A site for spellers, teachers of spelling and reading, and students of english words
cummings, spell, spelling, english, words, spellers, teachers, reading, read, reader cummings, spell, spelling, english, words, spellers, teachers, reading, read, reader cummings, spell, spelling, english, words, spellers, teachers, reading, read, reader
cummings, spell, spelling, english, words, spellers, teachers, reading, read, reader cummings, spell, spelling, english, words, spellers, teachers, reading, read, reader
 
cummings, spell, spelling, english, words, spellers, teachers, reading, read, reader cummings, spell, spelling, english, words, spellers, teachers, reading, read, reader

Questions and Answers

>> Search questions and answers

Keyword or phrase:   
Topic: 
     or view all answers

Teaching tips

I need to teach my kids to spell the /gh/ and /ph/ sounds correctly. Could you help? Thanks, Sabrina

The following combines and revises somewhat the answers to earlier questions about <gh> and <ph>. It is long enough that I’ll have to take it in two bites:

(Bite 1) If the concern is using these two consonant digraphs to spell the sound [f], things are pretty straighforward:

The digraph <gh> spells the sound [f] only after short vowels spelled with a vowel digraph, the second letter of which is <u>: cough, enough, laughter, rough, tough, trough. It never spells [f] in either word-initial or element-initial position. And it only occurs in native English words.

The digraph <ph>, however, spells [f] in words borrowed from Greek and a few from Hebrew. Most often, <ph> spells the sound [f] in word-initial position: pharmacy, phase, pheasant, phlegm, phobia, phone, photo, phrase, physical. It often clusters with <s>: asphalt, asphyxiate, sphere, sphinx. In the middle of words it is often in element initial position: aphasia [a+phas+ia], cellophane cell+o+phane, diphthong [di+phthong, emphatic [em+phat+ic], microphone micr+o+phone, prophecy [pro+phec+y]. And finally, <ph>often spells [f] in the middle of elements: alphabet, catastrophe, decipher, gopher, nephew, orphan, pamphlet, typhoon, or at the end: telegraph, triumph, trophy, typhoid. In short, the <ph>spelling can pop up most anywhere in a word, but unlike <gh>, never after a short vowel spelled with a vowel digraph ending in the letter <u>. (In a few not-so-common words <ph> spells [f] after a digraph ending in <u>, but in each case, the vowel spelled by the digraph is long: dauphin and words with the prefix eu- meaning “good”: euphemism, euphony, euphoria,, etc.)

So summing up, the digraph <gh> only spells [f] after a short vowel spelled with a digraph ending in the letter <u> and never at the front of a word or element. But <ph> spells [f] in all positions, though usually at the front, and never after a short vowel spelled with a digraph ending in <u>. End of Bite 1

  cummings, spell, spelling, english, words, spellers, teachers, reading, read, reader
cummings, spell, spelling, english, words, spellers, teachers, reading, read, reader