15 Phonics Rules for Reading and Spelling Success

Mon, 03 May by Kunal

phonics rules

Basic phonics rules help children to read, write and speak English. When children begin to read, they learn to connect the sound of the words to the sound represented by the letters in words. Phonics rules for kids help them make these connections.

Phonics rules and exceptions also teach spelling patterns and spelling rules. It teaches them to break the word into smaller chunks called syllables. Thus, making it easier for them to read and spell. Teach these 15 basic phonics rules to make your child a competent and confident reader and speller.

15 Phonics Rules for Reading and Spelling

  • Vowels in syllables

    There’s at least one vowel sound in every syllable of every word.
    • It can be in the middle of consonants. Examples: cat, jet, church, and fan– as–tic
    • Also, it can be a standalone in a syllable. Examples: an–i–mal and u–nit.
  • Short and long vowels

    Vowels can make different sounds depending on where they are placed in a word. 
    • If a consonant is after the vowel, the vowel usually makes a short sound. Examples: chop, cat, and ship. 
    • In absence of a consonant, the vowel usually makes a long sound. Examples: to, so, we, and be. 
    • If there is only one vowel in a syllable that is followed by at least one consonant, the vowel is likely to make a short sound. This is called a “closed syllable” because the consonant “closes in” the short vowel sound. Examples: itch, Sep–tem–ber, mas–cot, pump–kin, prin –cess, and Wis– con– sin. 
    • If there is only one vowel at the end of a syllable, it’s likely to make a long sound, and this pattern is called an “open syllable.” Examples: he, ban– jo, man–go, above, so, to, we, and bin-go.
  • Digraphs and consonant blends

    Digraph describes two letters that represent one sound. 
    • In a two-consonant digraph, the two consonants make a new sound. Examples: ship, chap, thin, photo, and whiz. 
    • When two or more consonants work together, consonant blends are formed. But unlike diagraphs, even though they are blended together, their individual sounds can be heard. Examples: grasp, clam, and scrub.
  • Two-vowels together

    • When two vowels are side by side, the first vowel makes a long sound, similar to the sound of the letter, while the second vowel remains silent. Examples: seat, beach, meat, boat, rain, plain, paint, road, goat, pie, and lie.
    • However, sometimes, two vowels work together to make a new sound, and it’s called a diphthong. Examples: boil and cloud.
  • The schwa sound

    The schwa sound is the most common sound in the English language. Any vowel can make the sound.
    • The “schwa” sound is a weak uh or ih sound. Examples: from and final.
    • However, there are words with more than one schwa sound. Examples: banana and apartment.
  • Silent e

    If the word has a single vowel with a consonant and an e at the end, then the e is silent, and the single vowel is a long sound. Examples: sale, mole, in–side, cute, wrote, mate. This pattern is called  “silent e,” “vowel-consonant-e,” or “magic e.”
  • Bossy R

    When r follows the vowel in a syllable, the vowel is “controlled” by the r and makes a completely new sound. Examples: bird, car, form, germ and hurt. Since r bosses over the vowel to make a new sound, this rule is also called “bossy r.”
  • The f,s,z,l rule

    If a one-syllable word ends with the letters f, s, z, and l, it is usually doubled immediately following a short vowel. Examples: grass, stuff, shell, and fuzz. Exceptions: bus and quiz.
  • Soft g and Hard g. Soft c and Hard c

    • When the letter g is followed by the vowels e, i, or y, it makes a soft sound. Examples: giant, gel, and gym. With other vowels, the letter g makes a hard sound. Examples: gorilla, gas, and yogurt.
    • When the letter c is followed by vowels e, i, or y, it makes a soft sound. Examples: circus, cent, and cyclone. However, with other vowels, the letter c makes a hard sound. Examples: cot, and cat.
  • The /ch/ and /j/ sound

    When a /ch/ sound in a one-syllable word immediately follows a short vowel, it’s spelt as tch. Examples fetch, catch, blotch, stitch, and clutch. Exceptions: which, such, rich and much.

    when a /j/ sound in a one-syllable word immediately follows a short vowel, it’s spelt dge. The d in the word protects the vowel from the “magic e” rule. Examples: badge, dodge, bridge, hedge, and smudge.
  • Ending in ck or k

    • If the /k/ sound follows a consonant, long vowel sound, or diphthong, it’s usually spelt with k. Examples: cake, task, hawk, and soak.
    • If a one-syllable word ends with the /k/ sound immediately following a short vowel, it’s spelt with ck. Examples: trick, and duck.
  • Doubling

    When the word has only one syllable like win, where the short vowel is followed by a consonant, the consonant is doubled and then the suffix beginning with a vowel is added. Examples: winning, winner, winnable
  • Drop the e with ing

    If the word ends with a silent e, drop the e and then add ing. Examples: give/giving, bike/biking, dodge/dodging.

    Also, other suffixes that start with vowels, like ed, er, able, and ous take up this rule. Examples: excite/excitable, grieve/grievous, hope/hoped.
  • Y rules

    • To make a word plural that has a consonant that is immediately followed by y, the y changes to i, and then it adds es. Examples: pony/ponies, family/families, beauty/beauties, and treaty/treaties.
    • To make a plural word that ends in a vowel immediately followed by y, just add s. Examples: boy/boys
    The same y rules are followed for suffixes.
    • If the suffix starts with i, keep the y as it is and then add the suffix. Examples: baby/babyish, fly/flying.
    • If the word ends with a consonant followed immediately by y, the y changes to i before adding suffixes like ed and est. Examples: carry/carried, bury/buried, and happy/happiest.
    • If there is a vowel before y, keep the y as it is and then add the suffix. Examples: annoy/annoying, and play/playing.
  • Plurals

    • Most words are made plural by adding s to them. Examples: dog/dogs, coin/coins.
    • However, when a singular word ends with s, x, z, sh or ch, it is made plural by adding es to it. Examples: glasses, brushes, classes, foxes.

PlanetSpark makes the world of words come alive with interactive questions and fun visuals. Help your child master the magic of phonics. Enroll now.

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