What is a Phonogram? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:03 Reading Processes
  • 0:30 Definition of Phonogram
  • 2:14 Examples of Phonograms
  • 5:41 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Understanding phonograms helps readers and writers decode words and spell words correctly. In this lesson, we will learn how phonograms are combined to create words.

Reading Processes

When you are reading, writing, or spelling, there are several processes that take place at once. You put together letter sounds to create words while using what you already know about the way sentences are put together and the meaning of words to make sense out of the words you decode. Each word you decipher is made up of phonograms. Let's learn more about phonograms.

Definition of Phonogram

What are phonograms? Phonograms are the letter symbols that comprise a sound. Phonograms may be made up of one letter or letter teams. For example, the /b/ in the word 'boy' is made up of a single letter 'b.' However, the /ch/ in the word 'chip' is comprised of a letter team 'ch' that come together to make a single sound.

Letter teams may be consonant teams, such as /ck/ in 'duck', or they may be vowel teams, such as the 'ai' in 'pail.' Letter teams also represent the 'r-controlled vowels,' such as /er/ in 'bird.' Letter teams may represent irregular sounds as well, such as 'ci' that contains the /sh/ in 'mortician.'

Every sound within a word has a phonogram to represent it. For example, in the word 'rip,' you hear three individual sounds (/r/-/i/-/p/), which are represented by three phonograms (r-i-p). However, in the word 'right,' you also hear three individual sounds (/r/-/i/-/t/) that are represented by the phonograms (r-igh-t). The number of phonograms matches the number of sounds, but does not necessarily match the number of letters that are used to create that sound.

Understanding phonograms makes decoding and spelling words much easier. Let's review some phonograms you should learn.

Examples of Phonograms

We will start with letter phonograms. Each of the letters of the alphabet represents at least one phonogram; however, some letters represent more than one phonogram. Here are a few irregularities:

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