Digraph Examples & Word Lists What is a Digraph?

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Digraph Definition

A digraph is a combination of two letters that work together to spell a single sound.

The five most common consonant digraphs are ch-, sh-, th-, ph-, and wh-.

Digraph Word Origin

Digraph is a Greek word that actually describes two letters that come together. The first two letters di means two, and graph means written. So, the word digraph refers to something that is written that has two parts, in this case, two letters.

How to Teach Digraphs

Once your kids are reading three and four-letter words, they are typically ready to learn about digraphs. This is because they have been speaking many words with digraphs in them, even though they may not have known that.

Teaching digraphs is easy when you explain how two consonants come together to spell a new sound in this way.

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The Story of Consonant Digraphs and Blends

Rick lives next door to Bonnie, and when they get together, they both get to say their individual sounds: ‘B’ and ‘R,’ like in broom and brown.

You hear both the b and the r sound.

The /br/ is called a blend because we hear both of their sounds.

So, blends are two or three letters that come together to spell more than one sound.

Some other common blends are tr like in trip, st like in stop, and dr like in dress.

On the other hand, when Cathy and Harry get together and each say their sound out loud, /k/ like in cat and /h/ like in horse, it sounds really weird.

So they decided to come together to make a new sound /ch/ like in chat, chip, and each. And, when this happens, the ch is called a digraph.

You can see that the two letters c and h came together to spell the single sound /ch/.

The single sound the two consonants make is called a single phoneme.

👉 Take a look at Scholar Within’s summer reading program to find this story and more taught through video lessons.

After the Story of Consonant Digraphs and Blends

After introducing digraphs in the story, we often think of other names that could come together to make a consonant digraph.

  • Sam and Helen /sh/
  • Tom and Harry /th/
  • Patty and Hudson /ph/
  • William and Hazel /wh/

From there, we start thinking of other words that use the digraphs. We typically start making a list of words that begin with the digraphs. Then we think of words that end with a consonant digraph.

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Consonant Digraph Examples Word List

Most of us are familiar with the common digraphs. Here are some examples.

  • CH
  • PH
  • TH
  • SH
  • WH
  • CK

CH Digraph Example Word List

ch- digraphs
-ch digraphs
ch digraphs
/sh/ like in chef
(French origin)
ch digraphs
/k/ like in school
(Greek origin)
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PH Digraph Example Word List

ph- digraphs
-ph- digraphs
-ph digraphs

SH Digraph Example Word List

sh- digraphs
-sh- digraphs
-sh digraphs

TH Digraph Example Word List

th- digraphs
“Noisy TH”
-th- digraphs
“Noisy TH”
-th digraphs
th digraphs
“Quiet TH”
-th digraphs
“Quiet TH”

WH Digraph Example Word List

wh- digraphs
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GH /f/ Digraph Example Word List

-gh digraphs
(German origin)

Words with Consonant Digraphs in the Middle of a Word

ch – anchor, apache, crochet

ph – elephant, orphan, cipher, hyphen, aphid

sh – bishop, cashier, worship

th – ethnic, gather, mother

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Silent Letter Digraphs

kn- digraphswr- digraphsgn- digraphsgh- digraphs

Silent Letter Digraphs at the End of a Word

-ck digraphs-gn digraphs-mb digraphs

Please note that the letter g is not always silent in words that are spelled with ign. When the syllable splits after the g, you will hear both the g and the n sound like in the words: ignore, signal, ignite, dignify, signify, and signature.

-ng Digraph and -nk Blend Word Examples

-nk is a consonant blend because you can hear two different sounds, but it helps to teach both the -ng and the -nk together because they both have the /Ĺ‹/ sound.

-ng digraphs-nk blends

Vowel Digraphs (Vowel Teams)

When teaching phonics lessons, it is important to teach not only consonant blends and consonant digraphs but also to teach vowel digraphs. Vowel digraphs are when two vowels come together as a team to spell a new sound. In Scholar Within’s spelling program, we teach these words as the vowel-vowel spelling pattern because the two vowels come together to spell one sound:  ai, ay, ee, ea, ie, ei, oo, ou, oe, ue, ey, ay, oy, oi, au.

Common Words with Vowel Digraphs (Vowel Teams)

Notice sometimes the same spelling of a digraph has more than one sound.

ai digraphsay digraphsau digraphsee digraphsea digraphsey digraphs
ie digraphsoo digraphsoe digraphsoy digraphsoi digraphsue digraphs
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Consonant Controlled Digraphs (R, W, and L-Controlled Digraphs)

Another type of vowel digraph is when a vowel combines with a consonant to spell one sound. There are three instances of vowels combined with a consonant to spell a new sound.

R-controlled digraphs

You find this with the r-controlled digraphs: ar, er, it, or, ur. We call them words in the vowel + r pattern.

ar – car, far, jar

er – her, every, verb

ir – bird, first, girl

or – for, short, work

ur – purse, purple, turn

W-controlled digraphs

You will find the w-controlled digraphs: aw, ew, ow. We call them words in the vowel + w pattern.

aw – lawn, saw, straw

ew – flew, new, stew

ow – brown, now, how

ow – arrow, snow, throw

L-controlled digraphs

You will find the l-controlled digraphs: al, el, il. ol, and ul. We call them words in the vowel + l pattern.

al – also, ball, hall

al – aloe, scalp, valley

el – cell, felt, yell

il – bill, fill, will

ol – doll, golly, solve

ol – fold, gold, roll

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Learning how two letters come together to spell a new sound is part of learning phonics skills. This is the next step after learning about consonant blends, where two letters come together, and each gets to say their own sound. Both learning blends and learning digraphs are an important part of every phonics program.

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