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Six Ways to Spell the Long A Sound

One of the reasons why English spelling is so difficult to learn is because often the same sound is spelled in a variety of ways. Click here to read about the different ways to spell the long /e/ sound and here to read about the long /o/ sound.

Here are the six ways of spelling the long /a/ sound:

1) Just the Letter A

Some words spell the long /a/ sound with just the letter a.

Here are some example:

  • acorn
  • apron
  • alien
  • agent
  • basic
  • basin
  • data
  • fatal

2) A – E Words

Sometimes, to spell the long /a/ sound, you use an a in the middle of the word and an e at the end.

Here are some examples of long /a/ words spelled with an a in the middle of the word and an e at the end:

  • snake
  • game
  • elate
  • shave
  • grade
  • sale
  • amaze
  • grape

This spelling rule does not always apply to ate words where the a – e falls at the end of the word. For example, private, chocolate, and immediate are all pronounced with a weak /u/ sound.

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

3) AI Words

After a – e words, the next most common way of spelling the long /a/ sound is with the letters ai.

Here are some examples of the long/a/ sound spelled with the letters ai:

  • train
  • snail
  • wait
  • paint
  • compain
  • entail
  • aim
  • waist

Many longer words are spelled with ain at the end but are pronounced with a weak /u/ sound. Examples include: Britain, fountain, and villain.

You can practise spelling ai words here and here.

4) AY Words

At the end of a word, the long /a/ sound is spelled with the letters ay.

Here are some examples of long /a/ words spelled with the letter ay:

  • Sunday
  • play
  • always
  • betray
  • essay
  • display
  • delay
  • fray

There are some exceptions to this rule, such as: grey, prey, they, obey, convey, and survey. You can practise spelling ay words here, here, and here.

5) EI Words

A few words spell the long /a/ sound with the letters ei.

Here are some examples:

  • reins
  • veil -
  • weight
  • neigh
  • vein -
  • sheikh
  • eight
  • freight

You can practise spelling ei words here.

6) EA Words

In three words, the long /a/ sound is spelled with the letters ea:

  • break
  • great
  • steak

These three words are also homophones of a – e words (brake, grate, and stake).

If you’d like to learn more about spelling long /a/ sounds, have a look at Unit 7 on our online spelling course. Subscribe to Spellzone for extra tips and plenty of practice.

Have a good week!

21 Nov 2016
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