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The English Alphabetic Code

simple code complex code

units of graphemes
sound in key words graphemes, or spelling alternatives which are code for the sounds
phoneme/s with key pictures

/s/ s -ss -ce -se ce ci cy sc -st-

snake glass palace house cents city bicycle scissors castle

/a/ a /s/ ps
apple pseudonym

/t/ t -tt -ed -ed -ed

tent letter skipped debt pterodactyl

/i/ i -y
insect cymbals
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/p/ p -pp
pan puppet

/n/ n -nn kn gn -ine

net bonnet knot gnome engine

/k/ c k -ck ch qu que

cat kit duck chameleon bouquet plaque

/e/ e ea ai
egg head said

/h/ h
hat who

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/r/ r -rr wr rh
rat arrow write rhinoceros

/m/ m mm -mb -mn -me

map hammer thumb columns welcome

/d/ d -dd -ed

dig puddle rained

/g/ g -gg gu gh gue

girl juggle guitar ghost catalogue

/o/ o wa qua alt

octopus watch qualify salt

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/u/ u o -ou -ough
umbrella son touch thoroughfare

/l/ l -ll
ladder shell

/ul/ -le -il -al -el

kettle pencil hospital camel

/f/ f -ff ph -gh

feathers cliff photograph laugh

/b/ b -bb bu
bat rabbit buildings

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/j/ j -ge ge gi gy dge
jug cabbage gerbil giraffe gymnast fridge

/y/ y

/ai/ ai ay a ae a-e -ey eigh -ea

aid tray table sundae cakes prey eight break

/w/ w wh /ai/ _____

web wheel penguin straight

/oa/ oa ow o oe o-e -o eau

oak bow piano oboe rope dough plateau

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/igh/ -igh -ie i -y i-e ei ei
tie night behind fly bike eider eye

/ee/ ee ea e -y e-e key chief -ine

eel eat emu *sunny concrete *monkey *movie sardines

/or/ or aw au al oar oor ore our

or /aw/ fork dawn sauce chalk oars door snore four
on regional
or national
war quar augh ough au
accents wardrobe quarter caught thought water

/z/ z -zz -s -se -ze

zebra jazz fries cheese breeze

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/ng/ -ng -n /ngk/ -nk -
gong jungle ink uncle

/v/ v -ve
violin dove

/oo/ oo oul
book should push wolf

/oo/ oo -ue u-e -ew -ui -ou -o ough

moon blue flute crew fruit soup move through

/ks/ -x -ks -kes -cks /gz/ -x

fox books cakes ducks exam pegs

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/ch/ ch -tch /chu/ ture
chairs patch picture

/sh/ sh ch -ti -ci -ssi

sheep chef station magician admission
unvoiced voiced

/th/ thistle th
/th/ there
/kw/ qu
queen awkward

/ou/ ou ow -o
ouch owl plough

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/oi/ oi oy
ointment toy
/yoo/ -ue u u-e ew eu
statue unicorn tube new pneumatic

/er/ er ir ur ear wor

mermaid birthday nurse earth world

/er/ -our -re

or /u/ mixer humour theatre collar sailor

/ar/ ar a alm alf alv

artist father palm half calves

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This chart is not
/air/ air are ear ere definitive. You may
discover further code –
add this to the chart
hair hare bear where and/or main display wall.

/eer/ eer ear ere ier Hollow letters alert the

reader to various possible
deer ears adhere cashier

/zh/ -si -s -z -g -ge

television treasure azure courgette collage
*-y, *-ey, *-ie as word endings are often pronounced between /i/ and /ee/. On this chart examples appear in the /ee/ row.

The complexities of the English Alphabetic Code include:

1. one sound (phoneme) can be represented by one, two, three or four letters: e.g. /k/ k, /f/ ph, /igh/ igh, /ai/ eigh
2. one sound can be represented by different spellings (graphemes): e.g. /oa/ is represented by: o, oa, ow, oe, o-e, eau, ough
3. one spelling can represent multiple sounds: e.g. ‘ough’: /oa/ though, /or/ thought, /oo/ through, /ou/ plough, /u/ thorough

Key to the 12 units of Debbie Hepplewhite’s Phonics International online synthetic phonics programme:
units1-5 Simple code with some spelling alternatives 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
6-12 /air/, /eer/, /zh/, split digraphs, complex code 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th
Debbie’s programme introduces a simple code of at least one letter/s-sound correspondence for each of the 44+ sounds of speech of the English language.
The programme then expands to teach further spelling and pronunciation variations, or alternatives, of the complex Alphabetic Code.

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