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A Grammar of the English Tongue
by [?]

The short a approaches to the a open, as grass.

The long a, if prolonged by e at the end of the word, is always slender, as graze, fame.

A forms a diphthong only with i or y, and u or w. Ai or ay, as in plain, wain, gay, clay, has only the sound of the long and slender a, and differs not in the pronunciation from plane, wane.

Au or aw has the sound of the German a, as raw, naughty.

Ae is sometimes found in Latin words not completely naturalized or assimilated, but is no English diphthong; and is more properly expressed by single e, as Cesar, Eneas.


E is the letter which occurs most frequently in the English language.

E is long, as in sc[=e]ne; or short, as in c[)e]llar, s[)e]parate, c[)e]lebrate, m[)e]n, th[)e]n.

It is always short before a double consonant, or two consonants, as in v[)e]x, p[)e]rplexity, rel[)e]nt, m[)e]dlar, r[)e]ptile, s[)e]rpent, c[)e]llar, c[)e]ssation, bl[)e]ssing, f[)e]ll, f[)e]lling, d[)e]bt.

E is always mute at the end of a word, except in monosyllables that have no other vowel, as the; or proper names, as Penelope, Phebe, Derbe; being used to modify the foregoing consonants, as since, once, hedge, oblige; or to lengthen the preceding vowel, as b[)a]n, b[=a]ne; c[)a]n, c[=a]ne; p[)i]n, p[=i]ne; t[)u]n, t[=u]ne; r[)u]b, r[=u]be; p[)o]p, p[=o]pe; f[)i]r, f[=i]re; c[)u]r, c[=u]re; t[)u]b, t[=u]be.

Almost all words which now terminate in consonants ended anciently in e, as year, yeare; wildness, wildnesse; which e probably had the force of the French e feminine, and constituted a syllable with its associate consonant; for in old editions words are sometimes divided thus, clea-re, fel-le, knowled-ge. This e was perhaps for a time vocal or silent in poetry as convenience required; but it has been long wholly mute. Camden in his Remains calls it the silent e.

It does not always lengthen the foregoing vowel, as gl[)o]ve, l[)i]ve, g[)i]ve.

It has sometimes in the end of words a sound obscure, and scarcely perceptible, as open, shapen, shotten, thistle, participle, metre, lucre.

This faintness of sound is found when e separates a mute from a liquid, as in rotten, or follows a mute and liquid, as in cattle.

E forms a diphthong with a, as near; with i, as deign, receive; and with u or w, as new, stew.

Ea sounds like e long, as mean; or like ee, as dear, clear, near.

Ei is sounded like e long, as seize, perceiving.

Eu sounds as u long and soft.

E, a, u, are combined in beauty and its derivatives, but have only the sound of u.

E may be said to form a diphthong by reduplication, as agree, sleeping.

Eo is found in yeoman, where it is sounded as o short; and in people, where it is pronounced like ee.


I has a sound long, as f[=i]ne; and short as f[)i]n.

That is eminently observable in i, which may be likewise remarkable in other letters, that the short sound is not the long sound contracted, but a sound wholly different.

The long sound in monosyllables is always marked by the e final, as th[)i]n, th[=i]ne.

I is often sounded before r, as a short u; as flirt, first, shirt.

It forms a diphthong only with e, as field, shield, which is sounded as the double ee; except friend, which is sounded as fr[)e]nd.

I is joined with eu in lieu, and ew in view; which triphthongs are sounded as the open u.


O is long, as b[=o]ne, [=o]bedient, corr[=o]ding; or short, as bl[)o]ck, kn[)o]ck, [)o]blique, l[)o]ll.

Women is pronounced wimen.

The short o has sometimes the sound of close u, as son, come.

O coalesces into a diphthong with a, as moan, groan, approach: oa has the sound of o long.