Are digraphs the same as blends?

Blends are combinations of two or three consonant sounds in which the original sounds are clearly heard.  For example, in the word “friend,” the “f” and the “r” are pronounced the usual way and sound as they normally do.  Blends are also called consonant clusters.

child musing about confusion over so many letters

Digraphs are combinations of two or three consonant sounds too, but the original letter sounds change.  For example, in the word “thin,” the “t” and the “h” are not pronounced in the usual way.  When together in a word, they are pronounced in a new way, to create a new sound.

Digraphs can also be combinations of two or three vowel sounds which create a new sound.  For example, when “o” and “i” are together, as in the word “void,” the vowel sound created is neither an “o” sound nor an “i” sound.  Vowel digraphs include ai, au, aw, ay, ea, ee, ei, eu, ew, ey, ie, oi, oo, ou, ow, and oy.  Vowel digraphs are rarely called by that term; instead they are called diphthongs if they are called anything at all.

In the US, almost always a digraph refers to a consonant digraph.

When I was in school, my teachers didn’t use the word “digraph.”  Instead, they called all consonant letter combinations ”blends.”  And they didn’t use the word ”diphthongs” either.  But today American children are expected to know those words, and more importantly, how to pronounce digraphs and diphthongs.

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