Decoding exercises: "ai"

From Teflpedia

air /eər/

wait /weɪt/

The sequence "ai" very reliably represents the diphthong /eɪ/. The sequence "air" very reliably represents the dipthong /eər/. Together with the article on decoding difficulties, this page sets out some common (or not...) words teachers can use to help their students become more aware of how they can sound out more correctly the different sounds corresponding to words containing "ai".


  • Adelaide, afraid, aid, aim, available, brain, campaign, chain, claim, complain, contain, daily, detail, entertain, explain, fail, faith, gain, hail, Haiti, jail, mail, main, Maine, maintain, paid, pain, paint, rail, rain, raise, remain, retail, snail, Spain, stain, straight, train, trait, wait
  • Homophones: mail - male; main - Maine - mane; raise - rays; waist - waste; wait - weight;


  • affair - air - chair - fair - hair - pair - repair - stair
  • Homophones: fair - fare; hair - hare; pair - pear; stair - stare


  • bargain - captain - certain - curtain - fountain - mountain - villain


  • porcelain

Variant pronunciations[edit]

  • As /e/ or /eɪ/: again - against
  • portrait /ˈpɔːrtreɪt,BrE , ˈpɔːrtrət/

Spelling anomalies[edit]

  • As /e/: said
  • As /aɪ/: Azerbaijan /æzərbaɪˈdʒɑːn/ - Hawaii /həˈwaɪiː/ - Taiwan - Thailand


See also[edit]