Comparing Phonologically Regular & Irregular Words

Instructor: Rachel Noorda
While some words follow the common patterns and rules for sound structure in English, other words do not. This lesson discusses the sound structure of words and how you can distinguish regular words from irregular words.

What is Phonology

Do you remember how you first learned to read and write? You learned the types of sounds that letters made, particularly how when you combined certain letters together, they made certain sounds (such as that when 'p' and 'h' are combined that make a sound that is different than the two sounds separately). But in this process of learning to read and write, you probably also quickly discovered that there are some sounds in English that break the rules and can be quite confusing.

How did you learn to read and write?

When you were first learning what types of sounds letters made, you were using phonology. Phonology is the sound structure of a word. When you are first learning to read, you learn that each vowel usually makes a certain sound and that each consonant usually makes a certain sound. Words that follow the normal patterns of sound structure are regular words, while irregular words are more difficult to learn to decode. Let's take a look at some examples of regular and irregular words.

Regular Words

Regular words are words that you read by using common letters sounds. When learning about the letter 'A' in school, you learn that it often makes the sound that is in words like flag, snap, last, pant, grass, sand, and camp. These words all use the same 'A' sound.

You also learn the same thing about 'E' in words like best, sent, help, next, and bent or 'I' in trick, swim, trip, cliff, shift, and twin. 'O' often makes the sound found in words like frog, cross, drop, slob, or soggy. 'U' commonly makes the sound found in the words stump, skunk, trunk, blunt, or crust.

Irregular Words

Irregular words are words that have unique letter sounds that are not very common. You have to memorize the way these words are said because they do not conform to the normal conventions of letters sounds in English.

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