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Pronunciation of the vowels in English

How to pronounce the vowels in English

Vowels in English phonetics

How many vowels are there in English?

 

For many languages vowel sounds are easy and rarely if ever change. Spanish and Japanese are typical of this, with short vowels that do not change, making both languages super easy to pronounce. In fact, ask a Spanish speaker to say a word in Japanese, and the pronunciation of that person will be spot on, because the vowel sounds are so similar. The same goes in reverse for a Japanese speaker trying to pronounce a Spanish word like ‘casa’. In Spanish that means that there are only five vowels or ‘a, e, i, o, u’ in total.

 

However, English pronunciation has many more vowels than either Japanese or Spanish, making it a lot more difficult to learn. English is not so easy. For starters, there are both long and short vowels, and even a couple of them in between, or long short vowels, making up a total of thirteen vowel sounds.

 

How are the vowels pronounced in English?

So, when learning new words in English, it really helps to use a sound system that you can easily remember, note down and put next to every English word or phrase you learn, so you always have a guide to its pronunciation. Here is a short ‘phoneme’ or, how it looks is how you say it, type of pronunciation shorthand. Many teachers will use the IPA or International Pronunciation Alphabet, although this uses many new symbols that you will have to study and memorise. It takes time to learn. Using phonemes however is quick and easy, and many of them may even be close to the same sound in your own language. For example / a / is the same as ‘a’ in ‘casa’.

See this example below. Here the sound ‘ih’ is the same as ‘i’. It is short and not long like ‘I’. The sound ‘ng’ is the same as ‘playing’ with ‘sh’ as in ‘shop’.

So you see ‘English’ is quite easy to pronounce. Noting the phonemes next to the spelling is a great way to remember pronunciation.

English

/ih ng l ih sh/

Let’s look at a few more short sounds. Below you can see a full list, with some common words as examples.

 

a – hat

e – egg

ih – fit

o – hot

uh – mug

 

In addition to the short vowels ‘a, e, ih, o, uh’, there are also three sounds that are a little longer. So instead of just ‘a’, another short long sound is more like two ‘a’s or double, as in ‘aa’. Now, these sounds are much less common than the regular short vowels that we have looked at. Their pronunciation is simple though, with simply stressing a little longer and prolonging the short sound ‘a’ for ‘aa’ and ‘e’ for ‘eh’. The sound ‘ou’ is different thought to ‘o’ or ‘uh’. It is a little like the two sounds combined.

See the pronunciation of these short but stressed, or short long vowels below.

 

aa – ago

eh – help

ou – book

 

In addition to what we have learned, English pronunciation also has long vowels. These are A, E, I, O, U (y uew). The first four: A, E, I, O are pronounced the same as the English alphabet. In fact, there are two versions of the alphabet, one with long pronunciation forms like the traditional A, B, C, D, E, that every child learns at school, and the other one, with short forms, as in ‘a, b, k, d’. Now here you can see that there is no short form for ‘C’, but only the sound ‘k’.  

 

Here below a list of long vowel pronunciation in English.

A – table

E – tree

I – ice

O – open

uew – school

 

Sound of the vowels in English in Video 

Watch these video with the pronunciation for the following:

a – hat

e – egg

ih – fit

o – hot

uh – mug

 

 

Watch these video with the pronunciation for the following:

aa – ago

eh – help

ou – book

 

 

Watch these video with the pronunciation for the following:

A – table

E – tree

I – ice

O – open

uew – school

 

 

Improve your verbs pronunciation with Wordiser

 

So, you have seen how easy it is to pronounce English vowels. However, remembering if a vowel is short, long or short long, is a lot more difficult and takes practice. Also, there is the problem of spelling. The word ‘me’ uses the long vowel /E/, but the so does ‘teach’ or ‘meet’. So ‘e’, ‘ea’ or ‘ee’ can be the sound /E/. This is what is confusing with English.

 

Wordiser to your rescue. With one of our vocabulary testers or a course, every word or phrase you learn, will include a test on vowel pronunciation, whether the sound is short, long or short long. This will help you learn how to pronounce English like the best of students, but also, very importantly, aid you in learning which spellings, like ‘e’, ‘ea’ or ‘ee’, and which sounds, like /E/ go together. This in fact, is how English speaking natives learn how to pronounce words they have never seen before. Only through this method can you truly master English pronunciation. Not to mention, good spelling too!  

 

Wordiser to your rescue. With one of our vocabulary testers or a course, every word or phrase you learn, will include a test on vowel pronunciation, whether the sound is short, long or short long. This will help you learn how to pronounce English like the best of students, but also, very importantly, aid you in learning which spellings, like ‘e’, ‘ea’ or ‘ee’, and which sounds, like /E/ go together.

This in fact, is how English speaking natives learn how to pronounce words they have never seen before. Only through this method can you truly master English pronunciation. Not to mention, good spelling too!

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