl Rule 4-Two vowel-letters next to each other in 1-syllable words Those are usually long vowels.

there are plenty of exceptions room=ruːm tool=tuːᵊl pool=puːᵊl moon=muːn book=bʊk hook=hʊk foot=fʊt (but not boot=buːt. but hey. shoot=ʃuːt) door=dɔːr blood=blʌd I know I’ve just made your life harder and you must loathe me now. you know something you didn’t know before right? That’s the idea.That one makes different sounds (sorry). . but generally it’s a long vowel before a voiced consonant and short before a voiceless one but as you will see. at least.