Dear Realspellers!

I have just read a book on English orthography where the author states - just like all the other textbooks - that the productive past tense morpheme is <-d / -ed> just like the verbal and plural ending <-s /-es>. While the latter is true, we all know that the former is not true. As Melvyn has so emphatically stated: the productive past tense morpheme is ALWAYS <ed>. 

I have been working on these words with kids and I am wondering why we have <play + ed = played, pray + ed = prayed> but <say - said; pay - paid; lay - laid>; these seem to indicate the word sums as: [say + d = sayd; pay + d = payd; lay + d = layd]. Now the <ay> becoming medial swithes to the correct medial grapheme <ai>. On the surface this seems to be the case but, as we are learning, there has to be an explanation to this orthographic 'violation' considering the fact that a vowel + <ysuch as [ay, oy, ey] is an unalterable combination   There is the same grapheme switch going on with <day> and <daily>: given that the a consonant suffix <ly> is being added to the base <day>, one would simplay have expected <dayly> instead of the <daily> we have.

Has any of you done anything with these words, who can shed some light on these for me?

Thanks everyone.

Felicia

Comments (2)

  1. Peter Bowers

Hey Felicia and Tom,

This is an old classic. Sorry I didn't notice your question for so long Felicia!

I started to post a response, but realized that this is such a key question so many have, I have responded by creating a new post that will be searchable with the word <said> at THIS LINK.

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  Comment was last edited about 10 months ago by Peter Bowers Peter Bowers
  1. Tom Berend

I've been looking at this as well. Let me try:

A number of words LOOK like they might use the Y-to-I conversion rule like say/said, pay/paid, lay/lain, slay/slain but they are simply present- and past-tense words, like have/had or go/gone.

There are a small number of words that seem to use Y-to-I in spite of the vowel+Y rule, so maybe that rule isn't fully defined. Felicia pointed out day/daily. I would add gay/gaily (and gaiety), and maybe fay/fairy.

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