Milk Truck Rule
/k/ is really the most difficult sound to spell for us.
Rule #25 says, “The phonogram ck may be used only after a single vowel that says its short sound.“
AGAIN, that just doesn’t complete the picture, so we state it this way:
K loves to end words, but he’s scared of short vowels sneaking up behind him, so C defends him if there’s no other sound.
We call it the Milk Truck Rule. As it was originally, it told you about back, stick, and puck, but it didn’t let you know about mask, milk, mark, and all the situations where he goes it alone. Why not masc, milc, and marc? Because K LOVES to end single syllable words. He just has this PHOBIA of short vowels sneaking up behind him and needs friends to protect him!
Short Vowel Conference (Not-So-MoDG)
Now that we have #25, we can put the short vowel picture together. If you hear a short-single-vowel in a single-syllable base word followed by:
- /j/, use DGE: bridge, fudge, Madge (rule #23)
- /ch/, use TCH: hatch, catch, pitch, crutch (rule #23a dyslexia)
- /k/, use CK: back, crick, puck, jock (rule #25)
Very few words break this pattern (much, such, rich, which).
What about more than one syllable? MAGIC Milk Truck Rule.
Multi-syllable short vowels? C likes to go it alone. (basic, magic, maniac, tarmac, etc.)
Random /z/ rule
I’m guessing you don’t need an explanation on capitalizing proper nouns (#26). So let’s hit the next one.
#27 /z/ is Z at the beginning of a word
That’s pretty easy to memorize. I don’t think there’s much to say here except that this rule needs a friend…
Z at the beginning, but what about anywhere else? That is usually an S. In fact anytime you hear a /z/, not up front, it’s usually an S.
/ED/, /D/, or /T/?
#28 Suffix ED says /d/ or /t/ UNLESS the base word ends in /d/ or /t/
We call this the VOICED/UNVOICED suffix rule. If you’re a word person, this is going to be kind of cool. It works for suffix “s” too.
Put your hand on your voicebox and say the word “dog” slowly. All three phonograms use your VOICE. Now try “stop.” S, T, and P are only AIR! No humming voicebox.
- If the ending sound is VOICED (vowels or b, g, j, l, m, n, r, v, z), use the voiced sound /d/: bugged, lived
- If the ending sound is UNVOICED (c, f, h, k, p, s, t, w), use the unvoiced sound /t/: pumped, bused, racked
- If the ending sound is ALREADY has an /d/ or /t/ component, add a spacer schwa (adds a syllable) /es/: dogged, butted
Again, Rule #28 gives us an incomplete picture. It tells you how to READ the ED correctly, but what if you HEAR /d/ or /t/? How do you know if it’s D, T, or ED? If you have a not-so-great speller, you likely have run into confusion telling the difference between words like “past” and “passed.” There is a helpful thing to remember here:
(Pumped Raft Rule) /d/or /t/ at the end? Regular past tense words use ED; base words use D or T.
/raft/ and /buft/; one is a base, one is past tense; raft, buffed
/pend/ and /bend/; one is a base, one is past tense; penned, bend.
For some, you would need the word in context: We passed a raft that looked like it was from the past.