Spelling the long vowel sound /ā/: a-e, ai, ei, ay
Rule Breakers - these words break spelling rules

Three words use ea to spell the long /ā/ sound:
break -
1) smash
2) gap, rest

Be careful not to break that glass.
We had a break half-way through the lesson.
great - large, very good I think he would make a great President.
steak - cut of meat They serve the best steak in town.
These 3 words are also in the homophones section on the next page.

Many longer words end in the -ain pattern but do NOT have the long /ā/ sound. Instead, the vowel sound here is the weak 'schwa' sound, a bit like a like a soft /ŭ/ sound:
Britain In Britain, some spellings are different from the USA.
captain The captain of the plane sits on the right.
certain Are you certain you paid that bill?
curtain Close the curtains then switch on the light.
bargain My new camera was a real bargain.
fountain Someone has thrown money in the fountain.
mountain The only snow is at the top of the mountain.
villain The film's hero killed the villain.

Many longer words end in the -ate pattern but do NOT have the long /ā/ sound. Instead, the vowel sound here is the weak 'schwa' sound, a bit like a soft /ŭ/ sound:
private Do not read my private mail.
chocolate I ate too much chocolate.
immediate Please give this task your immediate attention.

 

next part of the spelling course Go to next page:
Homophones for long /ā/ words


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Unit 7: Spelling the long vowel sounds

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