Five Other Ways to Spell [f]
1. Underline the letters that spell [f] in the following words:
2. Sort the words into these three groups:
The <ph> spelling of [f] usually comes from the Greek letter phi, which was translated into Latin and English as <ph>. In sapphire [f] is spelled <pph>. Sapphire comes from the Greek word , sappheiros, in which the first was the Greek letter pi, , and the <ph> was phi, .
3. In a very few words [f] is spelled <gh>:
Where is the <gh> in all of these words — at the front, in the middle, at the end? _______ Is the vowel in front of the <gh> long or is it short? _______. The vowel in front of the <gh> is spelled with two letters. What is the second of these letters in each word? _______
Hundreds of years ago this <gh> spelled a sound like that you hear at the end of the Scottish pronunciation of loch or the German pronunciation of Bach. In time that sound dropped out of English, but the <gh> usually stayed in the written words. After long vowels the <gh> came to be no longer pronounced, as in sigh and right. And after short vowels spelled with a digraph ending in it came to be pronounced [f], as in the six words above.
4. In the words calf, behalf, and half [f] is spelled <lf>. The <l> used to be pronounced [l] — as it still is in words like golf and shelf— but in time people changed the pronunciation of calf, behalf, and half without changing their spellings.
5. In the words often and soften [f] is spelled <ft>. The <t> used to be pronounced. You still hear some people who pronounce the <t> in often. In fact, some dictionaries show two pronunciations for often, one with and one without the [t]. But usually the <ft> just spells [f].
6. Usually the sound [f] is spelled _______ or _______. Sometimes [f] is spelled <ff> because of ________, ________, ________, ________, or ________. Words with <ff> due to twinning are ________, ________, and ________. Five other spellings of [f] are ________, ________, ________, _______, and ________.