Phonics: er, ir, ur, wor, ear, sh, ee, th

Welcome to the next section of the Phonic series.

From here on to the end of this series I will be presenting the combination syllables in order of most frequent usage. Note: this is frequent by American standards, if you are from a different country the frequency of usage might be different.

ER: Has four sounds

  • “er” as in: her, mother, better (unless the “er” is followed by a vowel, including y, then the e is pronounced like “eh” as in: very)
  • “ar” as in: sergent (exception)
  • Long “a” as in: foyer (exception)
  • Short “e” as in: concerto (exception)

IR: Has two sounds

  • “er” as in: first, bird, sir (unless the “ir” is followed by a vowel, including y, then the “i” is pronounced like “e” as in: spirit)
  • Long “e” as in: souvenir (exception)

UR: Has one sound

  • “er” as in: nurse, church, fury (unless the “ur” is followed by a vowel, including y, then the “u” is pronounced like “u” as in: fury)

WOR: Has three sounds

  • “wer” (“w” followed by “er”) as in: work, worship, worthy (typically the combination ‘wo’ at the beginning of words changes the ‘o’ to a ‘u’ sound, but the trailing ‘r’ is more powerful than the ‘wo’ and changes it to ‘wer’)
  • “wor” as in: worn, sworn (only these words)
  • Exception: were (sounds like “wer”)

EAR: Has four sounds

  • “er” as in: early, earth, learn
  • “ear” (emphasized “e”) as in: ear, fear, beard (both this and the following ‘air’ are actually made of two sounds: ‘ea’ followed by the ‘r.’ This is the odd time in which ‘r’ is actually not stronger than the vowel combination)
  • “air” (emphasized “a”) as in: wear, pear, bear (see just above)
  • “ar” as in: heart, hearken, hearth (exceptions)

This is the end of the common “er” combinations. Now a few extra combinations

SH: Has three sounds

  • Soft “sh” (what you hear when you get “shushed”) as in: sheep, wash, English (this combination can only be used at the beginning and end of English root words, and in the suffixes ‘-ship’ and ‘-ish’)
  • Harsh “sh” as in: marshall (exception)
  • Long “sh” as in: fashion, cushion (exceptions used in Latin based spelling)

EE: Has two sounds

  • “e” as in: eel, see, between (used mainly within root words, and occasionally at the end. Never at the beginning (technically not even in ‘eep’)
  • Short “i” as in: been, breeches (exceptions)

TH: Has three sounds

  • Soft “th” as in: thumb, think, birth (used only at the beginnings of nouns, verbs, adjectives)
  • Harsh “th” as in: this, Thou, these (made by a flick of the tongue against your upper teeth) (used at the beginning of “pointer words,” this/those/these/that, and when it appears between vowels)
  • Harsh “t” as in: Thomas, Thames, thyme (exceptions… Typically British words)

Next up: “a” combinations (with extras)!

 

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