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12.6: Some Digraph Spellings of Long < e >

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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Some Digraph Spellings of Long <e>

1. A digraph is a combination of two letters used to spell a single sound. Long <e> is spelled by a number of different digraphs. Read the following words aloud. If you are not sure how to pronounce some of them, look them up in your dictionary or ask for help. Underline the digraphs that are spelling \begin{align*}[\bar{\mathrm{e}}]\end{align*} in the following words:

\begin{align*}& \text{agr\underline{ee}ment} && \text{refer\underline{ee}} && \text{pion\underline{ee}rs} && \text{coll\underline{ea}gue} && \text{subp\underline{oe}na}\\ \\ & \text{s\underline{ea}gulls} && \text{donk\underline{ey}} && \text{larv\underline{ae}} && \text{am\underline{oe}b\underline{ae}} && \text{proc\underline{ee}d}\\ \\ & \text{alg\underline{ae}} && \text{fores\underline{ee}able} && \text{l\underline{ea}gue} && \text{thirt\underline{ee}n} && \text{pull\underline{ey}}\\ \\ & \text{p\underline{ea}ceable} && \text{gr\underline{ea}sy} && \text{l\underline{ea}ding} && \text{troll\underline{ey}} && \text{dis\underline{ea}se}\\ \\ & \text{committ\underline{ee}} && \text{guarant\underline{ee}} && \text{employ\underline{ee}} && \text{p\underline{eo}ple} && \text{br\underline{ea}thed}\end{align*}

2. Now sort the words into the following groups.

Words with
<ee> <ea> <ey>
agreements pioneers seagulls disease donkey
committee employee leading colleague trolley
referee thirteen peaceable greasy pully
foreseeable proceed league breathed
Words with
<ae> <oe> <eo>
algae amoebae amoebae people
larvae subpoena

3. Notice that the digraph <ey> only spells \begin{align*}[\bar{\mathrm{e}}]\end{align*} when it comes at the end of the word. In this way it is very much like the <y> spelling of \begin{align*}[\bar{\mathrm{e}}]\end{align*}, which also only occurs at the end of the word.

Word Histories. The digraph <oe> comes from Greek. Several words with <oe> have more English-looking spellings with just plain <e>: ameba, for instance, and subpena.

The digraph <ae> comes from Latin. In Latin <ae> is a common ending for plural nouns. Several of these nouns have more regular English plurals with -s: amoebas (or amebas), for instance.

The digraph <eo> in people comes from an old French word that was sometimes spelled people, sometimes peple, sometimes poeple. The French word came from the Latin word populus, which meant “people” and also gave us words like popular and population. Remembering the <o> in popular and population can help you remember the <o> in people.

Teaching Notes. Item 3. Some other high frequency words with \begin{align*}[\bar{\mathrm{e}}]\end{align*} spelled <ey>: abbey, alley, attorney, barley, chimney, donkey, honey, jersey, journey, key, money, monkey, turkey, valley.

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Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
Last Modified:
Jul 07, 2015
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