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

Why is it spelled...?

Why does sane have long [a], while sanity has short [a]?

One important shortening rule, the Third Syllable Rule, states that if primary stress falls on the third or fourth syllable from the end of word, the vowel in that syllable will be short, even if it is the first vowel in a VCV string. That is the case with sanity: The third syllable from the end is stressed, so its vowel is short. This Third Syllable Rule is most reliable with words adopted directly from Latin; it is less reliable with words that are formed in English, such as, say, fatefully, in which the third syllable from the end contains a long [a] (AES, 7.1-7.5).

But the suffix -ity, as in sanity, is involved in a more powerful case of the Third Syllable Rule— the Suffix -ity Rule, which states that the third or fourth syllable back in a word that ends -ity will always be short and will always be stressed. Thus, when -ity is added to words that end in an unstressed syllable, the stress will shift to that syllable: civil [|siv·schwal] vs. civility [si·|vil·i·te]. Since -ity is such a productive suffix, the Suffix -ity Rule is very powerful and useful (AES, 5.1--5.2.3).

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