D is for Drumlin

Glacial landscape feature
A drumlin is a north-south ridge of gravel, the shape of a beached whale.

D is for digraph


You can guess at the meaning of digraph because di— means “two” and —graph means “something written.” A digraph is two letters that have one sound. In older forms of English, the two letters might be run together, such as ae (æ). In vowel digraphs, the second letter is usually silent. English dialects introduce some variation in pronunciation.


Note: Digraphs are letters.


ch         chew

ck        check

dg        judge

ng         doing

sh         shout

th         that, think

ph        pheasant

wh        what, when, where, who


ae         archaeology [formerly, archæology]

ai          maid, maintain

au         audit

ay         day, tray

ea         bean, eat, teach

ee         fleece, sweet

ei          eight, receive

ey         key

ie          die

oa        boat, coast

oe        potatoes

oo        book, look

ow       slow

ue         true

D is for diphthong


Diphthong also begins with di— for “two”, but the second part of the word is derived from a difficult Greek word, phthong, meaning “sound” but also related to “tongue”.


A diphthong is (1) two vowels that act together to create a sliding sound within a syllable (the letters Y and W often act as vowels in this instance). It is also (2) two sounds that slide within one vowel (not a digraph). English dialects introduce some variation in pronunciation.


Note: Diphthongs are sounds.


a          rate, table

ai          fail, rain

au         daughter, haul

aw        draw, hawk

ea         create, eagle, great

ei          height

ew        dew, jewel, new

ey         convey, obey

i           arrive, high, private, sign

ia          dial, trial

ie          science

io         pioneer, riot, violet

o          ago, no, roll

oe        poet

oi         coil, noise, stoic

oo        cool, fool, moon

ou        out, mouse, soul

ow       down, how, know, throwing

oy        boy, oyster, voyage

ua         casual


ue         statue

uy         buyer, Gruyère, guy

y          by, hype, sky

yi          flying, trying


  1. Try to pronounce the word diphthong. Do you prefer to say “dip-thong” or “diff-thong”?
  2. Sound out words to identify digraphs and diphthongs. Which ones are the most commonly used?

D is for Dog

Canis lupus familiaris
A dog walker in a city park.

Consonant — consonant combinations

db        tidbit                                         bd        abduct

dc        handcuffs                                  cd

dd        caddy                                       dd        wedded

df         goldfish                                   fd         chiefdom

dg        edge                                         gd        kingdom

dh        jodhpurs                                   hd        withdraw

dj         adjust                                       jd        

dk        vodka                                       kd        workday

dl         headline                                   ld         bold

dm       windmill                                  md       gumdrop

dn        midnight                                  nd        send

dp        sandpiper                                 pd        update

dq        bed quilt                                   qd

dr         drive                                         rd         murder

ds         friends                                      sd         wisdom

dt         hardtop                                    td         hotdog

dv        advent                                      vd       

dw       midwife                                    wd       powder

dy        dynamic                                    yd        hydrate

dz         adze                                         zd         samizdat 

Consonant — vowel combinations

da        dab                                          ad        admire

de        debit                                        ed        dotted

di         did                                           id         rid

do        doughnut (or donut)                od        odd

du        dub                                          ud        puddle

dy        dynasty                                    yd        hydro rate 


  1. Look at the list of consonant—consonant combinations and think of more words for each set of two letters.
  2. Which letter combinations exist only in a compound or two-part word?
  3. Add a vowel between two consonants to make some new words.
  4. Look at the consonant—vowel combinations and think of more words for each. Which combinations are rare and which, common?
  5. Write the words in the air, first with your right hand and then your left hand. Try writing the words so they look right to someone facing you. Have fun!



D is for Daisy

Did you ever pluck the petals from a daisy, one by one, “He loves me; he loves me not?”

D is for digraphs, doubles and disappearing

Letter combinations (digraphs)

dg─, usually placed before an e, i, or y, sounds like j.

badge, dodgy, judge, wedge, widget

dh─ is pronounced with a silent h.

dhow, dhoti

Double Ds

English words with double consonants are inconsistent, so there is no reliable rule.

Usually, a double-d serves to signal that the preceding vowel is short rather than long.

buddy, hidden, ladder, wedding

bade, fade, hide, laden, wide


Sometimes a single d acts as a double-d.

body, credit, educate, study

Three-letter words ending in d usually have a short vowel.

bad, fad, hid, lad, wed

Silent or disappearing Ds

The letter D may or may not be silent or slurred in some words, depending on the dialect of the speaker.

handkerchief, grandson

sandwich, Wednesday, handsome


How many words can you think of with double d‘s? Say them out loud.

Now, find similar words with only one d. Does the vowel sound different?

Where do the words, dhow and dhoti, come from?