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4.9: The Consonant Sounds [h] and [th]

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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The Consonant Sounds [h] and [th]

1. You can hear the sound [h] at the beginning of help.

2. The sound [h] is usually spelled <h>, sometimes <wh>. Underline the letters that spell [h] in the following words:

3. The sound [h] is spelled <h> in eight of the words.

It is spelled <wh> in four of the words.

4. Sort the words into these two groups:

Words with [h] spelled ...
<h> <wh>
behind have who
ahead helicopter whole
anyhow height whose
perhaps heard whom

5. Two ways to spell [h] are <h> and <wh>.

6. You can hear the sound [th] at the beginning of thing.

7. Underline the letters in the words below that spell [th]. Be careful! Some of the words do not contain [th] — and so in these words you should not underline any letters:

8. Sort the words into these groups:

Words with [th]: Words with no [th]:
something light
thank short
earth might
thought often
thirty high
through church
thin where
without hothead

9. The two words with <th> but not [th] are lighthouse and hothead.

10. How many ways did you find to spell [th]? One

11. How to Spell [th]. The sound [th] is always spelled <th>

That is an easy rule — and a good one!

Word Pyramids. The following Pyramids consist of words that contain the sound [h] spelled :

Teaching Notes. The sound [h] is very common in word-initial position; it practically always element-initial, and always syllable-initial. The <wh> spelling of [h] occurs only in who, whole, whore and their derivatives. In most cases <wh> spells [w] or [hw], more accurately , with a very light initial [h] sound. For more on [h], and especially on the <wh> spelling, see AES, pp. 386-90.

Item 11. The sound [th] actually has three very minor spellings beyond the major <th> : In a handful of very technical words [th] is spelled <tth> : phthisis (“a wasting away, consumption”, also pronunced with a [t] rather than [th]), phthiocol (“a substance produced by a certain human bacillus”), etc. In chthonic [th] is spelled <chth>. In Matthew it is spelled <tth>. For more on [th] (and its voiced counterpart [th], which will be discussed in the next lesson), see AES, pp. 384-86.

Word Pyramids. These two Pyramids have no single cell at the top because the name for the letter <h>, aitch, does not contain [h]. In the first Pyramid horse also contains the four-letter hers and hose; the three-letter her, and the two-letter ho. In the second Pyramid the only five-letter word with [h] contained in heated is hated; but heated contains also the four-letter head and hate; and the the three-letter had.

The word helicopter in Item 2, or more precisely its plural helicopters, is a good word for a continuing group quest: How many words that contain [h] spelled <h> can you find in the letters in helicopters? The following is, I believe, a fairly complete list: (8 letters) heelpost, heliport, helistop, hosteler, hotelier, (7 letters) heretic, hipster, holiest, holster, hospice, hostile, rosehip; (6 letters) helper, hereto, heroic, herpes, holier, hostel;(5 letters) heist, hoist, horse, hotel; (4 letters) heel, help, here, hero, hers, hilt, hire, hole, hope, hose, host; (3 letters) hep, her, hie, hip, his, hit, hoe, hop, hot; (2 letters) ha, he, hi, ho. Also there are the plurals of any singular nouns and the person singulars of any verbs in the preceding list that do not already contain .

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Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
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Jul 07, 2015
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