Nemo is a "ghoti"? Stop clowning around!


Publicado por Sophie

My last article in English touched on some of the difficulties with spelling and pronunciation of the days of the week. Now I'd like to show you just how diverse English spelling is and how different spelling combinations can produce the same sounds. To do this, I'll be using the word 'fish'. By using English pronunciation logic (if we can call it that!) it's possible to spell 'fish' as "ghoti". I promise I'm not clowning around! .... Get it?....Because Nemo's a Clownfish?....Never mind! It was a bad joke....moving on!

So here's the explanation:

GH in English spelling has an "f" sound, like in the word 'enough'.

O in the word 'womenhas an "i" sound.

TI in English spelling has a "sh" sound, as in 'pollution'.

Therefore, hypothetically speaking, the word 'fish' in English could be spelt 'ghoti'. 

As English is so varied in terms of how words are written and pronounced, it's important to try to make connections between spelling and sound to aid your learning. Take a look at the following words. These all sound exactly the same although they're spelt differently:

there              their             they're           

All 3 words end in an "air" sound. On the other hand, some words which have similar spellings are pronounced differently:

bear                                                                  beard 

The vowel sounds like "air".                        The vowel sounds like "ear".

They shouldn't be confused with:

bird                                        and                                         beer

The vowel sounds like "er".                                               The vowel sounds like "ear"

So,  to summarise, 'there', 'their' and 'they're' sound exactly the same. 'Bear' sounds like 'there' and 'beer' sounds similar to 'beard' but 'bird' is completely different! Got it?            

Now, it's time to put your pronunciation to the test! Have a go at this exercise. Each group of words has identical spelling but 1 of the 3 words is pronounced differently. Select the word from each group which you think is pronounced differently to the others.


1. wood     blood     good

2. none     done       gone

3. nose      rose        lose

4. cut         shut        put

5. woke      worth     word

6. hood      boot       moon

7. tail         fair           mail

8. know     now        slow

9. paid        laid         said

10. bird       work      worn


How did you do? I invite you to get in touch with me via my profile with your answers and I'll provide feedback.

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