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    For example in magnanimous a, e, i, o or u would all give the same sound but how do you know to use I? Is there a rule of thumb or is it just rope learning spellings.

    Thanks in advance
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    Well, in English words, spelling usually comes from etymology or, in compound words, from the English words that make it up. In the case of 'magnanimous', it comes from the Latin magnus animus. For most people, this isn't a useful way to learn spelling, but unfortunately English spelling doesn't have a lot of consistent rules (because it's the ******* child of Saxon, Latin and French, with words stolen from many other languages). Basically, they just need learning. In words that end in -mous (which are usually of Greek origin, so well done on choosing an exception) the ending could be preceded by any vowel, including Y (anonymous), though U and I are unusual, and usually in Latin words (like posthumous), whilst Greek words mostly use A, O or Y (dichotomous, polygamous).

    The problem you're having here comes from the fact that English is not a phonetic language, and many unstressed English vowels make a sound known as the schwa (represented /ə/ in IPA) which isn't represented by any one letter. The I and the OU in 'magnanimous' generally both make this sound. The one tip I can offer you is to look for related words where the vowel sound in question is stressed or more clearly sounded. In the case of 'magnanimous', 'magnanimity' gives a clear I sound - /ɪ/ - whilst 'anonymous' has 'anonymity', 'dichotomy' has 'dichotomic' and so on. It's not foolproof, and requires you to 'know words' and 'have the best words' (Trump, D., 2015), but it may help from time to time.
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    (Original post by SosbanFach)
    Well, in English words, spelling usually comes from etymology or, in compound words, from the English words that make it up. In the case of 'magnanimous', it comes from the Latin magnus animus. For most people, this isn't a useful way to learn spelling, but unfortunately English spelling doesn't have a lot of consistent rules (because it's the ******* child of Saxon, Latin and French, with words stolen from many other languages). Basically, they just need learning. In words that end in -mous (which are usually of Greek origin, so well done on choosing an exception) the ending could be preceded by any vowel, including Y (anonymous), though U and I are unusual, and usually in Latin words (like posthumous), whilst Greek words mostly use A, O or Y (dichotomous, polygamous).

    The problem you're having here comes from the fact that English is not a phonetic language, and many unstressed English vowels make a sound known as the schwa (represented /ə/ in IPA) which isn't represented by any one letter. The I and the OU in 'magnanimous' generally both make this sound. The one tip I can offer you is to look for related words where the vowel sound in question is stressed or more clearly sounded. In the case of 'magnanimous', 'magnanimity' gives a clear I sound - /ɪ/ - whilst 'anonymous' has 'anonymity', 'dichotomy' has 'dichotomic' and so on. It's not foolproof, and requires you to 'know words' and 'have the best words' (Trump, D., 2015), but it may help from time to time.
    Thank you very much, makes more sense especially with the last part.
 
 
 
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