THE ABCs of PQs

 

 AtoZ

 LN

Name

 COM

Common

 SL

Silent

 SW

Schwa

 X-S

Similar

 X-D

Different

 BL

Blended

 CL

Combined


Letters can be strange. They can make different sounds depending on how they are used in words. For example, listen carefully to the different ways the letter “A” sounds in these words: 

 

 

Cake   Boat   Dad   Soda   Ball   Said

 

 

 From A to Z: all the letters have more than one sound, and many letters have 3 or more. These differences in the ways letters can sound can be very confusing. Learning to recognize which sound each letter in a word is supposed to make, is the KEY to becoming a good reader. 

 

 

PQs is the short name for “Pronunciation Cues”. PQs “cue”, or, “tell” you, which of a letter’s sounds it is supposed to sound like. PQs makes letters tell you which of their sounds they are making by changing how the letters look. For example, see how different the letter “A” looks when we use the PQs:

 

 

Cake   Boat   Dad  Soda   Ball  Said

 

Did you notice how the letter “A” looked different when it sounded different? Those different ways the letters looked are “PQs”. PQs are ways of making letters look different so that they can tell you which of their sounds they are making.

 

 

 By using the PQ App and paying attention to the different ways letters look when they make their different sounds, you will learn all you need to learn, to read better. However, if you would like to learn more about the different types of Pcues, just keep reading this page. 

 

 

There are three types of Pcues: Single Letter Simple, Single Letter Exception, and Group Letters.


 

Single Letter Simple: Bold, Silent, and Common

 

 

PQs makes letters bold, to tell you when they are making their letter-name, or alphabet sound. PQs makes letters gray, to tell you when they don’t make any sound at all. Watch and listen to each word below, and notice how the letters that are bolded sound like their letter-name sound, and the letters that are gray are not heard at all:

 

Ape    Baby    Icy    Lady    Left
Gene   
High    Jay    Skate    Bell   
Ten    Boat    Car   
Bumpy    Dress  Excuse    Envy   Exact   Why

  

 

 

Did you notice that some letters weren’t bold, or gray? That’s because they are making their most common sound. Like the “a” in apple, or the “c” in cat. With PQs, you can always tell when a letter is making its common sound, because it looks normal – because it doesn’t have a different look. Here are some words where all the letters in each word are making their common sounds:

 

 

bat  cup  jet  land  pet  red  sand  up  win  six

 

Single Letter Exceptions

 

In addition to the PQs you have seen so far (bold for letter-names, gray for silent letters, and normal for common sounds), there are PQs to help you recognize the other different ways letters can sound.

 

A’s, E’s, I’s, O’s, and Y’s can sometimes sound like “uh“.  When they do, we shrink them to tell you that they are making the “uh” sound:

 

 

Away   Soda   Angel   Item   Family
Possible   Son   Love   Vinyl   Daryl

 

 

The “er” sound you hear in “her”, and “burger”, can also be heard in many other words that use an “R“, but don’t use an “E” in front of it. For example, listen for the “er” sound in these words: 

 

 

 Sugar   Lizard   Worm   Color   Girl    Pearl  Ogre    Fire   Syrup

 


PQs tells you when the letter “R” is making it’s “er” sound by rotating the letter. Look at these words with PQs turned on and notice how the “R” is rotated:

 

 

Sugar   Lizard   Her   Letter   Worm
Color   Girl   Pearl   Ogre    Fire   Syrup

 

 

Sometimes letters can make a longer and more drawn out sound, like the way the “A” sounds in “ball”, and the way the “O” sounds in “dog”. When they do, we stretch the letter to tell you:

 

 

Taco   Tall   Obama   Strong   Frog   Coffee

 

 

PQs also stretches the letter “U”, whenever it makes it’s “whuh”, sound:

 

 

Quote   Banquet   Cuisine   Language
Persuade

 

The two other kinds of Single Letter Exception PQs are raised and lowered. Sometimes, letters can make too many sounds for PQs to tell you exactly what sound they are making. When this happens, we raise the letter when it is making a “higher” sound, and lower the letter when it is making a “lower” sound. For example, to tell you that the “S” at the end of “his”, and “hers”, is making a “Z” sound, we raise it. Look and listen to the raised letters in these words: 

 

 

Buddies   Serious   Moon   Tube   Type

 

 

When ‘E’ makes an “A” sound, it is making a lower sound. When “G” makes a “J” sound it is making a lower sound. Look and listen to the lowered letters in these words.

 

Eight   Ginger   Onion   Book   Put   Synonym

 

 

Group Letters: 

 

 

Often the sounds you hear in words are made by the way two or more letters “group” together.  There are two kinds of groups: “combinations” and “blends”.  

 

 

Combinations are groups of letters that don’t sound anything like the individual letters within them. To tell you which letters are making combination sounds, we underline them. Pay careful attention to the sounds the underlined letters are making in the words below: 

 

 

Them  Peach  Phone  Cough  Capture
Motion  Toy   Boil  Vision  Ancient  Amateur

 

 

Blends are groups that sound like their letters are mashed together and spoken faster. With blends you can hear the individual sounds of the letters within them. To tell you which letters are blending together, we underline them with dashes. Pay careful attention to the sounds of letters that have dashes underneath them in the words below: 

 

 

Air   Bear   Their   Care   Weird    Length
Eating   Four   Cure  Pyramid

 

 



Once you learn to recognize the different PQs and how they tell you to make a letter or group of letters sound, you will learn to recognize words much easier. 

 

If you are interested in learning more about PQs you can visit our grid of examples that lists each letter of the alphabet and the types of PQs that it uses: AtoZ 

You can also review the PQs Key which provides additional examples by PQ types.

 

 AtoZ

 LN

Name

 COM

Common

 SL

Silent

 SW

Schwa

 X-S

Similar

 X-D

Different

 BL

Blended

 CL

Combined