How Do You Spell [z]?
1. You can hear the sound [z] at the beginning and end of the word zebras. Underline the letters that spell [z] in the following words. Do not underline any silent final <e>'s:
2. Sort the words into these two groups:
Words with [z] spelled
Words with [z] spelled <z>:
3. Most of the time [z] is spelled or <z>. It is difficult to write any clear-cut rules for telling when [z] should be and when it should be <z>. But here are three useful observations:
a. The spelling of [z] does not occur at the beginnings of words; the <z> spelling does.
b. The spelling is much more common than is the <z> spelling.
c. The spelling is most common in longer words that come from Latin because <z> was rarely used in Latin.
The Homophones phase and faze
Phase is most often used as noun that refers to a stage in a process or the various appearances that a person or thing may have, as in “He's in his rebellious phase” or “I'm not sure what phase of the moon we have tonight, but I think it is a full moon.” It comes from the Greek word phasis, which meant “appearance.” Our word phase is closely related to words like phantom, phenomenon, and emphasis, all of which come from that same Greek phasis and have the same <ph>, representing the Greek letter phi, .
Faze is most often used as a verb that means “to disturb or upset someone,” as in “His insult didn't faze her one bit.” Faze comes from the Old English word fēsian, “to drive away.” It is not related to any other modern words, but there is at least a spelling connection with words like daze, craze, and amaze, all of which deal with disturbances to the mind of one kind or another.
So remember faze, craze, daze, amaze to help with the <aze> spelling in faze. And remember phase, phantom, phenomenon to help with the <ph> spelling in phase.
For more on the spelling of [z] see AES, pp. 391-97.