Follow US:

Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Interactive (not anymore, see the pinned comment) Vowel Sounds Chart: American English Pronunciation

(0)
Difficulty: 0

Hello there!

This is the "Sounds American" channel.

There are 12 distinct vowel sounds in American English.

If you want to speak like an American,

youll need to learn to pronounce them correctly.

And that could be a challenge.

There's good news, though!

Theres an easy way to remember how all these vowels are pronounced.

Each vowel sound is made with your tongue moving to a certain place in your mouth.

Once you know the position of your tongue for each vowel,

you can more easily organize and understand how to make them.

Take a look.

The vowels in the upper row

are pronounced with your tongue raised very high in your mouth.

The vowels in the lower row

are pronounced with your tongue placed very low.

Ok.

as you may have already guessed,

the vowels in the most right column are made with your tongue pulled back.

And finally

the vowel sounds in the most left column are pronounced with your tongue pushed forward.

For example:

The vowel sound /i/,

as in the wordbe,”

is pronounced with your tongue pushed forward

and raised very high in your mouth.

So its card is in the upper left corner.

Heres another vowel,

the vowel sound /ɔ/,

as in the wordon.”

This sound is pronounced with the tongue pulled back

and placed very low in your mouth.

So its card is in the lower right corner.

OK

if youre watching this video on a computer,

click on a card to find out more about each vowel.

Unfortunately, this doesnt work on mobile devices.

But we have a work-around.

You can use the Navigation links in the Description below.

Have fun!

This is the American vowel sound /i/,

as in the wordbe.”

You can also hear this sound in words like

each,”

see,”

key

orski.”

Now listen to this sound in a crazy phrase:

Lets find out how to make the /i/ sound.

OK.

To make the /i/ sound, you should focus on the correct position of your lips, tongue, and jaw.

Open your mouth a little,

stretch your lips as wide as you can,

and make them tense.

Raise your tongue very high and push it to the front of your mouth.

The tip of your tongue should be lowered just behind your bottom front teeth.

Remember,

the /i/ is a tense sound,

so your lips and tongue should be tense.

Your tongue should be at the front of your mouth.

Let's try saying it:

/i/

/i/

/i/

This is the American vowel sound /ɪ/,

as in the wordit.”

You can also hear this sound in words like

big,”

gym,”

English,”

orimage.”

Can you handle a sentence?

Lets find out how to make the /ɪ/ sound.

OK

To pronounce the /ɪ/ sound,

you should focus on the correct position of your tongue.

Slightly open your mouth,

spread your lips and relax them.

Raise your tongue high in your mouth

and push it to the front.

The tip of your tongue can be lowered just behind your bottom front teeth.

Remember,

the /ɪ/ is a relaxed sound,

so your tongue and lips should be relaxed.

And your tongue should be at the front of your mouth.

Now, let's try saying it:

/ɪ/

/ɪ/

/ɪ/

This is the American vowel sound /eɪ/,

as in the word "make."

You can also hear this sound in words like

take,”

day,”

wait

oreight.”

What if we put together a few words with this sound in a phrase?

Here you go:

Keep watching to find out how to make the /eɪ/ sound correctly.

OK

To pronounce the /eɪ/ vowel,

you should focus on the correct position of your lips and tongue.

Partially open your mouth,

spread your lips wide and make them tense.

Raise the middle of your tongue to the roof of your mouth and push it to the front.

The tip of your tongue should be down,

just behind your bottom front teeth.

Remember,

the /eɪ/ is a tense sound,

so your lips and tongue should be very tense.

Your jaw should be partially lowered.

Now, let's pronounce this sound:

/eɪ/

/eɪ/

/eɪ/

This is the American vowel sound /ɛ/,

as in the word "bed."

Your can also hear this sound

in words like

get,

head,

many,

or "friend."

Now let's move from words to a sentence.

If youre not sure how to make the /ɛ/ vowel sound, keep watching.

OK

To pronounce the /ɛ/ sound,

you should focus on the correct position of your tongue and jaw.

Partially open your mouth,

slightly spread your lips and relax them.

Push your tongue to the front of your mouth and relax it.

Raise the middle of your tongue to the roof of your mouth.

The tip of your tongue can be lowered just behind your bottom front teeth.

Remember,

the /ɛ/ is a relaxed sound,

so your tongue and lips should be relaxed.

Your jaw should be partially lowered.

Now let's try saying it:

/ɛ/

/ɛ/

/ɛ/

This is the American vowel sound /æ/,

as in the word "cat."

You can also hear this sound

in words like

"at,"

"half,"

"man,"

or "laugh."

That's good, but it's much better when the words rhyme!

Let's learn how to pronounce the /æ/ sound like an American!

OK

To pronounce the /æ/ sound,

you should focus on the correct position of your tongue and jaw.

Open your mouth as wide as possible,

slightly spread your lips and tense them.

Tense your tongue, flatten it and push it forward.

Your tongue should be positioned very low in your mouth.

The tip of your tongue should be touching the back of your bottom front teeth.

Remember,

the /æ/ is a very open vowel sound,

so your jaw should be very low and your tongue should be very flat.

Now, let's try saying it:

/æ/

/æ/

/æ/

This is the American vowel sound /ʌ/,

as in the word "us."

You can also hear this sound

in words like

but,”

come,”

young,”

orflood.”

How about a phrase with this sound?

We've got one for you!

Let's find out how to make the /ʌ/ sound.

OK.

To make the /ʌ/ sound,

you should focus on the correct position of your lips and tongue.

Open your mouth a little,

relax your lips,

and put them in a neutral position.

Place your tongue in the middle of your mouth,

not too high or too low.

Note that the /ʌ/ vowel sound is used in stressed syllables,

but your lips and tongue should not be tense.

Your tongue should be in the center of your mouth.

Let's try saying it:

/ʌ/

/ʌ/

/ʌ/

This is the American vowel sound /ə/,

as in the word "ago."

You can also hear this sound in words like

above, ,

person,

parent,

or "action."

Do you want to hear it in a sentence?

Here you go:

If you want to pronounce the /ə/ sound like an American, keep watching.

OK.

To pronounce the /ə/ sound, you should focus on relaxing your tongue and lips.

Slightly open your mouth,

relax your lips,

and leave them in a neutral position.

Place your tongue in the middle of your mouth and relax it.

Remember,

the /ə/ sound is very relaxed,

so your tongue and lips should be relaxed, when you pronounce it.

Let's try saying it:

/ə/

/ə/

/ə/

This is the American vowel sound /ɑ/,

as in the word "got."

You can also hear this sound in words like

top,

want,

box,

or "wash."

Now let's step up your game with a sentence:

The /ɑ/ is a tricky sound,

keep watching to learn how to pronounce it correctly.

OK,

to pronounce the /ɑ/ sound, you should focus on the correct position of your jaw and tongue.

Open your mouth as wide as possible.

Relax your lips and allow them to rest in a neutral position.

Flatten your tongue and place it very low in your mouth.

Your tongue should be in the center of your mouth.

The tip of your tongue should be touching the back of your bottom front teeth.

Remember,

the /ɑ/ is a very open sound,

so your mouth should be open as wide as possible.

Let's try saying it:

/ɑ/

/ɑ/

/ɑ/

This is the American vowel sound /u/,

as in the word "blue."

You can also hear this sound in words like

rule,

too,

do,

or "new."

Want a challenge?

Here's a sentence with lots of words with this sound.

Next you'll learn how to make the /u/ sound correctly.

OK,

to make the /u/ sound,

you should focus on the correct position of your jaw, lips and tongue.

Open your mouth a little and push your lips out,

making a small tense circle.

Pull your tongue far back in your throat and tense it.

Raise the back of the tongue toward the roof of your mouth.

Remember,

the /u/ is a tense sound,

so your lips and tongue should be tense.

Your tongue should be pulled back in your mouth.

Let's try saying it:

/u/

/u/

/u/

This is the American vowel sound /ʊ/,

as in the wordput.”

You can also hear this sound in words like

push,”

book,”

wolf,”

orcould.”

Awesome, isn't it?

Here's more of this sound.

Do you know how to make the /ʊ/ like an American?

If you're not quite sure, keep watching.

OK.

to pronounce the /ʊ/ sound,

you should focus on the correct position of your jaw, lips and tongue.

Slightly open your mouth,

round your lips,

and relax them.

Pull your tongue back in your mouth and relax it.

Lift the back of your tongue toward the roof of your mouth.

Remember,

the /ʊ/ is a relaxed sound,

so your tongue and lips should be relaxed,

and your tongue should be pulled back.

Now let's try saying it:

/ʊ/

/ʊ/

/ʊ/

This is the American vowel sound /oʊ/,

as in the word "go."

You can also hear this sound in words like

so,”

snow,”

coat,”

orthough.”

We know that you love this sound so much,

that you won't be able to resist a sentence.

If you've ever mispronounced the /oʊ/ sound,

keep watching to learn how to fix it.

OK.

To pronounce the /oʊ/ sound,

you should focus on the correct position of your jaw, lips and tongue.

Round your lips and make them tense.

Then pull them in a tighter circle.

Pull your tongue back and tense it.

Remember,

the /oʊ/ is a tense sound,

so your lips and tongue should be very tense.

Your jaw should be partially lowered.

Let's try saying it:

/oʊ/

/oʊ/

/oʊ/

This is the American vowel sound /ɔ/,

as in the word "on."

You can also hear this sound in words like

off,

cause,

all,

or "saw."

Ever heard of the saying "no pain, no gain"?

That'll apply to the following sentence:

Let's find out how to make the /ɔ/ sound.

OK.

To pronounce the /ɔ/ sound,

you should focus on the position of your jaw, lips and tongue.

Open your mouth as wide as possible,

and round your lips.

Flatten your tongue

and pull it back.

Place your tongue very low in your mouth.

The tip of your tongue should be touching the back of your bottom front teeth.

Remember,

the /ɔ/ is a very open sound,

so your jaw should be as open as possible.

Let's try saying it:

/ɔ/

/ɔ/

/ɔ/

This is the American R-colored vowel /ɝ/,

as in the word "first."

You can also hear this sound in words like

girl,

her,

learn,

or "word."

You know what?

The /ɝ/ deserves its own phrase.

Now let's focus on how to make the /ɝ/ sound.

OK.

Pronunciation of the R-colored vowel /ɝ/

is very similar to the /r/ consonant.

To make the /ɝ/ sound,

open your mouth a little,

and leave your lips neutral,

or round them slightly.

The /ɝ/ is a tense vowel sound,

so your tongue,

mouth,

and throat should be tense, when you pronounce it.

Raise the front of your tongue toward the alveolar ridge

behind your upper front teeth,

but don't touch it.

Curl back the tip of your tongue.

Now slightly lower the center of your tongue.

and raise its back.

Note that your tongue should be very tense.

Remember,

the tip of your tongue should be curled back,

and it should never touch the alveolar ridge

behind your upper front teeth.

Now

let's try saying it:

/ɝ/

/ɝ/

/ɝ/

This is the American R-colored vowel /ɚ/,

as in the word "after."

You can also hear this sound

in words like

"enter,"

"color,"

"dollar,"

or "nature."

We can't stop ourselves from making a sentence with this sound.

Lets find out how to make the relaxed /ɚ/ sound.

OK.

Pronunciation of the R-colored vowel /ɚ/

is very similar to the /ɝ/ vowel or the /r/ consonant.

To make the /ɚ/ sound,

open your mouth a little

and leave your lips neutral, or round them slightly.

The /ɚ/ is a weak sound,

so your tongue and throat should be relaxed.

Raise the front of your tongue toward the alveolar ridge

behind your upper front teeth,

but don't touch it.

Next.

Curl back the tip of your tongue.

Now slightly lower the center of your tongue

and raise its back.

Note that your tongue should be relaxed.

Remember,

the tip of your tongue should be curled back

and it should never touch the alveolar ridge.

Now let's try saying it:

/ɚ/

/ɚ/

/ɚ/

The Description of Interactive (not anymore, see the pinned comment) Vowel Sounds Chart: American English Pronunciation