Answer to: What the heck is that e doing in the word have?

It was brought to my attention that I neglected to answer a question posed in a post several months ago as to why there is a letter <e> at the end of the word have – my apologies!  So – here is the answer… and it is simple – complete native English words do not end in the letter v.  It is a convention that has existed since English became standardized.  (The particular reasons are a bit more complicated than I want to go into on this post but people who are interested and want to dig deep into the history of the English Language should check out the resource Real Spelling) Can you think of any other letters that don’t end complete native English words!?

So – what to do when words end in the sound /v/?  Add final single, non-syllabic <e>.  Many people know that a final silent <e>, sometimes referred to as “magic e” or “bossy e”, marks the preceding single-letter grapheme (vowel) as “long” – like in the words make, ride, home, mule etc.  But the final silent <e> has many other “jobs”.  This is one of them.  I challenge you to think of other letters that do not end complete native English words!  Perhaps I will post about this in the future…

So – we do not need to teach our students that words like have or give are exceptions; they are clearly not.  They are following the convention.  Now what about the spelling of love, dove, above, etc.  Perhaps they are exceptions?  Nope – these words are also following conventions.  But that is definitely for another day!


About ogmsl

Fellow with the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE). I have a Masters Degree in Education from OISE/University of Toronto and am a certified Ontario teacher. Family connection with dyslexia. Past President of ONBIDA - Ontario Branch of International Dyslexia Association. In Private practice working with students of all ages and also teacher training.
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