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Four Ways to Spell the Long U Sound


One of the reasons why English spelling is so difficult to learn is because, a lot of the time, the same sound is spelled in a variety of ways. In the past we’ve shared blog posts on how to spell the four other vowel sounds: the long /a/ sound, the long /e/ sound, the long /i/ sound, and the long /o/ sound – this week we’re finishing the series with how to spell the long /u/ sound.

The long /u/ sound is pronounced like the word ‘you’. Here are four ways of spelling it:

  1. Just the Letter U
    Some words spell the long /u/ sound with just the letter u. These words are usually more than one syllable long with the long /u/ sound in the first syllable.

    Here are some examples:
    • unicorn
    • union
    • university
    • utility
    • cupid
    • duty
    • future
    • human

  2. A – E Words
    Many words spell the long /u/ sound with a u in the middle of the word and an e at the end of the word.

    Here are some examples:
    • cute
    • mule
    • pure
    • tube
    • abuse
    • assume
    • capsule
    • fortune

You can practise spelling u – e words here and here.

  1. UE Words
    At the end of some words, the long /u/ sound is spelled with the letters ue.

    Here are some examples:
    • cue
    • due
    • hue
    • queue
    • argue
    • issue
    • value
    • barbeque

You can practise spelling ue words here.

  1. EW Words
    The long /u/ sound is spelled with the letters ew at the end of some words.

    Here are some examples:
    • brew
    • curfew
    • dew
    • nephew
    • new
    • phew
    • stew
    • view

    You can practise spelling ew words here.

There are a few homophones among words spelt with a long /u/ sound and you can read about them here. To help stop yourself from mixing these words up, click here for our top tips for learning spelling and here to learn how to create your own mnemonics. If you’d like to learn more about spelling the long /u/ sound, have a look at Unit 7 on our online spelling course. Subscribe to Spellzone for extra advice and plenty of practice.

Do you have any spelling or grammar rules you would like us to take a look at on the blog? Leave a comment, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook, and we’ll try and incorporate your suggestions into our future posts.

Have a good week!


07 Feb 2017
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