Decoding the letter I
- So-called “short i”, IPA phoneme /ɪ/, as in kit, fit, fitting, city or mirror
- So-called “long i”, IPA phoneme /aɪ/, as in price, find, bite, biting, final or spiral.
- Long "ir" monophtong (short vowel spelling), IPA phoneme /ɜː/, as in girl, bird or stirring
- Long "ir" triphthong (long vowel spelling), IPA sequence /aɪə/, as in fire, hire or hiring
I has also some less common pronunciations, sometimes in combination with other letters, and, of course, it can be used as schwa.
As a single letter[edit | edit source]
At the beginning or the middle of a word[edit | edit source]
- One syllable
- /ɪ/: big - bit - fill - fit - if - ill - in - inch - ink - inn - is - it - kill - kit - lick - live (verb) - print - quit - tip - wind (noun)
- /aɪ/: bind - blind - child - climb - find - grind - I - I'll - I'm - I've - kind - mild - mind - pint - wild - wind (verb)
- Pattern vowel-consonant-vowel
A single consonant can mean anything, but a double consonant (or ck) means the sound is /ɪ/ (or /ə/) and not /aɪ/.
|Vowel||Single consonant||Double consonant|
|/ɪ/||city - critic - figure - finish - idiot - initial - limit - living - minute (60 seconds) - river - similar - visit - wizard||chicken - committee - different - difficult - dinner - Finnish - fitting - illegal - illusion - innocent - issue - killing - mirror - mission - Mississippi - ticket - trigger - village|
|/aɪ/||final - icon - idea - ideal - idol - item - miner - minor - minute (very small) - pilot|
- Several syllables
- /ɪ/: independent - input - insult - solid - until
- /aɪ/: behind - bible - idle - library - remind - rewind
- /ə/: compatible - council - pencil - recipe /ˈresəpɪ/
- As a gerund
- /ɪ/: adding - going - playing - reading - studying
At the end of a word[edit | edit source]
- One syllable
- Several syllables
- /aɪ/: alibi, rabbi
- /iː/ or /ɪ/: bikini, broccoli, confetti, khaki, macaroni, origami, pepperoni, safari, spaghetti, sushi, taxi, tsunami, wiki, zucchiniAmE (BrE courgette)
- /iː/: kiwi
Combined with consonants[edit | edit source]
igh[edit | edit source]
- /aɪ/: bright, fight, flight, high, knight, light, might, night, right, sigh, sight, slightly, tight
ig[edit | edit source]
- "ig" as /aɪ/: align, assign, benign, design, malign, resign, sign
- "ig" as /ɪg/: ignore, signal, signature, significant
ir[edit | edit source]
- /ɜː/: bird - birth - circle - dirty - firm - first - girl - shirt - sir - skirt - virtual
- /ɪ/: miracle - spirit
- /aɪ/: environment - irony - ironic - spiral - virus
- Sequence /aɪə/: acquire - fire - hire - inspire - iron /ˈaɪərn/ - require - retire - wire
- /ɪ/: irrational - irregular - irritate - mirror - squirrelBrE
- /ɜː/: squirrelAmE - stirred - stirring
Silent i[edit | edit source]
Combined with a vowel[edit | edit source]
With magic e[edit | edit source]
- /aɪ/: bike - fine - life - like - line - live (adj.) - provide - time - while - wise - write
- apologise/apologize - organise/organize - prioritise/prioritize - recognise/recognize
With silent e[edit | edit source]
- /ɪ/: determine - discipline - engine - famine - imagine - indefinite - jasmine - live (v.) - medicine
- /iː/: Christine - elite - machine - magazine - marine - police - routine
As /j/[edit | edit source]
- /jə/: behavior,AmE behaviour,BrE billion, Brazilian, brilliant, civilian, communion, companion, million, onion, opinion, Spaniard, union
- /iː.ə, jə/: auxiliary, billiards
- /iː.ə,BrE jəAmE/: Australian, convenience, familiar, genius, junior, magnolia, peculiar, pneumonia, senior
ie[edit | edit source]
Main article: Decoding exercises: "ie"
- /iː/: achieve - believe - field - piece - series
- /aɪ/: die - lie - tie
- As a suffix to nouns or as a diminutive or familiar name (the same words can often be spelt y):
- auntie/aunty - Bobbie/Bobby - caddie/caddy - hippie/hippy - hoodie/hoody - Jimmie/Jimmy - Johnnie/Johnny
ia[edit | edit source]
Main article: Decoding exercises: "ia"
- /ɪ/: carriage, marriage
- /ə/: commercial, essential, initial, financial, official, parliament, potential, social, special
- In different syllables
- /iːə/: appropriate - associate (adj., n.) - immediate - industrial - variable
- /iːeɪ/: appreciate - associate (v.)
- /iːɪ/: foliage /ˈfəʊliːɪdʒ/
- /iːæ/ Diana /daɪˈænə/ - Diane /daɪˈæn/
- /aɪə/: dialogue - dialogAmE - giant - trial
- /iːə/ or /aɪə/: via
Homophones[edit | edit source]
See main article Homophone.
- bite - byte; die - dye; hi - high; I - eye; right - rite - write; sign - sine; site - sight; size - sighs; time - thyme;
Heteronyms[edit | edit source]
/ɪ/ vs /aɪ/
- liver: internal organ - more live
- lives: third person of verb "live" - plural of "life"
- wind: air movement - to tighten a spring
References[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
- Decoding the letter Y
- Decoding and spelling exercises: /ɪ/ vs /aɪ/
- Decoding exercises: "ia"
- Decoding exercises: "ie"
- Decoding exercises: "io"
- Decoding exercises: "iu"
- Decoding exercises: "ir"
- Decoding exercises: "irr"
- Decoding exercises: "irV", "yrV", "irrV" and "yrrV"
- Decoding exercises: "ai"
- Decoding exercises: "ei"
- Decoding exercises: "oi"