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English Sounds and Spelling (#8), by Dennis Oliver


English Sounds and Spelling #8:


In general, the spelling a + one or more consonants
shows the vowel / ae / (the vowel sound in bat).


am, an, and, ant, apt, as, asp, at;
bad, bag, ban, band, bash, bat, batch;
cad, camp, can, can't, cap, cash, cast, cat, catch;
chant, chap, chat, clam, clan, clap, crab, cramp, crass;
dab, dad, dam, damp, drab, dram, drastic;
fad, family, fan, fast, at, flab, flag, flap, flash, flask, flat;
gab, gad, gap, gas, gash, glad, glamour, gland,
grab, grad, gram, grant, grapple, grasp . . . . . etc.



Special Notes


The spelling a + one or more consonants
shows / ae / in most cases, but this is not true
if one of the consonants is r:

Compare cab / can / cat and car;

Compare camp and carp;

Compare pack and park;

Compare patch and parch.


The spelling a + l shows / ae /, but a + ll
shows a different sound:

Compare gal / pal and gall / pall.

The same is true for a + l and a + l +
(an)other consonant(s):

Compare Hal (a man's name) and halt.

Compare Sal (a woman's name) and salt.


There are also a few common words with the
spelling -lm. The vowel before -lm is usually
not /
ae /:

alms, calm, palm.

4.   In the common words calf and half,
the vowel is / ae / (and the l is silent).

The common verb have is pronounced with
/ ae /, but this spelling is an exception to the
general spelling and pronunciation rules.

Compare have with hale, hate, and haste.

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