6 Long E Vowel Patterns


For this phonics lesson, we will be looking at the Long E and the 6 patterns that your child can learn to help them identify it. If you missed the Long A phonics lesson, I would suggest that you start there. Long E has many patterns with many exceptions. Learning the Long E may take your child a while, this is normal. I suggest that you start with the “Magic E,” “ee,” and “ea patterns as they are the most common and the easiest to learn. As your child progresses, you can start to introduce the exceptions and less common patterns listed below. 

When you are all done with Long E, keep on learning with our lesson on Long I.

If you need any more phonics help, check out our Vowels and Consonants Information Page for lessons, flashcards, and articles.


How to Pronounce the Long E

Like the “A” long vowel, the Long E, is also easy to pronounce. To make the Long E sound, just say its name (like the “ee” in “see”). Most children do not have problems making this sound.  Most of the work your child will need to do is in learning to identify the patterns of this long vowel. Learning the patterns that determine whether an “e” is a short /e/ or a Long E will take time and patience. Try to practice reading with your children whenever you can so that they can become familiar with these patterns as quickly as possible.

The IPA symbol for the Long E is /I/.

1. Long E Pattern: “Magic E Words” (e_e)

The easiest pattern to teach your child is words with Magic E. “Magic E” jumps over a letter and makes your short /e/ into a Long E. The “Magic E” pattern is very consistent, and it is shared among all the long vowels. It should be the first long vowel pattern you teach your child. 

Important Words with “Magic E Words” (e_e)

  1. Here
  2. These
  3. Delete
  4. Chinese
  5. Theme
  6. Peter

Exceptions to “e_e”

  1. There (made with a short /e/ sound)
  2. Eye (pronounced like the letter “I”)

2. Long E Pattern: ee

A very reliable pattern to learn for the Long E. As well, it is very easy to teach to your child as it only involves e’s, no extra vowels to confuse them. When you see a word with  “ee” it will make a Long E sound and nothing else. 

Important Words with “ee”

  1. Deer
  2. Knee
  3. Feet
  4. Peek
  5. Teenager
  6. Sweet
  7. Sleep
  8. Beef
  9. See

Exceptions to “ee”

There are no exceptions, what a relief!

3. Long E Pattern: ea

The “ea” pattern for Long E vowels is usually accurate, but it does have some important and commonly used exceptions. Besides the exceptions listed below, the letters “ea” will usually combine to make a Long E sound. Just remember to keep in mind those -eau, -ealth, -ear, and -ead exceptions to the rule. 

Important Words with “ea”

  1. Ear
  2. Hear
  3. Heat
  4. Sea
  5. Tea

Exceptions to “ea”

  1. -eau words (beautiful (Long U sound), bureau (Long O sound))
  2. Some -ead words (bread, head, spread)
  3. -ealth words (wealth, stealth, and health)
  4. Some -ear words (bear, pear, wear, swear)
  5. Great (pronounced with a Long A)

4. Long E Pattern: -y

When a word ends in a letter “y” and the “y” is preceded by a consonant (like “baby,” but not like “say”), then that “y” is going to make one of two vowel sounds. If it is a single syllable word, it will make a Long I (like “fly”), and if it has more than one syllable it will make a Long E sound (like “ready”). This might take a while to remember, but at least it is a rule, and not just memorizing which words take which vowel sound. Ending a word with a “-y” is very common, so learning which vowel sound that “y” makes will be an important step in your child’s reading journey.

Important Words with “-y”

  1. Happy
  2. Angry
  3. Baby
  4. Sleepy
  5. Ugly
  6. Tiny
  7. City
  8. Very
  9. Heavy
  10. Body

Important Exceptions to “-y”

  1. “-ly” Some longer “-ly” words do not make a Long E, but instead make a Long I. These words include July, multiply, rely, apply, and others.  

Other than those mentioned above, the rule is pretty consistent. Remember that the y’s that make a Long E sound are at the end of the word (in singular form) and are preceded by a consonant. As well, they must be more than one syllable long, or else they make a Long I sound.   

5. Long E Pattern: -ey

This pattern has been discussed before in the Long A section, but it is also used to make Long E sounds. Besides the word “key,” most Long E words that use “ey” are more than one syllable.  As “ey” is shared by Long A and Long E, this pattern may confuse your child. Try to familiarize your child with the important words that use “ey,” and look up any words that you are uncertain about using an IPA translator.

Important Words with “-ey”

  1. Honey
  2. Alley
  3. Abbey
  4. Key
  5. Money

Important Exceptions to “-ey”

This pattern is often used with Long A words, so it is important to learn which words use “ey” as a Long E and which ones use it as a Long A. 

6. Long E Pattern: (Open Syllable)e”

Just as with Long A, Long E also has words that treat the letter “e” as a long vowel, and not as a short vowel. This is due to these e’s being at the end of a syllable. When this happens, it is called an open syllable. These words are quite common, and they include some of the most used words in the English language. Learning these Long e words is very important.

Important Words with (Open Syllable) “e”

  1. He
  2. She
  3. We
  4. Me
  5. Even
  6. Maybe
  7. Evening
  8. Zebra 

Important Exceptions to (Open Syllable) “e”

Most times when you see a single “e,” it will make the short /e/. Learning these important exceptions that occur in an open syllable will help your child master spelling and reading even quicker.  

1. Further Exceptions: ei

As discussed in learning Long A, “ei” does not follow rules very well. Mostly “ei” is a Long A word, but there are long E words that use “ei.” We will list the important ones below for you and your child to be familiar with.

Important Words with “ei” (Long E sound)

  1. Weird
  2. Receive
  3. Receipt
  4. Ceiling
  5. Leisure (in some accents this is pronounced as a short /e/)

2. Further Exceptions: ie

Few words are taught to children that use “ie.” Unfortunately, those that do can take on different sounds. One of those sounds is the Long E sound. We have listed the important words your child may encounter that use “ie” as a Long E in the list below. We will be seeing “ie” again in our next post about the Long I where it is also used in a few important words. 

Important Words with “ie” (Long E sound)

  1. Field
  2. Belief
  3. Chief
  4. Thief
  5. Shield
  6. Achieve

How do I Practice Long Vowel Patterns?

Once you have gone over the patterns that use Long E, it is best to practice identifying Long E vowels by reading with your child. You can do this by reading to your child and having them try to sound out individual words, or let them read to you. It all depends on what they like, and what level of English they have. For long vowel identification, reading is the best way for children to learn the patterns and to start to become familiar with common exceptions to the rules.

While reading with your child, please make sure that you discourage them from guessing words. Also, do not try to push them to read beyond their level. By taking it slow in the beginning and properly teaching them how to read using long vowel patterns and synthetic phonics, your child will improve in the long run.

More Questions

If you have questions that you would like answered, feel free to leave us a post in the comment section, or book some time with us to talk one-on-one about your concerns.

All done with Long E? Why not check out our lesson on Long I?

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