When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking
"When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking" is a spelling rule used when teaching English-speaking children that says that when there are two vowels in a word the first one has the so-called "long" sound of the vowel (or alphabet name), and the second one is not pronounced.
For example, in train the a has the so-called “long” a sound and i does not sound. The same happens for each, die, goat, and rescue.
Unfortunately, this rule is false 60% of the time. Counterexamples: head, chief, pause, out, biscuit.
The first one does the talking
- "ai" /eɪ/: aid - train - wait
- "ea" /iː/: beach - clean - dream
- /e/: bread - health - leather
- /eɪ/: break - great - steak
- "ee" /iː/: fee - keep - sleep
- "ue" /(j)uː/: clue - due - blue
- /iː/: ceiling - conceive - receipt
- /eɪ/: eight - neighbour - weigh
- /aɪ/: lies - fried
- /iː/: chief - field
The rule doesn't work
- "au" /ɔː/: cause - author
- /uː/ school - goose
- /ʊ/: foot - good
- "ou" /aʊ/: about
Both vowels do the talking
With a little imagination, instead of exceptions the following patterns are examples of rules for diphthongs.
- "ew" /(j)uː/: few - flew - new
- "oi" /ɔɪ/: choice
- All about Learning Press, When Two Vowels Go Walking