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The Seven Ways of Spelling the Long E Sound


If you struggle with spelling – you’re not alone. One of the reasons why English spelling is so difficult is because of how inconsistent it is. This week we’re looking at the long /e/ sound and the seven different ways of spelling it.

  1. Just the letter e
    In some cases, the long /e/ sound is spelled with just the letter e. This is usually the case in words that are more than one syllable long, but exceptions include some very common words like ‘me’, ‘be’, ‘we’, ‘he’, and ‘she’.

    This spelling of the long /e/ sound is used for prefixes ‘re-‘, ‘be-‘, and ‘de-‘.

    Here are some examples of long /e/ words spelled with just the letter e:

    • evening
    • emergency
    • become
    • between
    • decide
    • delight
    • recess
    • relax

    You can try spelling some e words here.

  2. EE words
    Many words spell the long /e/ sound with the letters ee. In these words, the long /e/ sound usually appears in the middle of the word and occasionally appears at the end of the word.

    Here are some examples of long /e/ words spelled with letters ee:

    • peel
    • creep
    • breeze
    • fourteen
    • speech
    • three
    • flee
    • agree
    • committee

You can try spelling some ee words here and here.

  1. EA words
    A very common way of spelling the long /e/ sound is with the letters ea.

    Here are some examples:

    • peach
    • dream
    • year
    • feast
    • breathe
    • squeak
    • reason
    • season

    You can try spelling some ea words here and here.

  2. E – E words
    Sometimes the long /e/ sound is spelled with an e in the middle of the word and an e at the end of the word. These words are normally (but not always!) more than one syllable long.

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

    • here
    • gene
    • these
    • theme
    • concrete
    • delete
    • severe
    • Portuguese

You can try spelling some e – e words here.

  1. Y words
    Often, at the end of a word, the long /e/ sound is spelled with the letter y. This sound is not always as strong as other long /e/ sounds.

Here are some examples of long /e/ words spelled with the letter y:

    • happy
    • cherry
    • glory
    • memory
    • twenty
    • family
    • smelly
    • empty

You can try spelling some y words here.

  1. IE Words

    The famous ‘i before e except after c’ spelling rule applies to long /e/ sounds.

    Here are some examples of long /e/ words spelled with the letters ie:

    • field
    • brief
    • shriek
    • fierce
    • achieve
    • mischief
    • diesel
    • relieved

    You can try spelling some ie words here.

  1. EI Words

    Since the ‘i before e’ spelling rule doesn’t apply after the letter c, some long /e/ sounds are spelled with the letters ei.

    Here are some examples of long /e/ words spelled with the letters ei:

    • ceiling
    • receipt
    • receive
    • deceive
    • conceive
    • perceive
    • conceit
    • deceit

    You can try spelling some ei words here.

If you’d like to learn more about spelling long /e/ sounds, have a look at Unit 7 and Unit 21 on our online spelling course. Have a good week!


05 Oct 2016
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