What Is a Vowel Pattern?

While English uses only six vowel letters, there are several combinations of these letters, called vowel patterns, that form a myriad of different sounds. Some examples of vowel patterns include "ee," "ea," "ie," "ea" and "ay."

Understanding vowel patterns is a useful way to learn how to read and spell English words. Some vowel patterns, like "ee," have a fairly consistent pronunciations, making them good patterns for new readers or English learners to study. Others, like "ea," have many different pronunciations and uses, making them more difficult to learn. For example, "bear," "each," "earth," "heart," "ocean," "great" and "idea" all contain the "ea" vowel pattern, but each word pronounces the vowel pattern differently.