The Complete List of
English Spelling Rules

Lesson 1: the "Magic" E


In this series of lessons, you will learn useful spelling rules in English.

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The first lessons will cover silent letters in English, starting with the "magic" e.

the letter E

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The "magic" e comes at the end of a word that ends in a single vowel and a single consonant (for example: pine. There is a single vowel, i, before a single consonant, n, and then the "magic" e).

This e at the end is "magic" because it changes the vowel sound. In these words, the first vowel "says its name" (sounds like its name). And of course, the "magic" e changes the meaning of the word.

The "magic" e itself is completely silent.

For example, let's look at the word cap.

a man wearing a cap

A cap is a kind of hat that you wear on your head. This word is pronounced with a short a sound.

But what happens when we add the "magic" e at the end of the word? Well, the meaning of the word changes, and so does its pronunciation!

So, what is a cape?

a teacher wearing a cape

A cape is a something superheroes wear on their backs! This word is pronounced with a long a sound because of the "magic" e at the end.

We say that the letter a "says its name" because it is pronounced just the way you would name the letter if you wanted to say its name in English.

Remember that the "magic" e is silent!

This rule applies with all five vowels in English: a, e, i, o, and u.

Here are some more examples with the vowel a:

at ate
mad made
tap tape
hat hate

All of the words in the first column have a short a sound, and all the words in the second column have a long a sound because of the "magic" e at the end.

Here are some examples with the vowel e:

pet Pete
met mete

There are not many examples with the vowel e, but the same rule is true here. The words in the first column have a short e sound, and the words in the second column have a long e sound.

Here are some examples with the vowel i:

rid ride
quit quite
sit site
pin pine

The words in the first column have a short i sound, but the i "says its name" in the second column.

a pine tree

Here are some examples with the vowel o:

hop hope
cop cope
slop slope
cod code

The words in the first column have a short o sound, but the o "says its name" in the second column. These words have a long o sound.

Finally, here are some examples with the vowel u:

tub tube
hug huge
us use
cub cube

The words in the first column have a short u sound, but the u "says its name" in the second column.

a cup of coffee with sugar cubes

You can ask someone how many cubes of sugar they like in their tea.

But you can be sure they do not want any cubs, baby bears, in their tea!

a baby bear

There are a few common exceptions to this rule, like the words "have," "come," or "love." But in general, the rules discussed above will apply.

Review

So, let's review what we have learned about the "magic" e in English:
  1. The "magic" e itself is completely silent.

  2. The "magic" e comes at the end of words that end in a single vowel and a single consonant.

  3. The "magic" e makes the single vowel before it "say its name."

Download a free worksheet



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