A Simple Guide to Word Families

Word Families
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.


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.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Cox, Janelle. "A Simple Guide to Word Families." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/simple-guide-to-word-families-2081410. Cox, Janelle. (2020, August 27). A Simple Guide to Word Families. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/simple-guide-to-word-families-2081410 Cox, Janelle. "A Simple Guide to Word Families." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/simple-guide-to-word-families-2081410 (accessed May 29, 2023).