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THE PARTS OF SPEECH [ ? ]
MISUSED ENGLISH WORDS
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The English Alphabet
Letters, Vowels and Consonants
The English Alphabet consists of twenty-six letters:
a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z
Letters are divided into Vowels and Consonants.
We can perfectly sound the letters of vowels without the aid of another letter. The vowels are a, e, i, o, u.
The remaining letters are called consonants. The term consonant implies that we can use this class of letters only with vowels to form syllables.
Some grammarians add w and y to the list of vowels. Strictly speaking, these are never vowels. The former often combines with e to represent one of the sounds of u (new, pew), and with a to represent one of the sounds of that letter (saw), and with o to represent long o (snow), or the diphthong ou (cow). The letter y is often used as a substitute for i (my, happy, myrtle), but its distinctive purpose is purely consonantal.
A Diphthong is the union of two vowels in one sound.
When we sound both vowels, the diphthong is called Proper, because then it is really a Diphthong, or double sound; that is, the sounds of the vowels unite: oi in oil; ou in sound.
When we sound only one of the vowels, the diphthong is called Improper, because then, as one of the vowels is silent, it is not properly a Diphthong, though it takes that name: oa in boat, ui in suit, where o and i are silent.
The following diphthongs are in common use: oi, oy, ou, ow, ae, ai, au, aw, ay, ea, ei, eo, eu, ew, ey, ia, ie, oa, oe, ua, we, ui; as in toil, boy, round, plow, seal, coal, head, sail, say, aught, yeoman. Of these, oi, oy, ou, and ow are generally proper diphthongs; though sometimes ou and ow are improper, as in famous, where o is silent, and in slow, where w is silent.
A Triphthong is the union of three vowels in one syllable; as, eau in beau, iew in view. The triphthong is properly a union of letters, not sounds.