The online language laboratory

American English....Single Vowel Sounds
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the, a, seven, letter, calendar, an, and, but, madam, normal, ocean, Arab, comedy, courageous, nation, woman, around, controversy, circuitous, to, at, from, for*  
bird, heard, herd, work, world, were, curl, urge, girl, early, firm, circuit
beat, seat, sheet, receive, brief, pier, fear, seizure, obscene, here, hear, beer, serene, prenatal, breathe, the (before vowels), leisure, we, he, she
bit, kit, mint, hill, hymn, women, it, which, av(e)rage, cyclical, bicycle, pretty, forage, pigeon, lettuce, busy, business, build, Jesus's, mountain, waited, beloved
bet, let, set, weather, whether, when, pleasure, measure, friend, breath, ahead, instead, feather, realm
air, where, wear, there, their, they're, various, pear, welfare, fair, aware, hair, care, scare, scarce, square
bat, cat, hat, add, madam, and (strong form), back, have, can, can't, ask
bad, mad, sad, glad, man, ma'am, land, fast, last, rather, class, half, halve
father, palm, balm, calm
cart, heart, arm, radar, hard, charm, guard
but (strong form), putt, cup, some, mother, come, other, above, shovel, love, enough, tough ('gh' = 'f')
should, put, good, would, could, wood, wool, woman, wolf
shoe, to ('strong' form), two, too, true, food, wooed, lieutenant, chew, cruise, new, knew, flu, you, who, whose, sue, through, poor, moor, tour, sure, dour
cot, hot, dog, got, God, on, from (final), what, walk, controversy, caught, bought, taught, ought**
clause, auto, call, all, claw, prawn, paw, raw, awe
more, mourn, tore, door, four, sore, roar, pour, pore


* This is the commonest sound in the English language, called the Schwa. "To", "the", "at", "from" and "for"are pronounced like this except at the end of a phrase, in which case the 'strong' form (Eg 'to' rhyming with 'shoe') may be used. The strong forms of "the" (rhyming with "tea") and "to" may also be used before a vowel.  The strong forms of "and" and "but" are used for emphasis. See Other Sounds to hear Schwas in a sentence.


** Several pronunciations here conflict with those given in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.  The sounds speak for themselves.  Please let us know if you have any comments on our classifications.

Last reviewed/extended March 16, 2006

Our warmest thanks go to ...

Speaker Geographical origin Date of recording Approx age

Mr Cory A Perrin
Ms Meg Moir
Mr Tarek El Messidi


Oct 31, 2000
Nov 24, 2000
Mar 2, 2006


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