See The 46 Basic Phonics Rules That Every Reading Program Teaches

We'll show you how we improved these rules.

Download :46 Basic Phonics Rules

Are the rules now in your hands?  Great! you are the proud owner of a genius/ masterpiece from about the 1920's.  These rules, (officially:Orton Gillingham phonograms) are so powerful that they appear in virtually every phonics program to this day.

Below, you can see these rules hard at work.  They are deciphering a portion of Bible Proverbs. (The Bible is the most printed literature in English.  A good choice for English phonics) Each number under a word matches a sound listed in the far right hand column. After each sound is a list of different letters that make that sound. The sounds and letters together form "rules"

***The colored boxes point out where your new reader may have a problem or need to memorize words.

Sight Words Highlighted in Gray

Letters That Don't Follow Rules  Highlighted in Pink

Letters That Could Make More Than One Sound Highlighted in Yellow

The Proverbs Of Solomon 

         15 17    21 42 2               18 14 11   12 14 13

To know wisdom and

       13           22 8  3    12   1 13 3 


8 13 18 19 17 20 10 19 32  13

To discern the sayings of

       3 8 18 42 13         18 26 44


20 13 3 42 18 19 1 13 3 44

To receive instruction in wise

       17 27 18 27 21      same as above     8 13   22 28


2 27  7  26  21 46


17 28  19          18  13 4 18

justice and equity

9 20 18 18   1 13 3  4 16   19

Looking For Improvements? Anyone??

A young reader armed with these basic phonics rules could struggle through most of the paragraph you just read. 

7 sight words would need to be memorized before hand. 

13 letters or groups of letters would be tough to understand. 

These are the red and yellow letters that do not have one specific sound based on the rules.

So 20 letters or words that do not sound out smoothly out of 24 words.  Hmmm

How could this be improved?

Enter: English Decoder

Here is the same text deciphered with some of the English Decoder rules.  Brown numbers under words match our improved rules on far right.

Sight Words Highlighted in Gray

Letters That Don't Follow Rules  Highlighted in Pink

Letters That Could Make More Than One Sound Highlighted in Yellow

The Proverbs Of Solomon 

            12 3 4 5 6          7 3 9 8 3

To know wisdom and instruction,

11  12 13    . . . . . 8               . . . . . .14

To discern the sayings of understanding,

To receive instruction in wise behavior, 

Righteousness, justice and 

. . .       15                          


   . . .   16

In the same 24 words there were only

4 sight words +

8  letters do not have one clear sound that follows the rules.

Both sight words and letters that don't sound out were cut almost in half.

What a giant step towards easier and better reading.

Note: The . . . means I left some ED rules out.  This is just a sample. 

Letter position means: 

  • where a letter appears,
  • how long the word is,
  • and what letters are nearby.

These details are built into the brown English Decoder rules and make them  more specific and accurate.  This accounts for the improvement.

The numbers in this example agree with studies:

English is 75% more reliable when

letter sound, and letter position are considered.


* If you clicked studies and the link looked Greek, click back and look for the Background heading.  Read the 3rd paragraph.  Plug in these definitions: Phonogram is a reading rule.  Grapheme is a letter group.  Hope that helps.

How Do Basic English Decoder Rules Make Reading Easier To Teach and Learn
Primarily, our phonics makes reading easier by eliminating confusion over which sound to use.

Instead of teaching for instance that y can represent any of these 4 sounds in any word:

1. the first sound in yes
2. /I/ like the letter name
3. /E/ like the letter name and
4. the first sound in igloo

our phonics rules explain that:

1. y at the end of a 2 or 3 letter word says I
2. y at the end of a word with 4 or more letters says E
3. y when it is the first letter in a word says the first sound in yes or yellow
4. y in the middle of a word makes the sound an i would in the same position.

Explanations do not use syllables, vowels, or long and short sounds which can be tricky to explain to a young learner.

The next way our phonic rules makes reading easier is by reducing sight words and exceptions.

Letter sounds alone only tell you how to say 50-75 out of every 100 English words correctly. All the remaining words are exceptions to
be memorized. English Decoder is more accurate because it uses letter sounds plus explanations. It tells you how to say 95 out of 100 English words correctly.

There are many times fewer words that must be memorized.

The third way our phonics makes my job and yours easier is by giving beginner readers less to learn.

Teaching letter sounds alone calls for 108 basic facts. Many of these facts are repeats. They describe all the sounds a letter can say. Teaching letter sounds with an accurate explanation of what a letter does say requires only 92 basic facts. So we both have a little bit less to teach.

More on why standard phonics rules need an upgrade.

Learn more about English Decoder


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1. a as in apple:a

2. b as in bat: b

3. d as in dog: d, ed

4. e as in egg: e

5. f as in fish: f, ph,gh

6. g as in got: g,gh, gu or gue

7. h as in hat: h

8. i as in ink: i

9. j as in job: j, ge, gy, gi, dge

10. k as in kite: k, ck, c, ch,


11. l as in lap: l

12. m as in Mom: m

13. n as in nap: n, kn, gn

14. o as in the middle of mop: o

15. p as in pat: p

16. qu as in quilt: qu

17. r as in rug: r, wr,rh

18. s as in Sam : s, ce, ci, cy, se, ss

19. t as in Tom: t, ed

20. u as in up: u, ough, o

21. v as in van: v or ve

22. w as in win: w, wh

23. x as at the end of box: x

24. y as in yes: y

25. z as in zoo: z, s, se

26. a as in ape: ai, ay, a, ei, ey, eigh, a_e, ange/ aste,

27. e as in eat: ea, ee, e, ey, ie, ei, e_e, 

28. i as in ice: i, ie, y, igh, i_e

29. o as in the end of go: o, oa, ow, ,oe_ough, o_e

30. u as in use: u, oo, ue, ew,

eu, o_e

31. ch as in chair: ch, tch

32. sh as in ship: sh, ci, ti, si, ch

33. th as in this: th

34. th as in thing: th

35. ou as in ouch: ou, ow

36. oi as in oink: oi, oy

37. aw as in the middle of yawn: aw, au,

ough, augh

38. oo as in the middle of pool: oo, u, ew, ui,

ough, ou

39. oo as in the middle of cook: oo, ue,

ull/ ush

*40. ah as in open wide and say ahh!: a, ah

*41. all as in the end of ball: all, al_

42. ur as in pur: ur, er, ir,ear

43. ar as in star: ar

44. gn as in ring or strong: gn, ing

45. zh as in division: si, ti

46. or as in the end of for: or,

our, ore, oor, ar

* 40 is sometimes combined with 14 and 41 w

Basic Phonics Rules Made Better

 1. p= first sound in pear

2. r = first sound in red

3.o by itself=middle sound in mop

4. v/ve = first sound in van

4. er/ur/ir= last sound in stir

5. b=first sound in bell

6. s/se at end of a word = s as in sun or z as in zipper

7. s when it's the first letter in a word = first sound in sun

8. in a long word (6+ letters) 0, followed by any other letter then a,e,i,o,or u can say the middle sound in mop or O (like the letter name)

9. l= first sound in ladder

10. n= first sound in nest

11 t=first sound in tiger

12. kn= first sound in nest

13. ow= O or last sound in cow.

14. tion= shun

15. t/te followed by ous = first sound in chair.

16. y at the end of a word with 4 or more letters =E