<img src="https://d5nxst8fruw4z.cloudfront.net/atrk.gif?account=iA1Pi1a8Dy00ym" style="display:none" height="1" width="1" alt="" />
Skip Navigation

16.19: Two Other Spellings of [w]

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
Turn In

Two Other Spellings of [w]

1. Underline the letters that spell [w] in the following words:


2. You should have found two different spellings of [w]. Seven words have the first spelling; seventeen have the second. Sort the words into the following two groups:

Words with [w] spelled...
way #1 way #2
awhile acquaint quizzes
everywhere distinguish earthquake
somewhat persuade equation
which acquire qualities
whistle request squirrel
overwhelm quotation frequently
whizzed language squeeze
pueblo question

3. Dictionaries usually give us a choice as to how we should pronounce <wh>: either [hw] or just [w]. You might check yourself: When you say whale, does it sound exactly like your pronunciation of wail? Or do you hear a little puff of air in front, a soft [h]? Hundreds of years ago, whale was spelled hwa¯l, and the <h> was pronounced [h]. But in time the spelling changed, probably to make it more like the other clusters <ch>, <gh>, <sh>, and <th>. The spelling changed, but the pronunciation more or less stayed the same. Over the centuries that [h] has tended to get lost. That is why dictionaries usually show two different pronunciaitons for <wh>: [w] and [hw].

4. Look at the seventeen words in which [w] is spelled <u>. In each one mark the letter that comes right in front of the <u> that is spelling [w]. You should have found four different consonants that come before the <u>. The first of the consonants is in thirteen of the words; the second is in two words, and the third and fourth are in one word each. Sort the words into the following groups:

Words in which the
acquaint quizzes frequently
acquire earthquake squeeze
request equation question
quotation qualities
quantity squirrel
Words in which the
<g> <s> <p>
distinguish persuaded pueblo

5. It is not surprising that [w] is often spelled <u>: The letter <w> was originally just two <u>'s run together, <uu>. That is why <w> is called “double-<u>.”

6. Three spellings of [w] are <w>, <wh>, and <u>, The spelling <w> always comes At the front of an element or in a consonant cluster that comes at the front of an element. The spelling <u> usually comes after the letter <q> and sometimes after the letters <g>, <s> , or <p>. The spelling <wh> is sometimes pronounced [wh], sometimes [w].

Word Histories. One set of homophones with [w] is weather, whether, and wether. Weather comes from an Old English word that meant “Weather, storm, wind.” It is related to the words wind and window. A sentence that can help with the <w> spelling: “The wind and weather came through the broken window.”

Whether, as in “I don't know whether to go or not,” comes from an Old English word that is closely related to words like what, why, which, when, all of which contain the <wh> spelling.

The rare wether “a male sheep” comes from an Old English word that is related to the word veterinarian. Notice that neither veterinarian nor wether have an <h> or an <a> among the first three letters.

Teaching Notes.

Item 3. Lesson 20 of Book 7 discusses how the <u> after <q> sometimes spells [w] as in quick and sometimes is part of the <qu> spelling of [k], as in mosquito or mosque. Remember that <u> following <q>, whether it spells [w] or is part of the spelling of [k], is a consonant.

Notes/Highlights Having trouble? Report an issue.

Color Highlighted Text Notes
Please to create your own Highlights / Notes
Show More

Image Attributions

Show Hide Details
1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5
Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
Last Modified:
Jul 07, 2015
Files can only be attached to the latest version of section
Please wait...
Please wait...
Image Detail
Sizes: Medium | Original