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Vowels Sounds, Long, Short, Other, and Schwa - Series 2

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Long Vowels


Long vowel is the term used to refer to vowel sounds whose pronunciation is the same as its letter name.

The five vowels of the English spelling system (a, e, i, o, and u) each have a corresponding long vowel sound.

Some examples of these sounds can be heard in the words “Say”, “He”, “Liar”, “Show” and “Use”. Long vowels are generally the easiest vowels for non-native English speakers to distinguish and pronounce correctly because they are the same as their letter name.

In American English, the long a, long i, long o, and long u are two-sound vowels.

A two-sound vowel is a vowel sound that includes a y sound or a w sound in the pronunciation. Often, the y sound or w sound is only a minor part of the sound, but must be included for the sound to be pronounced fully.

Two Sound Vowel

long a ends in a brief y sound
long i ends in a brief y sound
long o ends in a brief w sound
long u begins in a brief y sound

Short Vowels


The term short vowel is used to refer to the sounds corresponding to the letters a, e, i, o, and u when there is no silent e at the end of a word (Vowel-Consonant - Silent [e], or CVe pattern) or when the vowel occurs individually between consonants (Consonant-Vowel-Consonant, or CVC pattern).

It is generally more difficult for non-native speakers to hear the differences between and produce short vowel sounds than long vowel sounds.

Examples of words with short vowel sounds are “Bat”, “Jest”, “Stick”, “Cop”, and “Sun”

Other Vowels


There are five vowel sounds in American English which do not fit into either long or short sounds. They are therefore given their own category known as “other vowel sounds” to differentiate them further.

These can also be somewhat difficult for non native speakers, as they are very close to short vowel sounds.

They are the “other u” (as in the word “put”), the “oo sound” (as in the word “spoon”), the “aw sound” (as in the word “dog”), the “oi sound” (as in the word coin), and the “ow sound” (as in the word “down”)

In tomorrow's Series 3, I will talk about the Letter W, the Letter Y, the Letter O, and diphthongs. In one of my previous post I talked about the Mysterious Schwa sound which is the most used sound in the English language.

Vowels Sounds, Long, Short, Other and Schwa, is excerpted from my book, American English - Ready Set Go. This 5 Part Series written in simple easy to understand English will give you a good foundation in understanding American English vowel sounds.
So, stay tuned to Mentor Josephan's, Vowels Sounds, Long, Short, Other, and Schwa.
Are you ready to speak English or not!™
mentor josephan
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  1. Do you find English Vowels to be a challenge?

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