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Unique Letter Combinations & Situations

Working on Special Sounds

These unique sounds are usually best brought up and taught when a student runs into a word with such a sound and asks about it.  Students often like if you can provide a reason (for example most silent letters are from ancient Greeks who also gave us much of our scientific words, and the French gave us the soft sounds for the c and g).  Most importantly though, is to provide more words that fit the pattern so the pattern can be learned.  It is helpful to have students highlight the targeted sound to train their brains to recognize and identify the letter combination automatically.  The following explanations and links will help with this.

Qu – q is always followed by a u: Since the queen broke her leg, the u carries her around in a wheelbarrow.  When the u is carrying the queen around it can’t do anything else (like make a sound or help another vowel) so qu is treated as a single consonant.
qu Word List *with help reading look-alike words quite, quit, and quiet.

2 sounds of C: c says /k/ or /s/  
The letter c says the /k/ sound.  However, when it is followed by an e, i, or y it says the /s/ sound.  (Examples: city, cycle and cent).  We can thank the French for this softening of the c sound.
2 sounds of c poster
Beginning 2 sounds of c word list
2 sounds of c word lists by sound
2 sounds of c sentences
2 sounds of c advanced list
Soft c word game Ice is Nice
2 sounds of c word game Fancy Stars
Soft c small book At The Circus
Soft c small book At the Circus horizontal format
Soft c small book Bruce and Nancy Miss the Dance horizontal format

2 Sounds of G: g says /g/ or /j/
The letter g says the /g/ sound.  However, when it is followed by an e, i, or y it usually says the /j/ sound.  (Examples: giant, gym and gentle).  We can thank the French for this softening of the g sound.
2 sounds of g poster
Beginning 2 sounds for g word list
2 sounds of g word list and story
2 sounds of g wordlist by sound
Soft g sound word game Gentle Giraffe
Soft g drawing activity George the Gigantic Gorilla

y at the end of words:
y Says Long i at the End of One Syllable Words
y Says Long e at the End of Multiple Syllable Words
y Teaching Video also on the Open & Closed Syllable page

-ng, -nk sounds: The /n/ sound moves to the back of your mouth when paired with g and k.  Watch for the long vowel cheater chunks -ang and -ank.
-ng Word List
-nk Word List

Use -dge after a short vowel. Since we do not end words in j, we need to use the soft sound of g, spelled ge to make the /j/ sound at the end of a word. In order to keep the e away from a short vowel, a d is added instead of doubling the letter. (If the g was doubled, the first g would say the /g/ sound since it is followed by another g.)
-dge word and phrase list.

Use -tch after a short vowel. Exceptions: much, such, rich, detach/attach, sandwich, spinach, ostrich.
-tch word and phrase list

kn says /k/:
Up until the 1500 we pronounced the k in kn words like knee and knife. Apparently it is just too hard for us to do that anymore!
kn Word List with endings.  (This is a great list to use to reinforce what various endings mean and how they are asses to words.  Also this helps student learn to recognize the base word.)

gh says:
/g/ as in ‘ghost’ at the beginning of syllables (and words).
/f/ as in ‘laugh’, or /-/ (is not pronounced at all) as in ‘plough’ or ‘night’ in the middle or end of syllables (and words).
(*gh used to be pronounced like the end of the interjection of disgust “blech,” a back of the throat fricative. Though this sound is still found in German, English gradually moved away from this difficult sound. In Italian gh is pronounced /g/ hence unchanged Italian words like spaghetti and ghetto continue to be spelled with gh.)

Why is there an e at the end of this word?
There are a few reasons that explain the e at the end of words like horse, nerve, dodge etc.

ph says /f/ as in phone:
We can thank the Greeks for this letter combination.
ph Word List

Diagraphs- gn kn ph wr mb mn 
Mixed list.

tr, not chr 
Students often hear /tr/ as /chr/.  It is easy to know how this sound is spelled because it is always tr.   When chr is in a word, it is pronounced as /kr/ as is chrome, chronicle and chrysalis.
tr, (not chr) wordlist to help reinforce that that sound at the beginning of train and truck is /tr/.

-ought says /awt/
ought wordlist

x or cks?
Max vs. chicks.  Click here to learn when we use a letter x to spell the sound /cks/ and when we use the letters cks.

Sometimes we shove 2 words together and use an an apostrophe to show where we took out the letter(s). “Is not” can also be “isn’t.”
Bundle: Contractions Lesson and 4 Games
Contractions PowerPoint
Contractions flashcards: Match the contraction to the words spelled out.

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