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In this lesson, you will learn inversion; another shortening principle that will allow you to write some less common letter orders in one stroke.

At the beginning of the text, I told you that steno order was firm and had to be so in order to be consistent. Then, I told you that you could "fold in" suffixes like -G in order to have a word like "patting" written with PAGT. Folding-in suffixes is similar to the practice of inversion, where we sometimes swap the order of two neighboring sounds in steno order.

One common use is for words ending in "r":

  • WAEUT: wait
    • WAEURT: waiter
  • SUPL: sum
    • SURPL: summer

Another is the prefix "dis-" which we write by swapping the sounds of S- and TK- in steno order:

  • STKUS: discuss
  • STKUGS: discussion
  • STKAOEUPB: design
  • STKRUPT: disrupt
  • STKRUPGS: disruption
  • STKPHRAEU: display

Here are some other assorted examples:

  • SPHAEUBG: mistake
  • STPHAEUPB: insane
  • SPWAOEUD: beside

Breaking Chorded Sounds

Now you've seen that in certain cases, steno order can be broken. Generally, it's only done with neighboring sounds and only once per stroke. However, if it's done multiple times in the stroke or across non-neighboring sounds, then the outline is considered a brief. Let's talk about the idea of "breaking" a chorded sound, which is something Plover Theory does not support.

As a general rule, you cannot use keys within the limits of a chorded sound's edges. This means that if you are using SR for V, you can't use any of the keys in between S and R for other sounds. That means that you can't mix V with any of the sounds given by any combination of TKPWH. This rule may seem obvious, but it's important to achnowledge the different ways we can have ambiguity while reading raw steno. For example:


This chord, STPR, can mean either "STPR" or "SFR". It can't, notably, mean "VF", or "FV", or anything with "V" at all because the V chord sound is "broken" by keys in between S and R. SR is a pretty exclusive chord for this reason—it takes up the whole left bank—but this rule applies to all chorded sounds.

Consider the much smaller chord -PL for -M. You might be tempted to write a word that ends in "mb" as -PBL, but it will not work, as you've broken the -PL chord. -PBL can only be read as "PBL" or "NL", not "MB" or "BM". On the other hand, you can use keys before or after -PL, such as -PLG for a sound like "ming", and -RPL for a sound like "rm". (As an aside, words ending in "mb" include "bomb" and "tomb", and both of those have silent b's.)

It's easy to tell when a chord is broken when you write out the raw steno. For example, on the layout, you might think you can combine TPH (N) and KWR (Y) because they don't share keys. However, the raw steno TKPWHR absolutely breaks both TPH and KWR and instead reads like GL or DBL.

Be sure that when you are designing your own dictionary entries, you avoid breaking chords in this manner.

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