Skip to main content
K12 LibreTexts

2.22: The Consonant Sound [l]

  • Page ID
    7071
  • Overview of the Consonant Sound [l]

    More than nine times out of ten [l] is spelled <l>.

    Examples

    You can hear the sound [l] at the beginning and end of the word lull.

    Review

    1. Underline the letters that spell [l] in each of the following words:
      \begin{align*}
          & \text{ability} && \text{symbol} && \text{fertilizer} && \text{lieutenant}\\
          & \text{wrinkle} && \text{bungle} && \text{regular} && \text{national}\\
          & \text{freely} && \text{cathedral} && \text{guilty} && \text{leisure}\\
          & \text{annihilate} && \text{delegate} && \text{horrible} && \text{angrily}\\
          & \text{awhile} && \text{elaborate} && \text{jungle} && \text{league}
      \end{align*}
    2. Now sort the twenty words into these three groups:
      Words with [l]. . .
      in the front in the middle at the end
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
    3. How is [l] spelled in all of these words? _______. 
    Show Answer
    1. \begin{align*} 
          &  abi\underline{l}ity  &&  symbo\underline{l}  &&  ferti\underline{l}izer  &&  \underline{l}ieutenant \\
          &  wrink\underline{l}e  &&  bung\underline{l}e  &&  regu\underline{l}ar  &&  nationa\underline{l} \\
          &  free\underline{l}y  &&  cathedra\underline{l}  &&  gui\underline{l}ty  &&  \underline{l}eisure \\
          &  annihi\underline{l}ate  &&  de\underline{l}egate  &&  horrib\underline{l}e  &&  angri\underline{l}y \\
          &  awhi\underline{l}e  &&  e\underline{l}aborate  &&  jung\underline{l}e  &&  \underline{l}eague 
      \end{align*}
    2. Words with [l]. . .
      in the front in the middle at the end
      lieutenant ability wrinkle
      leisure freely awhile
      league annihilate symbol
        delegate bungle
        elaborate cathedral
        fertilizer horrible
        regular jungle
        guilty national
        angrily  
    3. How is [l] spelled in all of these words? <l>

    Explore More

    Word Squares. This squares contains the following twelve words, each of which contains the sound [l] spelled <l>. We've shown you where the <l>'s go in the words: 

    \begin{align*}
        & \text{6 Letters:} && \text{7 Letters:} && \text{8 Letters:} && \text{10 Letters:}\\
        & \text{awhile} && \text{ability} && \text{horrible} && \text{annihilate}\\
        & \text{bungle} && \text{angrily} && \text{national} && \text{lieutenant}\\
        & \text{jungle} && \text{wrinkle} && \text{ } && \text{ }\\
        & \text{league} && \text{ } && \text{ } && \text{ }\\
        & \text{symbol} && \text{ } && \text{ } && \text{ }
    \end{align*}

    Show Answer

    [l] Spelled <l> or <ll>

    The sound [l] can be spelled <ll> for a few reasons, including simple addition and assimilation.

    Examples

    Sometimes when you add a suffix that starts with <l> to a stem that ends in <l>, you get <ll> because of simple addition: heel + less = heelless

    Sometimes when you add a prefix to a word that starts with <l>, the last letter of the prefix assimilates: com + lect collect.

    Review

    1. Underline the letters that spell [l] in the following words.
      \begin{align*}
          & \text{finally} && \text{collie} && \text{taillight} && \text{dollar}\\
          & \text{cathedral} && \text{collapse} && \text{allegiance} && \text{ability}\\
          & \text{respectfully} && \text{allies} && \text{annually} && \text{shallowness}\\
          & \text{jewellike} && \text{followers} && \text{college} && \text{illogically}\\
          & \text{ballads} && \text{illustration} && \text{lieutenant} && \text{colleague}
      \end{align*}
    2. Sort these twenty words into these two groups.
      Words in which [l] is spelled ...
      <l> <ll>
             
             
             
             
             
             
    3. Seven of the seventeen words with [l] spelled <ll> have the <ll> in them because of assimilation in the prefix. In three of them the <m> in com- has changed to an <l>. In two the <d> in ad- has changed to an <l>. In two the <n> in in- has changed to an <l>. Find these seven words and sort them into these three groups.
      Words with ...
      adassimilated to al- comassimilated to col- inassimilated to il-
           
           
           
    4. Five of the sixteen words that contain <ll> have two <l>s because in them a suffix that starts with an <l> has been added to a stem that ends with <l>. Find the five and sort them into these two groups.
      Words with the suffix...
      -like -ly
         
         
         
         
    5. Among the words with [l] spelled <ll> there is one compound word in which the <ll> is due to simple addition. That word is ______________.
    6. There are also five words with [l] spelled <ll> because of the VCC pattern at work. List them.
    Show Answer
    1. \begin{align*}
          &  fina\underline{ll}y  &&  co\underline{ll}ie  &&  tai\underline{ll}ight  &&  do\underline{ll}ar \\
          &  cathedra\underline{l}  &&  co\underline{ll}apse  &&  a\underline{ll}egiance  &&  abi\underline{l}ity \\
          &  respectfu\underline{ll}y  &&  a\underline{ll}ies  &&  annua\underline{ll}y  &&  sha\underline{ll}owness \\
          &  jewe\underline{ll}ike  &&  fo\underline{ll}owers  &&  co\underline{ll}ege  &&  i\underline{ll}ogically \\
          &  ba\underline{ll}ads  &&  i\underline{ll}ustration  &&  \underline{l}ieutenant  &&  co\underline{ll}eague 
      \end{align*}
    2. Words in which [l] is spelled ...
      <l> <ll>
      cathedral finally allies college
      lieutenant respectfully followers dollar
      ability jewellike illustration shallowness
        ballads taillight illogically
        collie allegiance colleague
        collapse annually  
    3. Words with ...
      adassimilated to al- comassimilated to col- inassimilated to il-
      allies collapse illustration
      allegiance college illogically
        colleague  
    4. Words with the suffix...
      -like -ly
      jewellike finally
        respectfully
        annually
        illogically
    5. Among the words with [l] spelled <ll> there is one compound word in which the <ll> is due to simple addition. That word is taillight.
    6. There are also five words with [l] spelled <ll> because of the VCC pattern at work.
      \begin{align*}
          &  ballads  &&  collie  &&  followers  &&  dollar && shallowness 
      \end{align*}

    Sounds of <a> before <ll>

    When the letters <ll> come at the end of a free stem, an <a> before them will spell [o].

    When the <ll> comes in the middle of a free stem, an <a> before them will spell [a].

    Examples

    Usually the <ll> spelling follows the VCC pattern. For instance, in balladsfellowsthrillingdollar, and bullet, there is a short vowel in front of the <ll>, and it is always the vowel sound that it looks as if it should be. In ballads there is a short <a>; in fellows there is a short <e>; in thrilling and dollar, a short <i> and short <o>; and in bullet a short <oo>, ů.

    Sometimes right in front of the <ll> you should hear the short <a> sound, [a], that the spelling suggests, but sometimes you should hear the short <o> sound, [o]. Remember: Short <a> is the vowel you hear in hat. Short <o> is the vowel you hear in hot.

    Review

    1. Read the following words aloud. Pay special attention to the vowel sound in front of the <ll> in each one. Mark the vowel sound in front of the <ll>, as we have done with stalled.
      \begin{align*}& \text{stalled} && \text{tallest} && \text{eyeballs} && \text{befallen} \\ & \quad [o] \\ & \text{stallions} && \text{tallied} && \text{balladist} && \text{fallacies} \\ \\ & \text{allies} && \text{allergies} && \text{recalling} && \text{hallowed} \\ \\ & \text{halls} && \text{overalls} && \text{callousness} && \text{valley} \\ \\ & \text{appalled} && \text{alligators} && \text{mailing} && \text{shallowness} \\ \\ & \text{challenge} && \text{balloting} && \text{galleries} && \text{smallest} \\ \\\end{align*}
    2. Each of the twenty-four words contains a free stem plus a suffix. Analyze each one.
      Word = Free Stem Suffix Word = Free Stem Suffix
      stalled = stall ed eyeballs = eyeball s
      stallions     balladist    
      allies     recalling    
      halls     callousness    
      appalled     malling    
      challenger     galleries    
      tallest     befallen    
      tallied     fallacies    
      allergies     hallowed    
      overalls     valleys    
      alligators     shallowness    
      balloting     smallest    
    3. Now look at the twenty-four free stems you just found in your analysis. Sort them into this matrix.
    Show Answer
    1. clipboard_ee69ad83b89febc21541da2ba47a074f2.png
    2. Word = Free Stem Suffix Word = Free Stem Suffix
      stalled = stall ed eyeballs = eyeball s
      stallions = stallion s balladist = ballad ist
      allies = all y+ i es recalling = recall ing
      halls = hall s callousness = callous ous
      appalled = appal + l ed malling = mall ing
        or appall ed      
      challenger = challeng e er galleries = galler y i + es
      tallest = tall est befallen = befall en
      tallied = tall y + i ed fallacies = fallac y+ i es
      allergies = allerg y+ i es hallowed = hallowed ed
      overalls = overall s valleys = valley s
      alligators = alligator s shallowness = shallow ness
      balloting = ballot ing smallest = small est
    3.   Free stems with the <all> at the end Free stems with the <all> not at the end
      Free stems with [a] before <ll>  

      stallion

      ally

      challenger

      tally

      allergy

      alligator

      ballot

      balladist

      callous

      gallery

      fallacy

      hallow

      valley

      shallow

      Free stems with [o] before <ll>

      stall

      hall

      appal(l)

      tall

      overall

      eyeball

      recall

      mall

      befall

      small

       

    Sounds of <o> before <ll>

    When <ll> is at the end of a free stem, an <a> right in front of it will spell a short <o> sound, as in ball, [bol]. But when the <ll> is in the middle of the stem, an <a> right in front of it will spell a short <a> sound, as in ballot, [bálət].

    That's a neat little pattern, but there are a couple of misfits worth noticing. The word wall fits the pattern because it has the short <o> sound, but longer words with <wa> in front of <ll> in them don't fit: swallow, wallow, wallet, wallop.

    There is a similar pattern for the spelling <oll>. Sometimes you hear a short <o>, but sometimes you hear a long <o>.

    Examples

    When spelling <oll>, sometimes you hear a short <o> and sometimes you hear a long <o>.

    For example, following has a short <o> and enrolled has a long <o>.

    Review

    1. Read the following words aloud, carefully. Mark the vowel sound in front of the <ll> as we have with troller.
      \begin{align*}& \text{troller} && \text{tolls} && \text{bollixed} && \text{colleges} \\ & \;\,[\bar{o}] \\ & \text{trolleys} && \text{enrolled} && \text{knolly} && \text{scrolled} \\ \\ & \text{polling} && \text{rollicking} && \text{collies} && \text{stroller} \\ \\ & \text{polliwogs} && \text{follies} && \text{dollars} && \text{colleagues'} \\ \\ & \text{following} && \text{jolliest} && \text{hollowed} && \text{collaring}\\ \\\end{align*}
    2. Each of the twenty words contains a free stem plus a suffix. Analyze each one.
      Word = Free Stem + Suffix Word = Free Stem + Suffix
        = +   = +
        = +   = +
        = +   = +
        = +   = +
        = +   = +
        = +   = +
        = +   = +
        = +   = +
        = +   = +
        = +   = +
    3. When the <ll> is at the end of a free stem, does the <o> right in front of it spell a long sound or a short sound? _________. When the <ll> is in the middle of a free stem, does the <o> right in front of it spell a long sound or a short sound? _________.
    Show Answer
    1. clipboard_e4465f5e97da06727b9e0f13d940743a9.png
    2. Word = Free Stem + Suffix Word = Free Stem + Suffix
      troller = troll er bollixed = bollix ed
      trolleys = trolley s knolly = knoll y
      polling = poll ing collies = collie s
      polliwogs = polliwog s dollars = dollar s
      following = follow ing hollowed = hollow ed
      tolls = toll s colleges = colleges s
      enrolled = enroll ed scrolled = scroll ed
      rollicking = rollick ing stroller = stroll er
      follies = foll y + i es colleagues' = colleague s'
      jolliest = joll y est collaring = collar ing
    3. When the <ll> is at the end of a free stem, does the <o> right in front of it spell a long sound or a short sound? long. When the <ll> is in the middle of a free stem, does the <o> right in front of it spell a long sound or a short sound? short.

    <ll> with Short <u> or <oo>

    There are two very similar short vowel sounds: the short <u>, [u], as in buck, and the short <oo>, [ů] as in book. Both of these sounds are usually spelled <u> and can occur before <ll>.

    Examples

    The word bull has the short <oo> or [ů] sound.

    The word lull has the short <u> or [u] sound.

    Review

    1. Say the following words carefully and mark the vowel sound spelled <u> as we have with bull.
      \begin{align*}& \text{bullfighter} && \text{fullest} && \text{bullet}\\ & \;\,[\dot{u}] \\ & \text{dullness} && \text{lullaby} && \text{sullen}\\ \\ & \text{seagull} && \text{skullcap} && \text{bully} \\ \\ & \text{pulley} && \text{nullify} && \text{gullible}\\ \\\end{align*}
    2. Sort the twelve words into these two groups. 
      Words in which <u> spells the sound...
      [u]     ů
           
           
           
           
           

      Since the sounds [u] and [ů] are so similar and are both short, they pose no spelling problem. It is just another little wrinkle in the way things are.
    3. Two spellings of [l] are used almost 100% of the time! They are _____ and _____.
    Show Answer
    1. clipboard_ee6fd33799ee5155e819f4c9f2c12f508.png
    2. Words in which <u> spells the sound...
      [u] ů
      dullness sullen bullfighter
      seagull gullible pulley
      lullaby   fullest
      skullcap   bullet
      nullify   bully
    3. Two spellings of [l] are used almost 100% of the time! They are <l> and <ll> . 

    Explore More

    Except for the three words isleisland, and aisle, [l] is spelled either <l> or <ll>.

    The <s> got into island by mistake: In Old English there was a word iegland, which meant “water land,” or “island.” Later the English adopted the French word isle, which also meant “island.” People then made the mistake of thinking that iegland, which was then usually spelled iland, must be a compound of isle and land. They put the <s> in and changed the word to island.

    English also kept the French word isle. The <s> in isle echoes the <s> in the original Latin word, insula, which meant “island.”

    That French isle also caused the <s> in aisle. About six hundred years ago in English the word aile meant “wing of a church building.” But people began to mix aile up with isle, perhaps thinking that since an aile (or wing) and an isle (or island) were both off by themselves, the two words must be related. So in went that <s> again, and aile became our word aisle.

    Word Scrambles. Follow the directions very carefully, and write the words you form in the right column. The shaded boxes will contain three words you've studied in this lesson.

    Write the word sail  
    Change the <a> to <e> and scramble the letters  
    Add <m> and scramble the letters  
    Change <m> to <a> and scramble the letters  
    Add <d> and scramble the letters  
    Change <e> to <n> and scramble the letters  
    Show Answer
    Write the word sail sail
    Change the <a> to <e> and scramble the letters isle
    Add <m> and scramble the letters slimemileslimessmile
    Change <m> to <a> and scramble the letters aisle
    Add <d> and scramble the letters sailedladies
    Change <e> to <n> and scramble the letters island