Logic of English does not have a spelling rule to help determine if a word should be spelled with au or aw.
The phonogram au, two letter /ä/, may not be used at the end of English words because English words do not end in I, U, V, or J.
The phonogram au is used to spell the sound /ä/ in words like auto, haul, and August.
The phonogram aw, two letter /ä/, may be used at the end of English words. Notice this does not specify that this spelling is only at the end of words. In fact, this spelling can be found at the beginning or in the middle of words in some common words.
The Phonogram aw is used to spell the sound /ä/ in words like saw, yawn, and awful.
Tips for Spelling Words with AU or AW
Though there is not a spelling rule to know when to use au or aw, there are some ways to analyze words with these spellings that may be helpful:
- Provide the phonogram cue as students write the word whenever teaching how to spell a word with a sound that can be spelled in more than one way.
- Discuss patterns within words such as the phonogram aw being commonly used at the end of words.
- Identify words like awful, crawl, and hawk and discuss how they are not violating any spelling rules because the phonogram appears in the beginning or middle of the word.
- Record spellings in a spelling journal.
- Investigate the etymology and morphology of the word for clues to explain the word's spelling. For example, the word awful has something in common with the word awesome through the word awe.