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Basic Phonics Rules – Looking for the Top 10 Phonics Rules? Well, here’s the Top 20 Phonics Rules!

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Top 20 Basic Phonics Rules

1.  Every word should be approached from the farthest left side of the word not from the middle of the word or from the end of the word.

2. Every word should be sounded out beginning from the left end of the word and sounded all the way through the word to the right end of the word.

3. Every word must include at least one vowel.  The vowels are: a, e, I, o, u, and sometimes y. (Examples of words where y acts as the vowel are: my, fly)

4. When a word has only one vowel and more than two letters, the vowel is short.  (Examples: mat, bend, rip, dock, fast)

5. When a word ends with a silent “e,” the vowel that comes before the silent “e” will be long. (Examples:  make, Pete, Mike, note, rule)

6. When a syllable has 2 vowels together, the first vowel is usually long and the second vowel is silent. (Examples:  train, beat, boat, true)  NOTE: Diphthongs do not follow this rule.  Click here to see more about “diphthongs.”

7. When the letter “u” says its long sound, it can either say “you” as in “mule” or “oo” as in rule.

8. The letter “q” always has to be accompanied with the letter “u.” (Examples:  quack, quake, quick)

9. When two consonants appear together and can be blended together, they are called a digraph.  (Examples:  train, brick, pray) Note:  A trigraph is a phoneme which consists of three consonant letters that can be blended. However, many people will simply use the term ‘digraph’ when speaking about a trigraph.  (Examples:  “scr” in scrape or “str” in stream)

10. When 2 consonants join together and form one new sound, they are called “consonant digraphs.”  A “consonant digraph” is counted in phonics as just representing just one sound.  (Examples:  chain, thimble, phone, whale, ship)

11. The letter “wa” – when the letter “a” is NOT long, it can either say “wa” as in “water” or “wa” as in “wag.”

12. When the letter “w” comes before “or“, the “or” says “r-r-r.” (Examples:  word, work, worth)  Note – an exception to this rule is the word “sword” where the letter “w” is silent.)

13. When the letter “g” is followed by an “e, i, or y,” it usually says its soft sound of “j.”  (Examples:  gem, gym, giant)

14. When the letter “c” is followed by an “e, i, or y,” it usually says its soft sound of “s.” (Examples:  cent, city, center)

15. When a word contains only two or three letters and the last letter is a vowel, the vowel is often long.  (Examples:  be, she, me)  Note:  An exception to this rule would be the words “do” and “to.”

16. Often a vowel will say the schwa sound.  The schwa sound is when a vowel is pronounced “uh” instead of with its short sound.  (Examples:  Letter “o” says “uh” in mo/ther; Letter “o” says “uh” in sel/dom; the first  “o” says “uh” in oc/ca/sion)

17. When a syllable only has one vowel and that vowel is the last letter in the syllable, that vowel is usually long. (Examples:  o/pen,   u/nite,   la/ter,   lo/cate) Note: An exception to this rule would be a word like mo/ther where the vowel says the schwa sound of  “uh.”

18. Often the letter “a” says the schwa sound of “uh.”  (Examples:  a/head,   ba/na/na,   a/lert,   Chi/na.)

19. When a vowel appears together with the letter “r” its sound changes into an r controlled” vowel.  (Examples:  bark, fork, worth, birth)

20.The letter combinations of “ur,” “ir,” “ar,” “or,” and “er,” often say the “r-r-r” sound, especially if they appear at the end of word.  (Examples: nurse, bird, verse, dollar, director, rather, doctor)


These “Top 20 Phonics Rules” have been supplied by Carol Kay, President of Candy 4WAY Phonics

For those looking for a COMPLETE and affordable Phonics First Curriculum, the Candy 4WAY Phonics Program sells for just $9.97 

Candy 4WAY Phonics is a step-by-step, daily lesson systematic phonics curriculum that incorporates all of the above phonics rules.  This easy-to-use, fun phonics curriculum includes: 

* 100 Daily, Step-by-step Systematic Phonics Lessons

* 20 Sequenced, leveled Phonics Readers,

* Lifetime Rhyming Phonics Charts

* Rhyming Phonics Flashcards

* Multisensory Helps

* Built-in Spelling Rules

* Continuous Phonics Drill and Review

* FREE Email Coaching.


Candy 4WAY Phonics is a systematic phonics first program based upon the TRUE STORY of a little girl named Candy who learned to read in the 1950’s. Little Candy couldn’t read; then she could — thanks to Systematic 4WAY Phonics!