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How many phonemes are there?
Research

How many phonemes are there?

There are 44* phonemes in the English language, that is, there are 44 different sounds that make up all English words.

Many phonemes have more than one grapheme, that is, they can be written using different spellings, for example, f, ff, and ph are all graphemes for the phoneme /f/.

The sound chart below shows the phonemes that children are taught in Reception (UK) or Kindergarten (US) and Year 1 (UK) and Grade 1 (US). It also shows the most common graphemes that correspond to each phoneme and gives word examples for each.

For example, the word cup has 3 phonemes: /k/, /u/, and /p/. Each is represented by a simple grapheme or letter: c, u, p.


*this number can vary slightly depending on the dialect and the classification followed.

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Deep Dive

Read our report on the Science of Reading. Research-based reading instruction must incorporate the 5 pillars of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. This report provides an easy to understand overview of each of these pillars and explains the important connection between how the brain learns to read (the Neuroscience of Reading) and how we teach children to read (The Science of Reading Instruction). It also explains why helping children build connections between letters and sounds, through phonics and phonemic awareness, is so crucial for the developing reading mind. This report is perfect for sharing with colleagues and friends!