Press the player above and listen to this famous anonymous poem about the strangeness of English spelling vs pronunciation.

Many vowel sounds changed over the centuries but the spelling remained fixed, so that's why we have these strange pronunciations.

Check out the letter patterns in the poem: -ough/-ea-/-eat/-ear/-ose

Read the following poem or listen to it (I've adapted the poem a bit.)

 I take it you already know
Of tough and cough and dough?
But what about, hiccoughthorough and through?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird,

And dead: it's said like bed, not bead --
For goodness sake don't call it 'deed'

Watch out for meat and great and threat...
They rhyme with suite and straight and debt.

(meat-suite, great-straight, threat-debt.)

There isn't a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, or broth in brother,

And here is not in there
But ear is in dear and fear
But not in bear and pear;

And then there's dose and rose
But lose, goose and choose,

And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword,

And do and go and thwart and cart --
Come, come, I've hardly made a start!

dreadful language? Man alive!
I'd learned to speak it when I was five!

But will I write it before I die?
I hope so, I say with a sigh!


Improve your spelling by knowing the reasons why spelling is so weird and wonderful.

spelling lessons

Two great ways to improve your spelling are knowing where words come from and taking an interest in words. That means

  • knowing the reasons why English spelling is so 'weird' 
  • understanding the history of why spelling is the way it is
  • understanding why we have so many words with the same or similar meanings

spelling books 

Get instant online access to my ebook, with audio version, for only £5.97

Also, available on amazon for kindle but in black and white not full colour/color here.

Your book ‘The Reasons Why..." is a real classic – it has taught me a lot – it should be in curriculums everywhere. Adam "