American English Vowels
Vowels are the sounds we make with our mouths open.
Maybe you know that we have 6 letters that are vowels: A E I O U and sometimes Y.
When you say those letters, your mouth should be 100% open. Try it!
But, American English really has at least 12 vowel sounds. 😜
For example, you can hear 12 different vowels in these color words:
In dictionaries and English learning books, you will sometimes see special symbols to show the specific sounds. This can help you focus on the sound, and make sure other people can understand the way you pronounce the word.
These special symbols are called IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). For example, when we say the letter “A” in English, we write the IPA symbol / eɪ /.
For example, the IPA for the word “ate” in most American accents is / eɪt /.
Focusing on the sounds can help you pronounce things easily, quickly, and clearly. Learning about the IPA is a good way to check your pronunciation. Some people learn the whole English IPA, too, and it helps them understand and organize English sounds.
Also, every English speaker has an accent. The same word may have many different pronunciations as you meet different people from different places. We can use IPA to show or write the different pronunciations.
Here is the list of color words again, with the IPA of the vowel sounds. Can you repeat just the vowel sound?
- gray / eɪ /
- red /ɛ/
- black / æ /
- olive /ɑ/
- silver / ɪ /
- mustard /ə/
- rose /oʊ/
- blue /u/
- wood /ʊ/
- purple /ɚ/ or /ɜr/
- orange /ɔr/
- brown /aʊ/
Review: Vowels and Irregular Past Tense Verbs
Verbs are action words, like:
Many of the verbs we use the most in English are irregular past tense verbs. That means you have to memorize the past tense. You can’t say: doed, eated, or taked 😖. Instead, we say:
This list has many of the irregular past tense verbs we use the most, organized by the vowel sounds. Can you read and repeat the verbs? Can you also say the present tense form of the words?
You can listen and repeat, too.
- Red /ɛ/
- Gray / eɪ /
- Black / æ /
- Olive /ɑ/
- Silver / ɪ /
- Mustard /ə/
- Rose [oʊ]
- Woke up
- Blue /u/
- Wood /ʊ/
- Purple /ɚ/ or /ɜr/
- Orange /ɔr/
- Brown /aʊ/