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Sometimes a Vowel, Sometimes a Consonant: <w>

1. Fill in the blank: One letter that is sometimes a vowel and sometimes a consonant is <y>. (Did you remember the pointed brackets?)

2. Two other letters that are sometimes vowels and sometimes consonants are <w> and <\mathrm{u}>. The letter <w> is usually a consonant. It is a vowel only when it teams up with an <\mathrm{a}>, <e>, or <o> to spell a single sound—as in the words draw, few, and low. So the letter <w> is a vowel only in the two-letter teams <aw>, <ew>, and <ow>.

Everywhere else <w> is a consonant: It is a consonant when it spells the sound it does at the front of way. And it is a consonant when it teams up with <r> and <h>— as in write and who.

3. Listen to the sound the <w> is spelling or helping spell in each of these words. Then sort the words into the two groups below:

&\text{away} && \text{what} && \text{below} && \text{went}\\&\text{saw} && \text{write} && \text{would} && \text{new}\\&\text{yellow} && \text{women} && \text{few} && \text{white}

Words in which the <w> is ...
a vowel a consonant
saw away
yellow what
below write
few women
new would
went
white

4. Each word in Column 1 below contains a <w> or a <y>. Sometimes the <w> or <y> is a consonant, sometimes a vowel. Spell each word in Column 1 backwards and you will get a new word. Write these new words in Column 2. Then put a check mark after each word that contains a <w> or <y> that is a vowel. We've given you a start:

Column 1 Column 2
was saw \surd
dray \surd yard
flow \surd wolf
wets stew\surd
straw \surd warts
Column 1 Column 2
pay \surd yaps
war raw\surd
yaws \surd sway \surd
draw \surd ward
wonk know\surd

Teaching Notes.

  1. In Item 6: If wonk is not in your dictionary, the Random House Unabridged defines it as “(1) a student who spends much time studying and has little or no social life; grind; (2) a stupid, boring, or unattractive person.” Newspaper columnists also use it to refer to cerebral bureaucrats and political consultants. The students may be interested in seeing that in all ten pairs of words, when the word is reversed, the <w> or <y> shifts from being a vowel to a consonant or vice versa. The yaws-sway pair is noteworthy for containing both a <w> and a <y>, both of which do the consonant-vowel shift.

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1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5

Date Created:

Feb 23, 2012

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Apr 29, 2014
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