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  • Writer's pictureTiffany Lam

Phonemes and Graphemes and Morphemes.. Oh My!

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

There are so many terms to know when teaching your child to become good readers. Where do you even begin? One of the foundational skills of reading and writing is understanding that letters symbolize sounds in the English language.

Phonemes are the smallest unit of sound. Graphemes are the written representation of phonemes. For example, the word cat has 3 graphemes (c - a - t) that correspond with 3 phonemes: /c/ /a/ /t/.

Students become good readers when they are able to look at graphemes, identify the phonemes associated with them, and blend the sounds together to form a word. This is called decoding. The opposite is called encoding, which is the skill used to spell. Students hear a word, break the word down into its sounds, and then write the corresponding graphemes.

As students make the switch from learning to read to reading to learn, which happens around the middle of third grade, teaching morphemes, the smallest unit of a word that contains meaning, become crucial for learning and comprehension.

Morphemes can be affixes, Greek bases, and Latin bases, and even regular English words. For example, the word dog has 1 morpheme, but the word nonreturnable has 4 morphemes: non-, re-, turn, -able.

Each week, I will be going over morphemes and phonemes (and their associated graphemes) on my Instagram @tlameducation. Check it out my page to learn more!

If you're wanting to know more phonics terminology, check out my free resource Phonics Guide for Parents: Terms and Rules You Should Know.

All the best,


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