How many phonemes are there?
There are 44* phonemes in the English language, that is, there are 44 different sounds that make up all English words.
Many phonemes have more than one grapheme, that is, they can be written using different spellings, for example, f, ff, and ph are all graphemes for the phoneme /f/.
The sound chart below shows the phonemes that children are taught in Reception (UK) or Kindergarten (US) and Year 1 (UK) and Grade 1 (US). It also shows the most common graphemes that correspond to each phoneme and gives word examples for each.
For example, the word cup has 3 phonemes: /k/, /u/, and /p/. Each is represented by a simple grapheme or letter: c, u, p.
*this number can vary slightly depending on the dialect and the classification followed.
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Phonics is the method that helps children build systematic connections between letters and sounds. Phonics has a better impact on children’s reading ability than any other type of reading program. It has also been shown to improve spelling, particularly among Kindergarteners and First Graders.
To find out more, read our Deep Dive into Phonics report. This report provides an easy-to-understand overview of phonics and phonemic awareness - why they are important and how they are taught in the classroom - and explains all the relevant terminology. It's perfect for sharing with colleagues, friends, and to Google Classroom!