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The 5 English Vowels

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Hi there!

During this lesson we're going to learn how to pronounce the 5 English vowels.

In any language, the vowels are the letters which have the main effect on our pronunciation and accent.
As we all have different accents, the sound of vowels varies from one person to another.

The 5 vowels in English are A, E, I, O, and U, but when they're pronounced, singularly, in their pure form, without the influence of any other letters, they sound like this:

A, E, I, O, U
Once again:
A, E, I, O, U

The difference between the letter A and the letter U is that when you pronounce the letter: a as the: A sound, your whole mouth opens upwards and downwards together: A, but when you pronounce the letter: u as the: U sound, only your jaw drops downwards: U.

Here are some examples with each of the 5 vowels.
Try repeating each word after me:

A as in apple, ant, and, add, bat, cat, fat, hat, rat, sat.
E as in elephant, egg, elbow, elf, end, ever, get, met, pet, bet. I as in ink, if, idiot, ignite, ill, hill, hit, sit, fit, bit.
O as in object, organ, off, on, optician, not, hot, got, cod, rod. U as in umbrella, under, ugly, ulcer, ultra, but, cut, gut, hut, nut.

With the addition of other consonants or vowels, the sound of vowels can change. When a vowel is followed by a consonant and then the lettter: e, it often becomes a rounder and longer sound which is less flat sounding than the vowel in it's pure form. In the case in which words have a double consonant, then the effect of the letter: e on the previous vowel is cancelled.

Here are some examples to show how the pronunciation can change when you add the letter: e or a double consonant:

Mat Mate Matter
Bit Bite Bitter
Pot Potent Potter
Cut Cute Cutter

Please note that whenever a word contains a double consonant, you need to pronounce the sound of the two consonants as if they were single.

In the Italian language double consonants are pronounced, but in English, only one of the two consonants is pronounced.

Double consonants only cancel the effect which the letter: e would have had on the previous vowel.

Let's look at all of those words again.

The word: mat has a flat sounding vowel: mat.

When you add the letter: e onto mat, then the letter: e makes the: a in mat become the rounder a as in mate.
In the case in which a word has a double consonant, then the effect of the letter: e on the previous vowel is cancelled, and that vowel goes back to its original flat sound, as in: matter.

So that's "mat", "mate", and "matter".

The word: bit also has a flat sounding vowel: bit.

Once again, when you add the letter: e onto bit, then the letter: e makes the i in bit become the rounder i, as in bite. When you add a double consonant, then the effect of the letter: e on the previous vowel is cancelled, and that vowel goes back to its original flat sound, as in bitter. So that's bit, bite, and bitter.

Next, the word: pot also has a flat sounding vowel: pot. When you add the letter: e onto pot, then the letter: e makes the o in pot become the rounder o, as in potent. Remember that when you add a double consonant, then the effect of the letter: e on the previous vowel is cancelled, and that vowel goes back to its original flat sound, as in potter. So that's pot, potent, and potter.

Then, the word: cut also has a flat sounding vowel: cut
Once again when you add the letter: e onto cut, then the letter: e makes the u in cut become the rounder u, as in cute. Once again when you add a double consonant, then the effect of the letter: e on the previous vowel is cancelled, and that vowel goes back to its original flat sound, as in cutter. So that's cut, cute, and cutter.

The letter: e also changes the sound of some monosyllabic words with TH from th with air, to the voiced th sound. Here are some examples:

When you add the letter: e onto the word cloths it then becomes clothes. Cloths, Clothes, and when you add the letter: e onto the word bath it then becomes bathe. Bath, Bathe.

If words with: TH are followed by the letter: e which is preceded by the letter: i, then in this case the TH sound remains the th sound with air and not the voiced th sound. For example: "froth", "frothier", and "frothiest".

Now, let's go back to talking about the letter: a. There are three different ways of pronouncing the letter: a - ah, ay, and aw. Here are some examples of words with all three of those sounds. Try repeating each one after me:

Pat, cat, matter
Late, hate, fate
Ball, hall, law

Then there are double vowels, and they create a new sound, as opposed to the sound of each single vowel.
Here are some examples. Once again try repeating each one after me:

Sheet
Sheep
Sleep
Beach
Book
Shampoo
Zoo

So, now that you know how to pronounce all of the vowels, try to find some new friends on GoSpeakEnglish and then practise speaking with them via Skype!

And that's the end of this lesson!

Now you can see if you've understood the video, and do the test on GoSpeakEnglish. You can also watch many other English video lessons on GoSpeakEnglish.

Thanks, and I hope to see you again soon!
 

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