Teaching Silent Final E: The Catch-all Rule

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If you have been tracking with my series of silent final e posts, you don’t want to miss Part 4: The Catch-all Rule. My students always enjoy this one because of its name and how it works!

So far, you know the first 3 rules for why an e appears at the ends of some words. It is important that I remind you of those rules before discussing Rule 4. As students become more and more familiar with Silent Final E words, they will be able to use them as a sort of litmus test for new Silent Final E words they encounter. When students find new words to read and spell, they will be able to analyze them and even code them. (To learn more about word coding, check out the Shurley English website: www.shurley.com.) But for now, I can explain Rule 4, The Catch-all Rule, if you understand the first three rules.

Let’s say a student is aware of a new Silent Final E word. The word is seize. After discussing the word’s meaning and using it in several sentences, it is time to lock it into memory so that the spelling becomes easy…except, the silent e at the end just doesn’t seem to fit any of the rules. It isn’t there to make the interior vowel long. We know this because

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So, what is the only solution? Simple, the e is just there BECAUSE IT IS! If the silent final e isn’t there for any of the first three rules, then it meets Rule 4, The Catch-all Rule. Some linguists call this a “lazy e” because it is just there and does nothing except occupy space.

Believe me, kids love to analyze Silent Final E words if they know the system. Just you wait, when you notice kids purposely identifying WHY a Silent Final E resides at the end of a word or syllable, their spelling ability soars.

For more helpful spelling (…and reading) hints, take a look at our first and second grade levels of Shurley English. You’ll be surprised at just how dependable and predictable the rules are!

(This post is part of a series on Silent Final E. To start at the beginning, click here.)

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David Lutz

David, a former classroom teacher, administrator, and self-proclaimed grammar nut, considers the oddities of English vocabulary and grammar his playthings! He received his degrees in elementary education, teaching, and curriculum design from CMU in Fayette, MO, and the University of St. Mary, Leavenworth, KS, respectively. His career has been a colorful collage of experiences in education, ranging from Kindergarten to Adult education and parenting classes.

 

He and his wife, Marjorie, have been blessed with 30 years of marriage, three grown sons, a cherished daughter-in-law, and the smartest, cutest grandson on the planet! He’s worked for Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc., for over 11 years and loves to help students and their teachers learn to love language and language learning as much as he does.

Silent Final E: The –le Ending Rule

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Back again with Part 3, which I call The –le Ending Rule for Rule 3.  If you have been checking in with my blog posts, I have been delving into the hows and whys of Silent Final E. (So far, we have discussed Rule 1 and Rule 2.)

Students easily understand this Rule 3 because it only has two major guidelines: 1) the word has to be more than one syllable long, and 2) the last syllable ends with –le. Sometimes, the last syllable may end with an “R” and needs a Silent Final E, but not as often in early vocabulary. Look at these examples. Imagine how they would be pronounced without the silent e.

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Did you notice that the pronunciation doesn’t really need the e in the final syllables? That’s because the last syllables in each of these examples contains an “L” (or an “R”). In the world of linguistics, “L” is sorta bossy…it likes to act like a syllable all by itself, even without a vowel to go with it. In an English syllable, that’s a No-No. So, we fix it by adding a Silent Final E after the syllabic “L”.
 

To recap, Rule 3 generally applies ANYTIME a multi-syllable word ends up with only consonants in its last syllable. Since all English syllables must have at least one vowel, we use an e. Look at the last syllables in these examples for a review. Now do you know why the e is there?

Silent Final E Rule 3 With Shurley ENlgish 2.png

Next time, we’ll conclude this series with The Catch-all Rule for Rule 4!

(This post is part of a series on Silent Final E. To start at the beginning, click here.)

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David Lutz

David, a former classroom teacher, administrator, and self-proclaimed grammar nut, considers the oddities of English vocabulary and grammar his playthings! He received his degrees in elementary education, teaching, and curriculum design from CMU in Fayette, MO, and the University of St. Mary, Leavenworth, KS, respectively. His career has been a colorful collage of experiences in education, ranging from Kindergarten to Adult education and parenting classes.

 

He and his wife, Marjorie, have been blessed with 30 years of marriage, three grown sons, a cherished daughter-in-law, and the smartest, cutest grandson on the planet! He’s worked for Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc., for over 11 years and loves to help students and their teachers learn to love language and language learning as much as he does.

Teaching Silent Final E: The V-C-G-U Rule

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In Part 1 for Silent Final E, I discussed how Rule 1, The Split Vowel Spelling Rule, can ease students into the concept of a silent final e that makes a middle vowel sound long. This installment will further explain why many English words end with the silent final e—but for a different reason that is easy for kids to recognize.

One of the attributes I love about words is that they come into use in English from far and wide. They come into use from other countries and other times in history. Sometimes the remnants remain intact, particularly when it comes to spelling the words. For this reason, it helps kids to know that there are several groups of words that follow an easy to recall pattern. I call this Rule 2, The V-C-G-U Rule. You see, these four letters will not stand by themselves at the end of words that originally derive from English. Notice, I said “words that derive from English.” This is another way of saying that words from English will not naturally end in one of these four consonants. They won’t stand alone at the end of English words; instead, they will be followed by a silent final e. Take a look at this short list:

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You may have noticed that I placed the phrase short i in parentheses after the word live. Because live can also be pronounced with a Long I sound, I needed to clarify it. If the word were pronounce with the Long I sound, then we would be referring back to Rule 1, The Split Vowel Spelling Rule. Once again, teaching like this provides logical, systematic explanations for the wonderful—but quirky—thing we call the English Language.

In each of the words listed, if the e WAS NOT THERE, it would leave a V, a C, a G, or a U, standing there—all alone—at the end of a word. It just isn’t supposed to happen! If it DOES happen, then students have a baseline of understanding that the particular word seems like an exception…well, it is—sort of. If you see that a word is ending in a V, C, G, or U and is NOT followed by an e, then we know something important about that word—it did not derive originally from English. It came to us from some other language. This becomes very important information, especially for young students who are trying to wade through spelling issues.

Next time, I will introduce you to Rule 3 for Silent Final E. It’s called Rule 3, The –le Ending Rule. Stay tuned!

(This post is part of a series on Silent Final E. To start at the beginning, click here.)


Comment /Source

David Lutz

David, a former classroom teacher, administrator, and self-proclaimed grammar nut, considers the oddities of English vocabulary and grammar his playthings! He received his degrees in elementary education, teaching, and curriculum design from CMU in Fayette, MO, and the University of St. Mary, Leavenworth, KS, respectively. His career has been a colorful collage of experiences in education, ranging from Kindergarten to Adult education and parenting classes.

 

He and his wife, Marjorie, have been blessed with 30 years of marriage, three grown sons, a cherished daughter-in-law, and the smartest, cutest grandson on the planet! He’s worked for Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc., for over 11 years and loves to help students and their teachers learn to love language and language learning as much as he does.