Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Vowels

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
English

A vowel sound is like a nucleus, often found in the middle of a word.

What is a Vowel sound?

A vowel is a speech sound that is produced when the air flows out through the mouth without being stopped by the vocal organs. Vowels are produced when there is nothing to obstruct the vocal cords.

A syllable

A syllable is a part of a word containing one vowel sound, called the nucleus. It may or may not have consonant sounds before or after it. If the syllable has a consonant sound before it, this is called the 'onset'. If there is a consonant sound after it, this is called the 'coda'.

  • For example, the word pen / pen / has one syllable and it contains an onset / p /, a nucleus / e /, and a coda / n /.

A word can have more than one syllable:

  • For example, the word robot / ˈrəʊbɒt / has two syllables. A quick way to work out how many syllables a word has is to count the main vowels.

List of vowels and examples


Vowels, image of vowels, StudySmarterThere are five vowel letters in the English alphabet. - freepik.com

These are vowels as we know them in the alphabet, however there are many more vowel sounds than these. We'll look at them next.

List of vowel sounds in words

There are 12 vowel sounds in English.

  1. / ɪ / as in i f, s i t, and wr i st.

  2. / i: / as in b e , r ea d, and sh ee t.

  3. / ʊ / as in p u t, g oo d, and sh ou ld.

  4. / u: / as in y ou , f oo d, and thr ou gh.

  5. / e / as in p e n, s ai d, and wh e n.

  6. / ə / as in ab ou t, p o lite, and teach er .

  7. / 3: / as in h e r, g i rl, and w o rk.

  8. / ɔ: / as in a lso, f our , and w al k.

  9. / æ / as in a nt, h a m, and th a t.

  10. / ʌ / as in u p, d u ck, and s o me.

  11. / ɑ: / as in a sk, l a r ge, and st a rt.

  12. / ɒ / as in o f, n o t, and wh a t.

Vowels, image of vowels, StudySmarter

Vowels, freepik.com

What are vowel sounds made of?

Every vowel is pronounced according to three dimensions that distinguish them from each other:

Height

Height, or closeness, refers to the vertical position of the tongue in the mouth, if it's high, mid, or low . For example, / ɑ: / as in arm , / ə / as in ago , and / u: / as in too .

Backness

Backness refers to the horizontal position of the tongue, if it's in the front, center, or back of the mouth. For example, / ɪ / as in any , / 3: / as in fur , and / ɒ / as in got .

Rounding

Rounding refers to the position of the lips, if they are rounded or spread . For example, / ɔ: / as in saw , and / æ / as in hat .

Here are some other aspects that help to describe vowel sounds:

  • Tenseness and laxness : - tense vowels are pronounced with tension in certain muscles. They are long vowels: in British English, tense vowels are / i :, i, u, 3 :, ɔ :, a: /. - lax vowels are produced when there is no muscle tension. They are short vowels. In British English, lax vowels are / ɪ, ə, e, aə, ʊ, ɒ, and ʌ /.
  • The length of the vowel refers to the duration of a vowel sound. Vowels can be long or short.

Monophthongs and Diphthongs

There are two types of vowels in English: Monophthongs and Diphthongs .

  • Say the word company out loud. You may notice that there are three different vowel letters , “o, a, y” which correspond to three distinct vowel sounds: / ʌ /, / ə /, and / i /.

These vowels are called monophthongs because we don't pronounce them together but as three distinct sounds. A monophthong is a single vowel sound.

  • Now say the word tie out loud. What do you notice? There are two vowel letters , “i and e”, and two vowel sounds: / aɪ /.

Unlike monophthongs, here there are two vowels joined together. We say that the word 'tie' contains one diphthong . A diphthong is two vowels together .

Here's another example: alone .

  • Three letters: a, o, e.
  • Two vowel sounds: / ə, əʊ /.
  • One monophthong / ə / and one diphthong / əʊ /.

The first / ə / is separated from the other two vowel sounds by the consonant sound / l /. Yet, the two vowel sounds / ə, ʊ / are joined to make the diphthong / əʊ /.

In English, there are some words that contain triple vowels, called triphthongs , as in the word liar / ˈlaɪə /. A triphthong is a combination of three different vowels .

Vowels - Key takeaways

  • A vowel is a speech sound that is produced when the air flows out through the mouth without being stopped by the vocal organs.

  • A syllable is a single part of a word that contains one vowel sound, the nucleus, and two consonants, the onset and the coda.

  • Every vowel is pronounced according to: height, frontness, and rounding .

Vowels

A vowel is a speech sound that is produced when the air flows out through the mouth without being stopped by the vocal organs.

Vowels are speech sounds made when the mouth is open and the air can escape freely from the mouth. Consonants are speech sounds made when the airflow is blocked or restricted.

The letters a, e, i, o, u.

There are 5 vowels in the alphabet and they are a, e, i, o, u.

There are 12 vowel sounds and 8 diphthongs in the English language.

Final Vowels Quiz

Question

Which vowel sound is there in the word cat?

Show answer

Answer

/æ/.

Show question

Question

Which vowel sound is there in the word boat?


Show answer

Answer

/əʊ/.


Show question

Question

Which vowel sound is there in the word judge?


Show answer

Answer

/ʌ/.

Show question

Question

What is the role of y in the word rhythm?


Show answer

Answer

A vowel.

Show question

Question

How many vowels are there in the English alphabet?


Show answer

Answer

5.


Show question

Question

How many vowel sounds are there?


Show answer

Answer

20.


Show question

Question

What type of vowel sound is /u:/?


Show answer

Answer

Low.

Show question

Question

What type of vowel sound is /ɪ/?


Show answer

Answer

Front.

Show question

Question

What type of vowel sound is /ɔ:/?

Show answer

Answer

Rounded.

Show question

Question

What type of vowel sound is //?


Show answer

Answer

Diphthong.


Show question

Question

Vowel sounds are typically voiced. TRUE OR FALSE


Show answer

Answer

TRUE.

Show question

Question

Within a syllable, vowels represent the onset and the coda. TRUE OR FALSE.


Show answer

Answer

FALSE: Vowels represent the nucleus of the syllables.

Show question

Question

The vowel symbol in the word write is /aɪ/. TRUE OR FALSE.


Show answer

Answer

TRUE.

Show question

Question

The diphthongs are the union of two monophthongs. TRUE OR FALSE.


Show answer

Answer

TRUE.

Show question

Question

The syllables can only be close. TRUE OR FALSE.


Show answer

Answer

FALSE: The syllables can be close and open, depending on if there is a vowel or a consonant at the end of the word.

Show question

Question

What is a vowel?

Show answer

Answer

A vowel is a speech sound produced when the airflow is not obstructed by the articulators (vocal organs).

Show question

Question

What part of a syllable is the vowel?

Show answer

Answer

Nucleus

Show question

Question

What is a syllable?

Show answer

Answer

A unit of sound containing one vowel sound.

Show question

Question

How many syllables are in the word: dysfunctional?

Show answer

Answer

4

Show question

Question

Which vowel sound represents the underlined sounds in:

banana, function, about, planter, photograph

Show answer

Answer

/ ə /

Show question

More about Phonetics Phonology and Prosodics
60%

of the users don't pass the Vowels quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.