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English has no rules for spelling or pronunciation, but there are some strong tendencies that may help us guess what is the most probable pronunciation of a word. I will tell you here the most important ones, but don't forget that you will find many exceptions to these rules, so don't try to memorize this list.

SYMBOL Usual Spelling EXAMPLES less common EXAMPLES
ee / ea seat, bean, cheek, sheep, teen e (stressed) be, these, complete
i sit, bin, chick, lip, tin e (unstressed) English, pretty, before
e set, neck, ten, fell, men ea bread, health, ready
a sat, ban, lack, pan, hat - -
u cut, bun, luck, much, cup o son, brother, love, month
ar cart, barn, cast, march, part a father, dance, bath
o cot, lock, posh, fox, cod - -
or / au / aw caught, port, forks, cord, born - -
oo book, took, good, look, foot u pull, put, butcher
oo fool, shook, soon, boom, mood u Luke, brute, flute
stressed: er / ir / ur bird, turn, perch, shirt, learn wor work, word, worse
any vowel or vowel combination Barbara, Photograph, a house, the sun, station - -
a, ai/ay station, face, Katy, day, May, stay, rain, paid - -
i/y fine, my, mine, pile, shine, pilot, five - -
oi/oy boy, boil, joy, toy, voice - -
ou/ow house, out, ground, how, town, allow - -
o phone, so, ago, home, alone, cold, both, post ou/ow soul, though, low, snow
eer, ear beer, cheer, steer, near, ear, dear, fear - -
ear chair, stair, fair, hair, fairy - -
our/owr hour, our, sour, flower, power - -
ire fire, admire, hire, tired i+vowel liar, science, giant

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