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16.1: How Do You Spell [f]?

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12

How Do You Spell [f]?

1. You can hear the sound [f] at the beginning and end of the word fluff. Underline the letters that spell [f] in the following words:

\underline{f}luorescente\underline{ff}icient\underline{f}ascinatebu\underline{ff}alo\underline{f}eistyscienti\underline{f}ic\underline{f}astenerindi\underline{ff}erentnoti\underline{f}ycounter\underline{f}eitpro\underline{f}anityde\underline{f}raudedhei\underline{f}ercerti\underline{f}ygol\underline{f}co\underline{ff}eewa\underline{ff}les\underline{f}ezzes\underline{f}oreign\underline{f}riendlyshel\underline{f}de\underline{f}initei\underline{ff}y\underline{f}inancier\begin{align*}& \text{\underline{f}luorescent} && \text{\underline{f}astener} && \text{hei\underline{f}er} && \text{\underline{f}oreign}\\ & \text{e\underline{ff}icient} && \text{indi\underline{ff}erent} && \text{certi\underline{f}y} && \text{\underline{f}riendly}\\ & \text{\underline{f}ascinate} && \text{noti\underline{f}y} && \text{gol\underline{f}} && \text{shel\underline{f}}\\ & \text{bu\underline{ff}alo} && \text{counter\underline{f}eit} && \text{co\underline{ff}ee} && \text{de\underline{f}inite}\\ & \text{\underline{f}eisty} && \text{pro\underline{f}anity} && \text{wa\underline{ff}les} && \text{i\underline{ff}y}\\ & \text{scienti\underline{f}ic} && \text{de\underline{f}rauded} && \text{\underline{f}ezzes} && \text{\underline{f}inancier}\end{align*}

2. Sort the words into the following two groups:

Words with [f] spelled <f>:
flourescent notify certify shelf
fascinate counterfeit golf definite
feisty profanity fezzes financier
scientific defrauded foreign
fastener heifer friendly
Words with [f] spelled <ff>:
efficient indifferent waffles
buffalo coffee iffy

About 90%\begin{align*}90\%\end{align*} of the time [f] is spelled one of these two ways.

3. Most of the time [f] is spelled <f> or <ff>.

4.f It is usually easy to know when to use <f> and <ff>. The <ff> is always there for good reasons. Most often it is due to assimilation or the VCC pattern, or it is between a short vowel and <le>. Less often it is due to twinning or simple addition.

With <ff> the VCC pattern rather than the VC# is usual at the end of words, as in stiff and staff rather than \begin{align*}^*\end{align*}stif or \begin{align*}^*\end{align*}staf. The only words that end with a single <f> following a short vowel are the French chef and clef and the English word if. So the only cases of [f] spelled <ff> due to twinning are in iffy, iffier, and iffiest.

In the following words, if the <ff> spelling is due to assimilation, twinning, or simple addition, analyze the word into prefix, base, and suffix to show where the <ff> spelling comes from. If the <ff> is due to the VCC pattern or is between a short vowel and <le>, just write ‘VCC’ or ‘<ffle>’ in the Analysis column. Remember that VCC rather than VC# is normal for [f] at the end of the word:

Word Analysis
affection ad\begin{align*}\cancel{d}\end{align*}+ f + fect + ion
iffy if + f + y
offering ob\begin{align*}\cancel{b}\end{align*} + f + fer + ing
sheriff VCC
effective ex\begin{align*}\cancel{x}\end{align*} + f + fect + ive
shelfful shelf + ful
gruff VCC
buffalo VCC
indifferent in + dis\begin{align*}\cancel{s}\end{align*} + f + fer + ent
efficient ex\begin{align*}\cancel{x}\end{align*}+ f + fic + i + ent
waffles <ffle>
daffodil VCC
suffered sub\begin{align*}\cancel{b}\end{align*}+ f + fer + ed
iffiest if + f +y\begin{align*}\cancel{y}\end{align*}+ i + est
coffee VCC

Teaching Notes.

Item 4. The answer sheet gives full analyses for the words in this table although the students need only analyze the words enough to show the reason for the <ff>. The <i>\begin{align*}<\mathrm{i}>\end{align*} insertion in efficient is, again, due to the demands of the pattern for the palatalized <c> spelling of [sh].

For more on the spelling of [f] see AES, pp. 377-84.

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