Magic E: Silent but Useful

The Magic E in English spelling.
English spelling rule: The Magic E.

Better English: The Magic E

We’re continuing our Better English blog with the Magic E. Also known as a silent E. This important and popular vowel can change the sound of other vowels, thus lengthening the sound of a word.

Rule of Thumb

If a word ends with a vowel and then a consonant, adding the letter E at then end can change the sound of the previous vowel. The Magic E changes the sound and meaning of a word, yet remains silent. For instance: by changing the sound from short: tap, to a long vowel sound: tape.

We’ve got some examples of words ending with E.

WORD ENDING WITH E
On One
Hat Hate
Bit Bite
Cub Cube
Breath Breathe
Tap Tape
Cod Code
Slim Slime
Win Wine
Sit Site
Quit Quite

Academics refer to the silent E as a marker, which means it doesn’t represent a sound but tells us the sounds of the other letters in the word. A marker makes the nearest vowel to it say its name — its alphabet name — A E I O U.

But there are always exceptions to every rule, especially in the English language.

More examples

  • love
  • glove
  • above
  • have
  • come
  • some
  • none
  • oven
  • cover
  • to live

It would seems like the academics who added the Magic E to lengthen the sound forgot about the old words above.

If you think we’ve left any words out of our lists, or just want to show us how much you know, then let us know in the comments below.

The STAR Team

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