Spelling the long vowel sound /ā/: a-e, ai, ei, ay

homophones - learn to spell similar sounding words Homophones with the long /ā/ sound

If you confuse these words the computer spellchecker will not spot your mistake - so it is especially important to learn them.

made - done, built

maid - young woman, servant
I made that birthday card myself

The maid brought the tea on a tray.

male - man

mail - post

Male birds do not lay eggs.

The mail is late again today.

sail - on a boat

sale - act of selling
He sailed around the world single-handed.

I put a 'For Sale' sign in my old car.

mane - horse's hair

main - most important
Kate brushed her horse's mane.

We don't want to live near the main road.

plain - simple, not fancy

plane - airplane
Our dad prefers plain food to spicy.

The plane was delayed by fog.

lane - small road

lain - past tense of lay
Flowers grew at the side of the lane.

The body had lain there for weeks.

whale - the sea mammal

wail - crying noise or siren

Wales - part of Britain
The blue whale is the largest mammal.

The baby gave a loud wail.

Charles is the Prince of Wales.
Learning tip to help your spelling
A whale is heavy

Wails means cries.
words with long vowel sound a

pane - piece of glass

pain - hurt
The window had a broken pane.

I was in great pain after my fall.

waste - use more than you need

waist - middle of body
Don't waste your money on that ride.

I have lost weight around my waist.

vale - valley

veil - covering the face
There are many villages in the Vale of York.

The bride wore a long white veil.

shake - move about

sheik - Arab chief
(also 'sheikh')
The earthquake made the ground shake.

The sheik rode a beautiful horse.

wait - stay

weight - heaviness
Wait here until I get back.

To win the cake you must guess its weight.

way -
1) road
2) manner

weigh - measure weight

1) Which way shall we go?
2) I don't like the way you said that.

How much do you weigh?

wade - walk through water

weighed - past tense of weigh
We had to wade across the stream

Mum weighed out a kilo of flour.

slay - kill in battle

sleigh - sledge
Did St George slay a dragon?

The sleigh was pulled by reindeer.

ate - past tense of eat

eight - number 8
We ate far too much last night.

I get to work at eight o'clock.

gate - door in fence

gait - way of walking
Please close the garden gate.

That horse has a very odd gait.

pray - talk to God

prey - hunted animal
Muslims pray in a mosque.

The eagle preys on small animals.

vain -
1) admiring oneself
2) useless

vein - blood vessel

vane - weather-vane

1) Some pop stars are very vain.
2) He waited in vain for her to call.

The veins in my leg are swollen.

There is a weather-vane on top of the church.

rain - wet weather

reign - rule as king or queen

reins - to lead a horse
The heavy rain caused some flooding.

Queen Victoria reigned for 64 years.

Hold the reins lightly.

The last three homophones include some 'rule-breakers' from the last page:

grate -
1) shred
2) fireplace

1) large
2) very good

1) Grate some cheese to go in the sauce.
2) Clean out the ashes from the grate.

1) I paid a great deal of money for that.
2) Will he make a great President?

brake - slow down

break -
1) smash
2) gap, rest
I stood on the brakes to miss the cat.

1) Be careful not to break that glass.
2) We had a break half-way through the lesson

stake - post

steak - meat
The fence was made of wooden stakes.

They serve the best steak in town.

Spelling learning activities There are many homophones for the long /ā/ sound.
To remember them all:
1) Print this homophone page and file it.
2) Make up your own sentences for the tricky words.
3) Invent your own 'Learning Tips' where you need them.
4) Then try the homophones test which follows this Unit.

next part of the spelling course Go to the next part of this unit:
Spelling the long vowel sound /ē/

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Unit 7: Spelling the long vowel sounds

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"I ran the trial with a small group of students over three weeks before the summer holidays," she says. "I quickly saw the benefits, and signed up."

King's Leadership Academy, Warrington