Friday, December 7, 2012

How Well Do You Know English?

Do you know why we read, spell, and pronounce English the way we do? 

I thought it would be fun to have a little contest for visitors to this blog. Here's a little quiz. Post a comment with your best guesses:

1. What two consonants almost never end an English word? 

2. What consonants at the end of a one-syllable, short vowel sound will usually double? 

3. What are the sounds y can make within a word? 

4. Can you explain why cat begins with c and kitten begins with k?.

Post your answers in the comments section below. The first person to answer at least three of these questions correctly will win a prize!


  1. It would totally be unfair if I answered these questions . . . . .

  2. Ben, I'd be super impressed if you could. :)

  3. 1. v & j

    2. s, f & z

    3. i & e

    4. k takes i & e, c takes the other 3 (a, o, u)

  4. 1. v and c
    2. s, z, and f
    3. As a consonant (at the beginning of the word) as an i (short or long) or as an e (at the end of the word)
    4. Because a, o, and u are used with C, and i and e are used with K

    -Sarah (SJSU)

  5. 1. j and c

    2. z, s, and f

    3. i and e vowel sound and a consonant at the beginning of a word

    4. K takes i and e, C takes the other 3

  6. 1. j, q, V
    3. long I, short i, long e
    4. when the sound K is followed by a, o or us it is spelled with a C
    when it is followed by i or e it is a K

  7. 1. J, Q
    2. S, F, Z
    3. Same as I - both long and short
    4. C before A, O, U; K before I, E to keep the sounds

  8. In your header the & symbol, from the French word "et" is backwards.

    1. Peter,thanks for your comment. That is actually a capital "S" in cursive font, not the "&" symbol. Thanks for noticing details!

  9. These are wonderful answers! Thanks, friends, for participating! I will be sending some prizes!

    These are the answers:
    1. j and v
    2. s, f, and z
    3. long I or short I, long E at the end of a word (sometimes long I); Y is a consonant sound if it begins a word.
    4. When you hear the /k/ sound, listen for the sound of the vowel that follows. If you hear a, o, or u, spell with a C. If you hear i or e, spell with a K.

  10. Hi Heidi. Sorry to comment after the end of the contest. I thought I'd add my input, though.
    1. C and Q also seldom end English words. Hard C(/k/) at the end of a word is usually spelled ck, a good phonics point to teach students.
    2. L is also usually doubled at the end of a one-syllable, short-vowel word, as in will, well, doll and fill
    3. The letter y is pronounced like long I at the end of a one-syllable word (fly, my, sky, by), as long E at the end of a multi-syllable word (very, many, pretty) and /y/ at the beginning of a word (yellow) This lesson is useful for adult ESL literacy students, who can clap out the syllables.
    4. C is HARD /k/ before a back vowel (o, a) and SOFT /s/ before a front vowel (i, e). I hold up a blackboard eraser to teach my students "hard sound" - I tap on hard side of eraser; "soft sound" - I press soft side of the eraser. I DO NOT teach front vowel, back vowel -- too complicated for them. I give them examples of the sounds, as you do, Heidi.
    The eraser prop also helps students with hard and soft G sounds.

    1. Marcia,

      Thank you for your comments. You make some great points, and I agree with all of them! Best of luck in your teaching!