Phonics Rules & Secret Codes!

Here is a growing list of phonics rules. There are some exceptions in our English Language when these rules will not work, but in the majority of cases the phonics rules will apply. I have tried where possible to give examples of a word using the phonics rule.

Help them to check words to see if the reading rule is correct. It gives the phonics rules a ‘magic’ like quality, like a secret code!

Basically always remember to help your child practice applying the new phonics rule to words in print.

Top 10 Phonics Rules

  • Every word must contain a vowel. The vowels are: a, e, i, o, u, and y ( y is a consonant when at the beginning of a word). Eg: A, me, sit, no, up, my
  • When a one syllable word ends in a consonant and has only one vowel, that vowel is short. Eg: mat, red, fish, sock, rug.
  • When a syllable ends in a silent “e,” the vowel that comes before the silent “e” is long. Eg: lake, gene, kite, rope, use.
  • When w is before “or”, the “or” says “er”. (work, word, – but not sword)
  • Qu are always together. Eg: queen, quarrel, quick, quiet
  • When “g” is followed by “e, i, or y,” it usually has the soft sound of “j.” Eg: gem, gym
  • When “c” is followed by “e, i, or y,” it usually has the soft sound of “s.” Eg: city, cent, cygnet
  • When a syllable ends in a vowel and is the only vowel, that vowel is usually long. Eg: “la/ter, me, I, o/pen, u/nique, my”.
  • When 2 consonants join together and form one new sound, they are called ‘consonant digraphs’. They count as one sound. Eg: “ch, sh, th, ph, wh”.
  • When a syllable has 2 vowels together, the first vowel is usually long and the second is silent. Eg: “rain, meat, coat, res/cue, day,”. NOTE: Diphthongs don’t follow this rule

Many phonics rules are in the free printables page

 Phonics Tips

  • You do not need to teach every phonics rule. Only teach the most common rules.
  • It can be confusing to talk about “short & long vowels”to young children.
  • Teach your child the short vowel sounds first.
  • Then when they encounter a long vowel, as in the word /ice/ tell them, “That vowel says its own name.”


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