A Review of Common Phonic Generalizations
Consonant speech sounds are formed by modifying or obstructing the stream of vocal
sound with the organs of speech (lips, tongue, etc.). Consonant sounds are relatively
consistent and have a regular grapheme /phoneme relationship. They include: b, d, f,
h, j, k, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, etc.
Consonants „c‟ and „g‟
Hard „c‟ pronounced like „k‟ when followed by a, o, u (cop, cat, cup). Usually 100%
Soft „c‟ pronounced like „s‟ when followed by i, e, y (city, cent, cyst). Usually 96%
Hard „g‟ when followed by a, o, u (go, gate, gum). Usually
Soft „g‟ when followed by i, e, pronounced like “j” (gentle, gym).
A combination of two or three consonants blended in such a way that each letter in the
blend keeps its own identity: bl, sl, cl, fl, gl, br, cr, dr, fr, gr, pr, tr, sk, sl, sw, sn, spl, spr,
str, scr, nk.
A combination of two consonants representing one phoneme or speech sound that is
not a blend of the two letters: sh, ch, wh, ph, gh, th.
Silent consonants are those which, when combined with specific other letters, are not
pronounced. In the examples below, the silent consonants are the ones enclosed in
parentheses, and the letters shown with them are the specific letters that cause them to
be silent in combination. (There are exceptions, however.)
i (gh) sight, Bright 100%
m (b) comb, lamb
(w) r wren, Wrong 100%
(l) k talk, walk
(k) n knew, Knife 100%
s (t) listen, hasten
f (t) soften, often
The vowels of the alphabet are the letters a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y and w. There is
generally no obstruction of the vocal sound.
Short Vowels: a, e, I, o, u (and sometimes y)
A single vowel in a medial position usually has the short vowel sound: consonant,
vowel, consonant (CVC) – pat, sad, led, sit, pot, cut.
Long Vowels: a, e, i, o, u (and sometimes y)
The long vowel sounds the same as the alphabet letter name of the vowel – go, cake,
ice, no, uniform.
Double Vowels: Vowel Digraph
Frequently, when two vowels are adjacent, the first vowel has the long sound while the
second is silent – tie, coat, rain, eat, crow, Recent research has shown this
generalization to hold .true about 45-40% of the time.
In words with a vowel – consonant--e pattern (VCe), the vowel frequently has the long
sound while the 'e' is silent –make, Pete, slide, hope, cube. Research has shown this
generalization to hold true about 60% of the time.
Vowels – Modified – by „r‟
Vowels followed by the letter 'r' are neither long nor short, but the sound is modified by
the letter 'r' -- star, her, stir, horn, fur. This holds true about 85% of the time.
Two adjacent printed symbols representing two vowels, each of which contributes to a
blended or glided speech sound -- house, oil, joy, cow, few.
Number of Syllables
There are as many syllables in a word as there are vowel sounds heard – bruise (1syllable),
beautiful (3 syllables).
Two Consonants (VC--CV)
If the initial vowel is followed by two consonants, divide the word between the two
consonants – let–ter, mar–ket, con–tract. This holds true about 80% of the time.
Single Consonant (V–CV)
If the initial vowel is followed by one consonant, the consonant usually begins the
second syllable – mo–tor, stu–dent, na–tion. There are many exceptions, but this
generalization holds true about 50% of the time.
Consonant – le (C–le) Endings
If a word ends in 'le' the consonant preceding the 'le‟ begins the last syllable – ta–ble,
pur–ple, han–dle. This generalization holds true about 95% of the time.
Consonant Blends and Consonant Digraphs
Consonant blends and digraphs are not divided in separating a word into syllables –
teach–er, graph–ic, de–scribe. This holds true 100% of the time.
Prefixes and Suffixes
Prefixes and suffixes usually form a separate syllable -- re--plac–ing, dis–ap--point–
ment. Some words ending in 'ed' are exceptions – tamed, asked, crazed.
Open and Closed Syllables
Syllables that end with a consonant are closed syllables and the vowel is short – let--ter,
Syllables that end with a vowel are open syllables and the vowel is long – ta--ble,
The 'y' Sound in Words
When the 'y' is the final sound in a one–syllable word, it usually has the sound
of a long 'I‟ – cry, ply, my. When the „y‟ is the final sound of a multi-syllable
word, it usually has the long „e‟ sound – funny, lady.
When the „y‟ is in the medial position, is usually has the short „I‟ sound – gym,