In the Beginning....

The Alphabet

The primary elements of the English language are letters. They have two important properties, sounds and shapes. The shapes we will consider fully under the "Writing" tab. For now the shape of the letters is given here simply as a means of identification.

In the English language there are twenty-six (26) letters. Each one has two forms, "big" and "small" or, technically, "upper case" and lower case". The form makes no difference to the sound that is assigned to a letter. Here are all 26 letters, each shown in both forms:-

Aa:Bb:Cc:Dd:Ee:Ff:Gg:Hh:Ii:Jj:Kk:Ll:Mm:Nn:Oo:Pp:Qq:Rr:Ss:Tt:Uu:Vv:Ww:Xx:Yy:Zz

The sounds of letters are not the first thing a child learns. Parents speak to children using words and it is the sounds of words that the child first imitates. The child's sounds are imperfect at first. Often only the parents, sometimes just one of them, can recognise the first sounds as words. Practice makes perfect. You have the facility of speech but you may perhaps not fully understand how the sound components of individual letters make up the total sound of a word.

Sounds

To learn to read it is useful to know the sounds of all letters. Perhaps you have learned English as a foreign language and can read and write but not speak it fluently. This site will help you because the recommended system for learning to read is a "phonic" method. There is no better system for learning to read that Mona McNee's web site www.phonics4free.org which can be reached via this link. This series of lessons assumes no knowledge other than some understanding of the letters. Although it may appear that McNee's site is directed at children you will note that she, herself, states that it is good for all ages. Depending on your ability and the time that you are prepared to spend Ms McNee suggests that just 100 days will be sufficient. Along the way there are many useful hints on spelling and general English usage.

Words

Giving you the ability to recognise, form and make the sound of words is the objective of Ms McNee's work. This ability represents the art of reading. It is accessible to anyone who makes the effort and gives due time to the necessary exercises. You will find that little in life is so worthwhile or so rewarding. If letters are the building blocks of words then words are the foundations of logical thought, art and life itself.

Sentences

In following Ms McNee's course you will notice from material that you have in your own home or that you buy or from this site that all written items from short newspaper or magazine articles to books of any length that words are grouped together. These groups are called sentences. In general, sentences are collections of words between and which may include punctuation marks. There will be more details of these marks under the "Writing" and "Grammar" tabs. In speech they are not mentioned although their presence can be detected from intonations and pauses.

And More

Sentences added to sentences make paragraphs. These usually start on a new line and end with a punctuation mark whether or not the full line length available has been filled.

Many paragraphs make chapters and a collection of chapters complete a book. Following this progression, once you have mastered the reading of words you can appreciate anything from single word street signs to the great works of fact and fiction that are available in the English language.

Reading

The Alphabet

Sounds

Words

Sentences

And More

A SHORT ENGLISH GRAMMAR

CLICK to BUY: A Short English Grammar for your KINDLE