Magic 'e' - Silent 'e'


Read these pair of words out loud: on/one, us/use, hat/hate, tap/tape, at/ate, mat/mate, sit/site, cap/cape, at/ate, quit/quite, win/wine.



Did you notice the pronunciation/the vowel sound in the second word was longer?

When we add an 'e' to the end of a lot of words, especially short vowel sound words, it changes the sound and meaning. It makes the vowel sound long and say its alphabet name:
"a = ay," "e = ee," "i = eye," "o = oh," " u - you"
- hat/hate, pet/Pete, rid/ride, cod/code, us/use.

This silent 'e' is magic! It changes the sound and meaning of words but remains silent.


It also makes the 'g' soft, as in hug/huge, rag/rage, wag/wage, stag/stage.


Just one little silent 'e' changes the sound and meaning of a word! That's why it's so important to be careful about adding 'e' at the end of words.

The magic 'e' silent 'e' is called a marker. That means it doesn't represent a sound but tells us the sounds of the other letters in the word.

It's a marker of a long vowel sound. It makes the nearest vowel to it say its name - say it's alphabet name - a e i o u )

But we have exceptions - love/ glove/ above/ have /come/ some/ none / oven/ cover/ glove/ to live have short vowel sounds. When the academics decided to put the silent 'e' at the end of words to indicate a long vowel sound they ignored these old words.

Look at these words: age, alone, date, wine, life, shine, write, volume, those, twice, marmalade... they all have a long vowel sound:
*notice the pattern:

vowel + consonant + silent e = long vowel sound
age, alone, date, wine, life, shine, write, volume, those, twice, marmalade...

It also makes the final "th" more voiced and a long vowel sound:
breath / breathe, cloth/ clothe, bath/ bathe, and also loathe, lathe, writhe, seethe, soothe.


Here are some words that are changed with magic 'e' (the pronunciation of these is at the end of the spelling test podcast)

short vowel sound
magic 'e'  longer sound
at
ate
hat
hate
mat
mate
mad
made
scrap
scrape
pet
Pete
bit
bite
rid
ride
strip
stripe
slim
slime
pin
pine
quit
quite
sit
site
on
one
hop
hope
slop
slope
cop
cope
tap
tape
cap
cape
breath
breathe
cub
cube
tub
tube
us
use
hug
huge
rag
rage




spelling tests


Do a spelling test now and check you've understood this rule. There's always a difference between knowing a rule and actually spelling it correctly. Go on grab a pen and paper and prove you can do it.

Click here to do the spelling test




If you're interested in learning more about spelling rules check out my Spelling Rules Workbook

Or for newer more in-depth spelling rules lessons go to my online video course The Rules of English Spelling at curious.com -
click here to go to Curious.com/howtospell

spelling rules course