How To Identify Vowel Sounds in English

Are you finding it hard to understand and answer questions on vowel sounds in English test of orals?

In this lesson,

You will learn the pronunciation of the 20 vowel sounds and how to identify and answer them in any oral English question.


ALSO SEE: How To Identify and Answer Questions On Consonant Sounds


Take note.

A link for you to practice real exam past questions on vowel sounds is included at the bottom of this lesson.

How to identify vowel sounds in English

In your exam,

You will either be given a word with underlined letter(s) or a phonetic symbol to find the vowel sound.

For words with underlined letters:

  1. Pronounce the word.
  2. Note the sound of the underlined letter(s).
  3. Pronounce the options.
  4. Pick the option that has the same sound with the one you noted in step (2) above.

For phonetic symbols:

  1. Pronounce the symbol.
  2. Pronounce the options.
  3. Pick the option that has the same sound as the phonetic symbol you pronounced in step (1) above.

How to pronounce the vowel sounds in English

The bold letters in the listed words are the ones that have the same sound with the vowel they are under.

1. Vowel sound /eɪ/

/eɪ/ is pronounced exactly the same way you say the letter “A” in the alphabet.

  • pay
  • great
  • gay
  • grey
  • eight

2. Vowel sound /aɪ/

/aɪ/ is pronounced exactly the way you say the letter “i” or the way you say the word “eye“.

  • die
  • height
  • buy
  • cry

3. Vowel sound /əʊ/

/əʊ/ is pronounced exactly the same way you say the letter “O” in the alphabet.

  • go
  • slow
  • soul
  • hoe
  • follow

4. Vowel sound /ı/

/ı/ is pronounced the same way you say the letter “E” in the alphabet.

It has a SHORT and sharp pronunciation.

  • sit
  • chip
  • lift
  • bit

5. Vowel sound /ı:/

/ı:/ is the longer version of /ı/.

It is pronounced the same way you say the letter “EEE” for long.

  • seat
  • cheap
  • people
  • beat
  • leave

6. Vowel sound /e/

/e/ is pronounced like the “ein the word “egg”.

  • bed
  • dead
  • pen
  • net
  • left

7. Vowel sound /æ/

/æ/ is pronounced like a short “ah” or as if you are about to say “ant“.

It has a SHORT and sharp pronunciation.

  • man
  • cat
  • hand,
  • charm
  • black.

8. Vowel sound /ɑː/

/ɑː/ is the longer version of /æ/.

It is pronounced the same way with “ah” but a bit longer — “ahhh“.

  • car
  • cart
  • heart
  • laugh
  • sergeant

9. Vowel sound /ə/

/ə/ is pronounced like a short “are” or as if you are about to say the word “allow“.

  • anger
  • beggar
  • about
  • mother
  • extra

10. Vowel sound /ɒ/

/ɒ/ is pronounced exactly the same way you say the word “or“.

It has a SHORT and sharp pronunciation.

  • off
  • shot
  • lorry,
  • cough
  • want.

11. Vowel sound /ɔː/

/ɔː/ is the longer version /ɒ/.

It is pronounced the same way you say the word “or” but stretched a little longer — “orrr

  • short
  • roar
  • broad
  • war
  • before

12. Vowel sound /ʊ/

/ʊ/ is pronounced like that final sound you hear when you say the word “who“.

It has a SHORT and sharp pronunciation.

  • put
  • book
  • woman
  • could

13. Vowel sound /uː/

/uː/ is the longer version of /ʊ/.

It is pronounced like that final sound you hear when you stretch the word “whooo“.

  • rude
  • chew
  • group
  • shoe
  • soon

14. Vowel sound /ʌ/

/ʌ/ is pronounced like “uh“.

It sounds similar to /æ/ but more relaxed.

  • son
  • love
  • enough
  • come
  • blood

15. Vowel sound /ɜː/

/ɜː/ is pronounced like “err” or as if you are about to say the word “early“.

Curl your tongue upward so the tip is touching the roof of your mouth.

  • person
  • church
  • bird
  • word
  • journey

16. Vowel sound /ɑʊ/

/ɑʊ/ is pronounced like that first two sounds you hear when you say the word “out”, or when you say “out” without the T.

  • how
  • loud
  • mouth
  • shout
  • proud

17. Vowel sound /ɔɪ/

/ɔɪ/ is pronounced like when you say the word “oil” without the “L”.

  • boy
  • coil
  • annoy
  • toy
  • soil

18. Vowel sound /ʊə/

/ʊə/ is pronounced like you are saying “uwor“.

  • poor
  • tour
  • sewer
  • pure

19. Vowel sound /ɪə/

/ɪə/ is pronounced exactly the same way you say the word “ear“.

  • tier
  • weird
  • beer
  • mere.

20. Vowel sound /eə/

/eə/ is pronounced exactly the same way you say the word “air“.

  • bare
  • heir
  • fair
  • care
  • there

Classwork

Click on the link below to practice past exam questions on vowel sounds now.

GOOD LUCK.

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