1. Earlier we saw that, except for the word of, the sound [v] is always spelled one way.
That way is <v>.
One reason we have spellings with double letters like <pp> and <tt> is to mark the difference between long and short vowels:
But since we don't regularly use <vv>, we have no way to mark short vowels before [v] the way we use <pp> and <tt> to mark them before [p] and [t] in words like tapped and latter. So the letter <v> cannot tell us whether the vowel in front of it is long or short.
2. Put a ‘c’ for “consonant” under the <v> in each of the following words. Then mark the letter right in front of the <v> and the letter right after the <v> with either another ‘c’ if it's a consonant or with a ‘v’ if it's a vowel
3. You should have found that all twenty words have the same pattern. That pattern is VCV.
4. Sort the twenty words into the following two groups:
Words in which the <v> comes right after a . . .
5. Usually in the pattern VCV the first vowel is long. But do all of the words with <v> as the consonant in the pattern VCV have a long vowel right in front of the <v>? No.
6. The word ambiguous means “to be indefinite; to have more than one possible meaning.” Be ready to discuss this question: Why can we say that so far as long and short vowels are concerned, the letter <v> is ambiguous?
Word History.Ambiguous analyzes to ambl + ig + uous. The prefix amb(i)- means “both.” The base ig means “drive, lead, act.” The suffix -uous forms adjectives with a meaning like “tending to.” So ambiguous has a root meaning like “tending to drive both ways or act both ways, tending to wander around.”
Item 1. In English we avoid <vv> because in earlier English, before <u> and <v> came to be treated as two separate letters and were still used more or less interchangeably for spelling both vowel and consonant sounds, <uu>, or <vv>, grew together to become the letter <w>, “double-u” (see AES, pp. 128-29, 207-08).
Item 2. Avenue is from a French word that meant “arrival,” which is in turn from Latin advenire “to come to.” Its earliest meanings were more like “an approach,” especially the tree-lined drive leading to a country estate. It was not used to refer to a wide, often tree-lined city street until the 19th century. It analyzes to ad+ vene+ ue. Shovel comes from an Old English word and is related to shove and shuffle. Driver and driven illustrate nicely the ambiguity of <v> so far as the VCV pattern is concerned. Both are formed from the infinitive drive, with a long <i>. In driven (drive+ er) the <i> stays long; in driven (drive+ en) it is shortened to [i], as with other old past participles: ride, ridden; bite, bitten, etc.