Spelling words as they sound

Phonological Awareness | Reading Rockets

Who can understand all the jargon that's being tossed around in education these days? Why is there a word for everything, and why do they have to be so confusing? Consider all the similar terms that have to do with the sounds of spoken words — phonics, phonetic spelling, phoneme awareness, phonological awareness, and phonology. All of the words share the same "phon" root, so they are easy to confuse, but they are definitely different, and each, in its way, is very important in reading education.


Thanks to the popular "Hooked on Phonics" television commercials everybody has heard of phonics, but not everybody knows what it is. Phonics is a method of teaching that emphasizes letter-sound relationships. Children are taught, for example, that the letter N represents the sound /n/, and that it is the first letter in words such as nose, nice and new.

In addition, and this is something that most people don't think about when they think of phonics, children are explicitly taught the English spelling–sound "rules. " Children are taught things like "when two vowels go walkin' the first does the talkin'" and "when a word ends in a silent-e, the first vowel sound is long." Since no letter in English, except for the letter V consistently corresponds to a single sound, these rules are quite complex. Nose, nice, and new all start with the letter N, but gnu, knife, and pneumonia certainly do not. There are spelling and pronunciation rules, and then there are exceptions to the rules, and teachers who use the phonics approach try to formally and explicitly teach both.

For the purpose of discussion here, there are two important things to remember about phonics. First and foremost, phonics is an instructional strategy — a method of teaching children to read. Second, phonics has to do with teaching the relationships between the sounds in speech and the letters of the alphabet (both written and spoken). Typically, when somebody is talking about teaching children the "spelling–sound" relationships (or to use some of that psycho-babble ed-speak, the "grapho-phonemic" relationships), they are talking about teaching some form of phonics.

Phonetic spelling or reading

This is a concept which is related to phonics, but unlike phonics, which is a method of teaching reading, phonetic spelling or phonetic reading is a behavior that young readers exhibit when they are trying to write or read. When children spell words the way they sound, they are said to be phonetically spelling — for example, the word lion could be phonetically spelled L-Y-N, or the word move could be phonetically spelled M-U-V. Likewise, a child can phonetically read words — child phonetically reading the word two may say "twah", or the child may phonetically read the word laugh in such a way that it sounds like lag or log.


Unlike phonics or phonetic reading and writing, phonology has nothing to do with the letters in our alphabet or the letter names (spoken or written. Phonology has to do with the ability to distinguish and categorize sounds in speech. Some words in English (in all languages actually) sound very similar, and are easily confused if you are not very sensitive to the distinctions. For some children with phonology deficits, pairs of words like mauve and moth or rate and late sound identical. They can not hear the difference between certain similar phonemes (speech sounds), and as a consequence, they can not hear the difference between certain words.

Phonological awareness

Like phonology, phonological awareness has nothing to do with the letters in our alphabet — it has to do with the sounds in spoken words. And while phonology refers to the ability to hear the difference between sounds in spoken words, phonological awareness refers to the child's understanding that spoken words are made up of sounds.

This fact is obvious to adults, but children do not usually realize that, within a word, there may be other words (in the case of compound words), or that words are made up of syllables and that syllables are made up of phonemes. Children without phonological awareness do not understand what it means for words to rhyme, they do not appreciate alliteration (words that start with the same sound), and they do not understand that some words are longer than other words (the spoken form, that is, not necessarily the written form — the word area in its spoken form is longer than the word though, but in its written form, area is the shorter word).

Phoneme awareness

The phoneme is the basic building block for spoken words. In English, for example, there are an infinite number of possible words, but there are only about 45 phonemes. To make new words, we just delete or rearrange the phonemes — mat becomes man when the phoneme /t/ is replaced with the phoneme /n/, and deleting the phoneme /m/ from man leaves you with the word an.

While phonological awareness is a general term describing a child's awareness that spoken words are made up of sounds, phoneme awareness is a specific term that falls under the umbrella of phonological awareness. Phoneme awareness refers to the specific understanding that spoken words are made up of individual phonemes — not just sounds in general (which would include syllables, onsets, rimes, etc.). Children with phoneme awareness know that the spoken word bend contains four phonemes, and that the words pill and map both contain the phoneme /p/; they know that phonemes can be rearranged and substituted to make different words.

Phonological awareness is a step in the right direction, but phoneme awareness is what is necessary for the child to understand that the letters in written words represent the phonemes in spoken words (what we call the "alphabetic principle"). We spend a lot of time teaching children that the letter M stands for the sound /m/, but we rarely make sure that children understand that words like milk, ham and family all contain the phoneme /m/, or that the difference between man and an is the deletion of the phoneme /m/.

Phoneme awareness can be demonstrated in a variety of ways. The easiest phoneme awareness task is called blending — an adult pronounces a word with a pause between each phoneme (e.g. /b/ /a/ /l/), and the child blends the phonemes together to make the word ("ball"). A more challenging assessment for children is the reverse, called phoneme segmentation — the adult says the whole word, and the child says the word with pauses between the phonemes (adult says "ball," child says /b/ /a/ /l/). Even more challenging is phoneme manipulation — the adult tells the child to say a word without a particular phoneme (say "boat" without the /t/), or the adult tells the child to add a phoneme to a word to make a new word (What word would you have if you added the phoneme /o/ to the beginning of "pen?"). If the child can reliably do any of these tasks, the child has demonstrated true phoneme awareness, but a relevant point to make here is that the child doesn't need to do much more than these tasks to demonstrate phoneme awareness.

It is possible, in fact it is easy, to create phoneme awareness tasks that are exceptionally tricky, but these should be avoided rather than exploited. English contains many confusing phonemes — there are diphthongs and glides that can confuse anybody, even mature, experienced readers (How many phonemes do you hear in pay?), and there are odd phonemes that are not universally defined (How many phonemes are in the word ring or fur?), and there are clusters of phonemes that are harder to segment than other phonemes (a cluster is a group of consonants that are perceived as a unit, sometimes until the child begins spelling — for example, the /pr/ in pray, the /gl/ in glow, and the /sk/ in school). It is important for the teacher to remember that the child doesn't need to be an Olympic champion at phoneme manipulation — the child just needs to demonstrate knowledge of the fact that spoken words are made up of phonemes. It is also important that the teacher understands that phoneme awareness is not a magic bullet; it is important, and it is necessary for reading success, but it is only one skill of many that support literacy.


To recap, phonics is an instructional approach that emphasizes the letter-sound relationships (which letters represent which sounds). Phonetic reading and writing is a behavior the child exhibits that involves "sounding out" words the way they are written or writing words the way they sound (again, relating to the way letters represent speech sounds). Phonology has to do with the ability to hear the difference between different speech sounds (and has nothing to do with letters of the alphabet). Phonological awareness is a term used to describe the child's generic understanding that spoken words are made up of sounds. Phoneme awareness specifically refers to a child's knowledge that the basic building blocks of spoken words are the phonemes.

The Phive Phones of Reading by Sebastian Wren, Ph.D. Copyrighted © by Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. All rights reserved.

Video: Letters and Sounds

A Hmong-American kindergarten teacher in Sacramento mixes serious instruction with lively play for his second language learners.

Phonetic Spelling: Guide to What It Is and How It's Used


    phonetic spelling example of ap-uhl


    twomeows / Moment / Getty Images


    Used under Getty Images license

Phonetic spelling is a tool for pronunciation. It involves writing out words according to how the letters and syllables are spoken. It doesn't represent an alternate way that words can be spelled in written communication, but rather simply provides a guide for correct pronunciation.

Uses for Phonetic Spelling

Phonetic spelling is invaluable for those who are learning to speak a new language or who find themselves needing to pronounce hard-to-say names or other words in their own language.

  • Phonetic spelling is used in many situations that involve public speaking, such as the phonetic spelling of names for a graduation ceremony, announcing sports events, giving speeches, or reading the news.
  • Phonetic spelling can help speakers or presenters know how to properly pronounce people's names or unfamiliar words, such as unfamiliar jargon. For example, medical terminology includes many complex words that can be hard to pronounce. Phonetic spelling is a sound-based pronunciation guide for such terms.
  • The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is particularly helpful for people who are learning how to speak a language other than their native tongue. It provides symbols for various sounds that are consistent across all languages.


Phonetic Spelling Guide

In order to write out words based on how they are pronounced, you'll need to use a phonetic spelling guide that provides ways to write the various sounds that different letters make. You can use a phonetic symbol for each sound, or opt to utilize IPA symbols.

Phonetic Consonant Sounds Chart

The phonetic spelling chart below illustrates standard phonetic spellings for consonant sounds commonly used in English for the highlighted letter(s) in the "sounds like" column. The third column features the IPA symbol for the consonant sound.

Phonetic Symbol for Consonant SoundSounds LikeIPA Symbol


boy, club



children, nature



dog, bid



author, them/ð/


father, rough, ruff/f/


girl, leg, egg/ɡ/


him, redhead/h/


jazz, gender, ledge/dʒ/


corn, kitten, skunk, pick/h/


loch, Hanukah, Chanukah/x/


like, fell/l/


mad, dam/m/


not, been/n/


bring, sting/ŋ/


drink, think/ŋk/


pink, lip/p/


ring, merry/r/


sit, cents, class/s/


she, motion, surely, clash/ʃ/


stink, two, let/t/


this, beneath/θ/


vex, love/v/


water, awe/w/


why, what/hw/


you, yesterday/j/


zip, buzz, froze, rosy/z/


leisure, collision, beige


Phonetic Vowel Sounds Chart

The symbols below are used to indicate common vowel sounds in the English language. Each symbol is used to represent the type of sound marked in bold in the "sounds like" column. The IPA symbol for that vowel sound is given in the third (right) column.

Phonetic Symbol for Vowel Sound
Sounds Like
IPA Symbol


bad, clap/æ/

ah or aa

bother, father



square, lair



starter, barter



carry, married



thought, fraught, saw


ay or ai

cape, wait


e or eh

pest, bless



flee, plea



fear, deer



berry, cherry



few, feud

lure, sewer


hike, icon


i or ih

skit, historic

fire, liar


mirror, nearer



plot, flock



float, lo



mood, boo, glue, shoe



cure tour, poor



forth, warn



lore, orange


ou or ow

out, rout, south

flour, flower


voice, soy


u or uh

glut, nut, mustard



purse, verse, hearse



scurry, furry

soot, put
courier, worrier


lye, hide

about, drama
better, letter


Phonetic Spelling Examples

When words are transcribed into their phonetic spelling, dashes are used to separate syllables. Sounds that are stressed can either be bolded or written in capital letters, which is the option used below. Review the list of words below for a few examples of phonetic spellings and IPA transcriptions.

Phonetic Spelling
IPA Transcription



Phonetic Spelling Dictionary and Transcription

When you look up a word in the dictionary, it will show you one or more common phonetic spellings for the term. There are also some free online phonetic spelling converter tools you can use.

  • If you're specifically interested in IPA transcription, this automatic phonemic transcriber site is a good option. You can enter any Danish, English or German word and it will be transcribed into IPA symbols.
  • If you want to get both phonetic spelling and IPA symbols, the site EasyPronunciation.com is a better option. You can select American or British English and get results transcribed either way or both ways.

If you are learning to speak English as a second language (ESL) or if you frequently do public speaking that involves pronouncing unfamiliar words, a print guide to the IPA can be a useful tool. The IPA for Language Learning: An Introduction to the International Phonetic Alphabet is a good option to consider.


Strengthen Your Pronunciation Skills

Now that you are familiar with phonetic spelling and IPA symbols, use what you have learned to improve your pronunciation skills. From there, explore the difference between pronunciation and enunciation so you'll be prepared to clearly articulate your words in addition to pronouncing them correctly.

Words different in spelling, sound, lexical and opposite meaning

Section menu

Russian language

Rating: 3 / 5

Please rate Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5

Definition of antonyms, synonyms, homonyms, homophones, homographs


Antonyms are words of one part of speech, different in sound, having the exact opposite meaning: truth - lies, good - evil, speak - be silent.

By structure, antonyms are:

  1. different roots: forward - backward, sad - cheerful, health - illness;
  2. single root (formed with prefixes that are opposite in meaning or with the help of a prefix added to the original word): for go - you go, knowledge - not knowledge, viral - anti viral.

There are no proper names, pronouns, numerals among antonyms.


Synonyms are words of the same part of speech, different in sound and spelling, but having the same or very close lexical meaning: bold - brave, courageous; shout - yell, yell; work - occupation,


Synonyms are used to increase the expressiveness of speech. The use of synonyms allows you to avoid monotony in speech. nine0003


Homonyms are words that are different in meaning, but the same in spelling and sound: key (for a lock) - key (spring), horn (blacksmith) - horn (wind instrument), pen (for writing) - handle (door).


Homophones are words that sound the same, but are different in spelling and lexical meaning: lu g - lu k , ba l - ba ll , ko sn th - ko stn th.


Homographs are words that are identical in spelling, but different in sound and lexical meaning: squirrels - squirrels, standing - standing, abyss - abyss.

  • Back
  • Forward

If you notice an error, select a piece of text and press Ctrl+Enter

Rating: ( 1 Rating ) nine0009

Will Kadyrov run for president of Russia? Went furthest in Washington Tightening control over payments and transfers Biden's illegitimate grandson Ragozin wounded in Donetsk Conscription will be from the age of 21 On the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine Germany and France will have to pay compensation to residents of Donbass Believe only me E is gone, D has fallen... Smell of fried, change dollars to yuan Ordered the murder of an 8-year-old girl Return of the death penalty The court annulled the entry "Prone to betrayal" in the military ID Alexander Boroday about SVO Chronicle of the special operation December 2-5 nine0003

Remember me


Top 10 spelling mistakes

What did you do in Russian? Five? And now you google, how do you spell "nothing"? Know that you are not alone in this: another 141,000 users ask this question to Google every month.

But why do we forget what we were taught at school, what to do with it, and when will we remember all the rules? Let's figure out how to spell 10 words that Russian-speaking netizens google most often. nine0014

Ok google, why do school rules get forgotten?

8,000,000 — this is the number of times Yandex users monthly turn to the all-seeing eye with the question “how do you spell it?…”. According to Wordstat, the number of search queries with this phrase has increased by almost 3 million over the year, and according to Google Trends analysts, their number will only grow. Despite the fact that the autocorrect has saved us from the need to check the spelling of words in a spelling dictionary, we still wonder about their correct spelling. nine0003

The spelling mistakes that we make are the result of a vital process for the body called “forgetting”. From the point of view of physiology, forgetting is not only normal, but even useful: as soon as we learn something new, the brain tends to free up several gigabytes of memory for this information, therefore it restructures the existing one. For example, when you learn a new language with your own grammar and spelling, your knowledge of your native language is subject to change. So, if you forgot how the word "vinaigrette" is spelled, don't be alarmed: it is still stored in your memory, your brain didn't delete it, it just archived it. nine0003

Let's see what words and rules the brain archives most often.

Top 10 popular Google spelling queries

I have nothing to do with it

Top 10 opens the query "nothing to do with" . Most of the spelling questions that arise can be solved if you know what part of speech the frightening word belongs to. "Nothing to do with" is a pronoun with the preposition PRI and the particle NI. According to the rules of Russian grammar, pronouns in the form of indirect cases (and these are all cases except the nominative) are written separately with prepositions. How to remember it? Easy: remember how to spell "without you" . Writing these words is unlikely to cause difficulties, but this is also a pronoun with a preposition - "without" + "you" in the genitive case. So, "without you" is written separately according to the same rule as "nothing to do with" .

I, and I, and I are of the same opinion

Query "the same as it is written" , according to Google Trends, is super popular: its demand for the year increased by more than 5000%. In business correspondence, the words “too”, “also”, “same” appear regularly, and in the case of them, the auto-corrector is often ready to sign his own impotence - depending on the meaning that we want to convey, these words can be written together or separately . Compare two sentences:

  1. was chosen to celebrate the anniversary of the company, the same place as last year.

  2. I am also going to a corporate party this weekend.

Let's try to discard the particle SAME in the first sentence: the meaning has not changed, so we write separately. Let's try to do the same maneuver with the second sentence: it doesn't work out, so we write together. You can use another way: let's try to replace "too" in the second sentence with AND, putting this union at the beginning - "and I'm going to a corporate party" . If such a replacement is possible, we write together.


"Goodbye" - separately, and only in this way, because this variant of farewell goes back to the noun "date" in the genitive case. DO is a preposition, and nouns with a preposition are always written separately! To remove any doubts, let's try to put an adjective between these words: "see you soon" . It turned out, which means we write separately. nine0003

“Can you write with a soft sign?” the inquisitive reader will ask. If you are a poet and strive to preserve the rhyme and meter of your masterpiece, you can.

Let's write later

Without this verb, life in the age of instant messengers and social networks is unimaginable! Do you remember how your Russian language teacher once talked about verb conjugation? “The second conjugation includes verbs in -it, the first conjugation includes all the others,” she said. “Blah blah blah, exceptions ... blah blah blah” - somewhere here you fell into a deep sleep, and the noble mission of the teacher to bring light and enlightenment lost all meaning. And now, after 10-15-20 years, it suddenly turns out that the school taught to copy perfectly, but not write off .

But the conjugation does matter, because in order to write the word “let's write” correctly, you need to remember its infinitive, or the indefinite form of the verb. “Scribe” ends in -at, which means that the verb belongs to the first conjugation. In the verbs of the first conjugation, in unstressed endings (read as "in incomprehensible cases"), the vowels E, U, Yu are written, and in the verbs of the second conjugation, the letters I, A, Z. Conclusion: "let's write" is written through E.0003

I'm going nowhere

Adverbs in Russian are one of the most difficult topics, and the insidious "to nowhere" is an average adverb with a preposition. Most often, we use this construction with verbs of motion: "go nowhere", "lead to nowhere". In these cases, the adverb "nowhere" is used as a noun: I'm going (where?) To the theater, (Where?) To school, (Where?) To nowhere. You can remember the spelling of this adverb with the help of an analogy: the camp goes to the sky, and the road goes nowhere .

Therefore or because of this

The adverb "therefore" makes friends with "gypsies" and "chicks", as it is also one of the exceptions to the general rule. All adverbs formed from pronouns and adjectives with the prefix PO and ending in -OMU, -EMU, -TSKI, -SKI, -ЬI are written with a hyphen. Howl like a wolf, live in a new way, but therefore teach exceptions.

However, if you write “for this” separately, you will also be right in your own way: only the adverb is written together, but the demonstrative pronoun "this" with the preposition ON - separately. On this occasion, you can no longer contact Google.

You don't have to know all the rules. But this is not exactly

To understand how to write any adverb with "not" , it is enough to remember three cases in which they are written together:

  1. Adverbs that cannot be used without NOT are written together, for example: perplexed .

  2. And also adverbs ending in -O, -E, which can be replaced by a synonym without NOT, for example: not bad (i.e. good) . The position is relevant only until a contrast with the union A appears next to it ( is not funny , but sad) or the words NOT AT ALL, NOT ANYTHING, FAR NOT, NOT AT ALL.

  3. Negative adverbs, such as once or several , are also written together.

Does your adverb not fit into these three points, or does it not end with -O, -E? Feel free to write separately.

What about salary? nine0020

Not only we, but also the auto-corrector may doubt the spelling of some words: he is haunted by homophones - words that sound the same, but are different in meaning and spelling. "About" is one of them.

If you agreed about your fee , then you have a preposition and it is written together: it can be easily replaced by a shorter preposition - O (OB), and the meaning will not change. The fee will be transferred to you within the established time frame to your savings account , and now this is a noun "account" with preposition "on" . This fact is confirmed by an adjective that can be safely placed between them.

(Not) despite everything

“Despite” is another homophone that can be both a preposition and a gerund. If you spelled this word correctly DESPITE the fact that you did not know the rules, you used a preposition. In this case, it replaces the words "although" or "despite" and is written with NOT together.

And if you are writing a future bestseller where the hero walks down the street, despite the passers-by , and dreams of hugging the heroine as soon as possible - do not forget to put spaces between these three words.

Learn more