Up ] How Sounds Are Articulated ] Consonants of the IPA ] The Consonant Chart ] [ Vowels of the IPA ] The Vowel Chart ] The Qualities of /r/ and /l/ ] Allophones ]

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These are the front vowels. As you move down the chart, the vowels become lower in pitch and alternate from tense to lax qualities in the throat.

/i/

tense

 

lax

 

tense

 

lax

 

tense 

 

lax

see, sea, be

 

 

/I/

it, bit, pit, sit 

 

 

/e/

bait, day, pay, stay, rate 

 

 

/E/

egg, elephant, effort 

 

 

 /Q/

bat, man, tan, pan, apple

 

 

/a/

father, pot, not 

These are the back vowels. As you move up the chart, your lips will begin to round, as though you were giving a kiss.

/a/

 

bother, hot, mama 

 

 

 

//

 

awful, saw, waffle 

 

 

 

/o/

 

soap

 

 

 

/U/

 

 foot, soot 

 

 

 

 /u/

 

boot, root, boutique

These are the center vowels. There are three diphthongs (combinations of two vowels.) 

/aI/

 

bite, tight, my 

 

 

 

/au/

 

ouch, couch, pouch 

 

 

 

/I/

 

boy, toy, joy 

The vowel known as the schwa is probably the most misunderstood vowel sound in the English language. The schwa is the sound produced when someone punches you in the stomach.  Most people are not even aware that such a sound exists. The schwa  is a reduced vowel and passes unnoticed in speech.  

//  

 the, under, such, umbrella, sun