What Are CVC Words?

cvc-words Credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões/CC-BY 2.0

CVC words, or consonant-vowel-consonant words, are three-letter words with a consonant at the beginning, a vowel in the middle and a consonant at the end. Every CVC word follows the same pattern and uses the short sound of its particular vowel. Therefore, CVC words sharing the same vowel, such as "lap" and "pan," also share the same vowel sound.

CVC words are the first words taught in many phonics programs. These words, together with two-letter vowel-consonant, or VC, words, help students learn the most common sounds letters make. Additionally, all CVC words include continuous sounds that can be prolonged vocally. This makes it easier to learn the sound each letter in a word makes by saying each sound out loud.

Educators use CVC words in different ways to demonstrate various alphabetical principles. For example, lists of CVC words with the same two letters at the beginning but different last consonants, such as "sad," "sat" and "sag," help develop pattern recognition.

Learning CVC words gives students basic alphabetical understanding. It helps them understand that words are composed of letters, associate each alphabetical character with a corresponding sound and blend these sounds to identify words.

Once students master CVC words, they move on to more complex words. Examples include CCVC words with a consonant blend at the beginning, such as blend or flat, and longer CCCVC or CCCVCC words, such as scrap or scrimp.