A Simple Guide to Word Families

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Photo Janelle Cox

Word Families are sometimes referred to as groups, chunks or rimes. A word family has something in common with each other, have it be the prefix, suffix or root word. For example, green, grass, grow all have the "gr" sound in the beginning of the word.

What are the Benefits?

Word families are important because they help young children recognize and analyze word patterns when they are learning to read.

When teaching analytic phonics, teachers use word families to help children understand these patterns and that certain words have the same letter combinations and sounds.

Most Common Word Families

According to researchers Wylie and Durrel, there are 37 common word families: ack, ain, ake, ale, all, ame, an, ank, ap, ash, at, ate, aw, ay, eat, ell, est, ice, ick, ide, ight, ill, in, ine, ing, ink, ip, it, ock, oke, op, ore, ot, uck ,ug, ump, unk.

  • ack- back, hack, pack, rack

  • ain - brain, chain, main, plain

  • ake - awake, bake, cake, fake

  • ale - ale, bale, sale, tale

  • all - all, ball, call, hall

  • ame - blame, came, game, same

  • an - an, ban, can, pan

  • ank - bank, drank, sank, tank

  • ap - cap, map, rap, tap

  • ash - bash, dash, rash, sash

  • at - bat, cat, fat, mat

  • ate - fate, gate, late, rate

  • aw - claw, draw, paw, saw

  • ay - day, hay, may, say

  • eat - beat, feat, meat, seat

  • ell - bell, fell, tell, well

  • est - best, rest, vest, west

  • ice - dice, mice, nice, rice

  • ick - brick, kick, pick, sick

  • ide - bride, hide, ride, side

  • ight - bright, fight, light, night

  • ill - bill, hill, pill, still

  • in - bin, chin, grin, tin

  • ine - dine, fine, mine, vine

  • ing - bring, king, sing, wing

  • ink - drink, link, pink, sink

  • ip - chip, dip, lip, sip

  • it - bit, fit, hit, sit

  • ock - block, clock, rock, sock

  • op - cop, hop, mop, top

  • ore - bore, more, sore, tore

  • ot - got, hot, not, rot

  • uck - buck, duck luck, tuck

  • ug - bug, hug, mug, rug

  • ump - bump, dump, jump, pump

  • unk - bunk, dunk, junk,sunk

Source: Richard E. Wylie and Donald D. Durrell, 1970. "Teaching Vowels Through Phonograms." Elementary English 47, 787-791.