What are vowels? How many vowels are there in the English language? Are vowels and vowel sounds the same? Find answers to these questions, and also go through the list of vowels, vowel sounds and words with and without vowels in this article.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Vowel?
- Vowel Sounds in English
- Classification of Vowels
- Pure Vowels
- List of Pure Vowels with Examples
- List of Diphthongs with Examples
- Types of Vowels/Vowel Sounds
- Short Vowels
- Long Vowels
- Short Vowel Sounds
- Long Vowel Sounds
- Consonants That Blend In
- Is ‘Y’ a Vowel?
- Common Mistakes Made with the Use of Vowels
- Use of Vowels in Words
- List of Words with Vowels
- List of Words with No Vowels
- Frequently Asked Questions on Vowels and Vowel Sounds in English
What Is a Vowel?
The term ‘vowel’ is used to refer to letters used to represent vowel sounds. In the English language, five letters among the twenty-six letters of the English alphabet are called vowels. They are a, e, i, o, and u. The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines a vowel as “a letter that represents a vowel sound”. Now, let us find out what a vowel sound is.
What Is a Vowel Sound?
A vowel sound is a speech sound that is pronounced without the lips, tongue, teeth or throat blocking the air produced when uttering the letter. According to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, a vowel sound is “a speech sound in which the mouth is open, and the tongue is not touching the top of the mouth, the teeth, etc., so that the flow of air is not limited”. There are only five vowels in the English language, but there are twenty vowel sounds in total. Out of the twenty, eight of them are called diphthongs. Let us look at the following lists of vowel sounds and diphthongs to have a clearer idea.
Classification of Vowels
Vowels are classified into two – pure vowels and diphthongs.
Vowels which have a single vowel sound when pronounced are called pure vowels. The twelve vowel sounds we have mentioned earlier are pure vowels. Words such as announce(ə), fret(e), sun(ʌ), tick(ɪ), please(iː), dot(ɒ), foot(ʊ), food(uː), word(ɜː), warm(ɔː), arm(aː) and pant(æ) come under this category.
Pure vowels are further classified into two – checked vowels and free vowels. Read on to learn what they are.
Among the 12 vowel sounds, 7 of them are considered checked vowels. They are ʌ, e, ə, ʊ, ɪ, æ and ɒ. These vowels cannot occur at the end of open syllables.
The five vowel sounds uː, iː, ɜː, aː and ɔː are considered free vowels. These vowels can be used at the end of open syllables.
List of Pure Vowels with Examples
The 12 vowel sounds in English have been provided below with examples to help you understand. Check them out.
Diphthongs are speech sounds formed by the combination of two vowel sounds. They do not resemble the speech sound of either vowel sound, instead form an entirely new speech sound.
List of Diphthongs with Examples
Given below is a table with the eight diphthongs in the English language. Go through the examples given for each diphthong to clearly understand what the phoneme sounds like.
Types of Vowels/Vowel Sounds
Vowels/vowel sounds are categorised into two based on the length of the vowel sound and the number of vowels. They are
- Short vowels
- Long vowels
Let us look at each of them in detail.
Short vowels are those that appear individually in words. These words normally end with consonants. They can, in no way, appear at the end of the last syllable of a word.
Here are a few examples.
- ‘a’ in ‘pan’
- ‘e’ in ‘rent’
- ‘i’ in ‘pit’
- ‘o’ in ‘cot’
- ‘u’ in ‘truck’
The term ‘long vowels’ is used to refer to two or more vowels that appear in words. Words with long vowels can start/end with vowels. Take a look at the following examples to understand.
- ‘a’ in ‘fake’
- ‘e’ in ‘tedious’’
- ‘i’ in ‘blind’
- ‘o’ in ‘rote’
- ‘u’ in ‘cumin’
The categorisation of vowel sounds as long and short would not be the same. There is a difference. They would include words with diphthongs as well. Let us look at the following examples to comprehend how it works.
Short Vowel Sounds
- ‘a’ in ‘braid’, ‘falcon’, ‘steak’
- ‘e’ in ‘furry’, ‘tread’, ‘says’
- ‘i’ in ‘women’, ‘eject’, ‘houses’
- ‘o’ in ‘entrepreneur’, ‘cause’, ‘flaw’
- ‘u’ in ‘flood’, ‘done’, ‘son’
Long Vowel Sounds
- ‘a’ in ‘faint’, ‘weight’, ‘dainty’
- ‘e’ in ‘receive’, ‘weak’, ‘encyclopaedia’
- ‘i’ in ‘tight’, ‘ice’, ‘eye’
- ‘o’ in ‘blow’, ‘road’, ‘door’
- ‘u’ in ‘new’, ‘queue’, ‘vacuum’
Consonants That Blend In
Consonants usually have sounds which are, in no way, related to the vowel sounds. However, there are some consonants that blend in with a vowel to form a vowel sound. In these cases, the consonant sound of these consonants are not evident at all. They include w, r, l and y. Here are a few examples.
Is ‘Y’ a Vowel?
The letter ‘y’ is a consonant, but it can be considered a vowel sound. Why is it so? Have you ever noticed the pronunciation of the letter ‘y’ when placed in different positions in words? Analyse the words given below.
Except for the first word, the consonant sound /j/ is not pronounced in any of the other words. So, it can be said that ‘y’ can be considered as both a consonant and vowel sound because of its specific function.
Common Mistakes Made with the Use of Vowels
With the number of examples you have already come across, you would have understood the different spellings that can be possible for a vowel sound. That is the reason the English language has homophones.
Let us look at some examples.
When you look at these, don’t you feel it is easier to learn the phonetic transcription of words than the spelling of words? Well, this is one of the factors that makes the English language interesting.
Use of Vowels in Words
Take a look at the following word lists to learn a few words with vowels and no vowels.
List of Words with Vowels
List of Words with No Vowels
You can check out the articles on vowel words and consonant words to build your vocabulary.
Frequently Asked Questions on Vowels and Vowel Sounds in English
What is a vowel?
The term ‘vowel’ is used to refer to letters used to represent vowel sounds. In the English language, five letters among the twenty-six letters of the English alphabet are called vowels. They are a, e, i, o, and u. The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines a vowel as “a letter that represents a vowel sound”.
What is a vowel sound?
A vowel sound is a speech sound that is pronounced without the lips, tongue, teeth or throat blocking the air produced when uttering the letter. According to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, a vowel sound is “a speech sound in which the mouth is open, and the tongue is not touching the top of the mouth, the teeth, etc., so that the flow of air is not limited”.
How many vowels are there in the English alphabet?
There are 5 vowels in the English alphabet, namely, a, e, i, o, and u.
How many vowel sounds are there in the English language?
There are 20 vowel sounds in the English language, out of which 8 are diphthongs.
What are diphthongs?
Diphthongs are vowel sounds formed by the combination of two vowel sounds. They are also referred to as vowel combinations or double vowel sounds.
- 7 short vowels: /ɪ/ /ʊ/ /ə/ /e/ /ɒ/ /ʌ/ /æ/
- 5 long vowels: /iː/ /uː/ /ɑː/ /ɔː/ /ɜː/
- 8 diphthongs: /eɪ/ /aɪ//ɔɪ/ /əʊ/ /aʊ/ /ɪə/ /eə/ /ʊə/
- /i:/, as in “me”, “these”, “need” and “be”.
- /ɪ/ as in “with”, “this”, “if” and “think”.
- /ʊ/ as in “put”, “would”, “look”, and “woman”.
- /u:/ as in “to”, “you”, “new” and “who”.
|2||d||dad, add, milled|
|3||f||fat, cliff, phone, enough, half, often|
|4||g||gun, egg, ghost, guest, prologue|
|Vowel Sound||Example Words|
|/?/||The, About, Could, Us|
|/?:/||Her, Work, Learn, Word, Burn, Turn, Firm, Bird, Curd, Curse, Curt, Shirt, Turk, Curl, Hurl, Earl, Pearl, Sir, Worm, worth, Fir, Stir, Sir, Occur, Purr|
|iː||be, see, beach, ski, city|
|ɪ||big, busy, England, been, myth|
|ʊ||full, look, woman|
|uː||who, food, music, you, new|
|Short vowel sound letter||Short vowel sound words|
|a||pan, nap, ham, glass, hat, pat, cat, wag|
|e||bed, fed, test, jet, web, smell, sell, fell, bell|
|i||milk, silk, swim, mitt, hit, hill, pill, him, lip|
|o||hop, mop, pop, got, rob, sob, pond, mob|
- ch: chin and ouch.
- sh: ship and push.
- th: thing.
- th: this.
- wh: when.
- ng: ring.
- nk: rink.
- Sound 1 – 'a' as in apple – short vowel sound – æ (IPA) ă (AHD) ...
- Sound 2 – 'a' as in snake – long vowel sound – eɪ (IPA) ā (AHD) ...
- Sound 3 – 'a' as in father – broad sound – ɑː (IPA) ä (AHD) ...
- Sound 4 – 'a' as in ball – o sound – ɔː (IPA) ô (AHD) ...
- Sound 5 – 'a' as in many – e sound – ɛ (IPA) ĕ (AHD)
It is generally agreed that there are approximately 44 sounds in English, with some variation dependent on accent and articulation. The 44 English phonemes are represented by the 26 letters of the alphabet individually and in combination.
There are 5 vowels: A, E, I, O and U.What are the 5 types of vowels? ›
English has five vowels, right? A, E, I, O and U.What are the five basic vowels? ›
While there are thousands of vowel sounds in the world's languages there are only five important ones for singing in any language: I, E, A, O, U, which are pronounced eee, ay (as in hay), ah, oh, and oooo (as in pool).What is the most common vowel sounds? ›
The most common vowel letter is 'e' but the most common vowel sound is the sound /uh/ (like the sound someone makes when trying to think of a word). It sounds like the short /u/ sound, but is softer and weaker.What are the 11 vowel sounds of English? ›
Eleven of these sounds are either simple phonemes which means that are not accompanied by a glide movement (/ɪ/, /ε/, /æ/, /ɑ/, /ͻ/, /ʊ/ and /ʌ/), or vowels with an adjacent glide, that is, accompanied by /y/ or /w/ (/iy/, /ey/, /ow/, /uw/).What are the 14 vowel sounds in English? ›
With our revised definition, there are at least 14 vowel sounds that are common to almost all English dialects: These are the sounds in the words BEAT, BIT, BAIT, BET, BAT, BOT, BUTT, BOOT, BITE, BOUT, and BERT. There's also the vowel in PUT, the vowel in BOYS, and a vowel called schwa.What are 10 examples of short and long vowels? ›
The short vowels can represented by a curved symbol above the vowel: ă, ĕ, ĭ, ŏ, ŭ. The long vowels can be represented by a horizontal line above the vowel: ā, ē, ī, ō, ū. Here are some examples of short vowel words: at, egg, it, ox, up. Here are some examples of long vowel words: ate, each, ice, oak, use.What are the 7 vowels sound? ›
In English, the word vowel is commonly used to refer both to vowel sounds and to the written symbols that represent them (a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes w and y).What are the 10 vowels in English? ›
These letters are vowels in English: A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes W and Y. It is said that Y is "sometimes" a vowel, because the letter Y represents both vowel and consonant sounds. In the words cry, sky, fly, my and why, letter Y represents the vowel sound /aɪ/.What is the vowel chart? ›
The vowel chart is a diagram to understand vowel sounds. It tries to represent where the tongue lies in relation to the openness of the mouth when you produce a vowel. So the front closed vowel /i:/ means that your tongue is in a forward position in the mouth, which is in a relatively closed position.
Every language has vowels, but languages vary in the number of vowel sounds they use. While we learn A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y, English, depending on speaker and dialect, is generally considered to have at least 14 vowel sounds.What are the 3 vowel sounds? ›
These three vowel pairs are ee vs i, i vs e, and e vs a. You may hear the differences between these sounds very clearly, or you may find that they sound very similar. I'm going to give you guys some tips about how to hear the difference between these sounds.What are the rules for vowel sounds? ›
Vowels in syllables
Every syllable of every word must have at least one vowel sound. A vowel can stand alone in a syllable, as in u•nit and an•i•mal. It can also be surrounded by consonants, as in jet, nap•kin, and fan•tas•tic.
The short vowel sound for A can be found in words like apple, attitude, cat, actually, and can.What is an example of a long vowel sound? ›
Long vowel sounds are where a vowel makes the same sound as the way it's name is pronounced. For instance, the 'a' in the word 'skate' is an example of a long vowel. Long vowel sounds can be made up of just one vowel or a combination of multiple vowels.What are long vowels examples for kids? ›
Placing an E at the end of a word also creates a long vowel sound. This happens in words like 'bake,' 'bike,' 'mote,' 'mute. ' Notice how the word 'mute' makes the long 'U' sound and the word 'bike' makes the long 'I' sound.Is tape a long or short vowel? ›
Which word has a long vowel sound? The word “tape” ends in a silent e. has the long a sound. The word “bake” ends in a silent e.What are the 8 diphthongs with 10 examples? ›
- /eɪ/ as in day, pay, say, lay.
- /aɪ/ as in sky, buy, cry, tie.
- /ɔɪ/ as in boy, toy, coy or the first syllable of soya.
- /ɪə/ as in beer, pier, hear.
- /eə/ as in bear, pair, and hair.
- /ʊə/ as in tour, poor or the first syllable of tourist.
- /əʊ/ as in oh, no, so, or phone.
Linguistic research indicates that the most common sound in spoken English is the schwa vowel sound. The phonetic symbol for schwa is /ə/. Schwa sounds like “uh”.What are 5 examples of sound? ›
- Sound from an air conditioning fan.
- an airplane taking off.
- a ballerina dancing in toe shoes.
- popping a balloon.
- time alarm of a microwave.
- a boombox blaring.
- a broom swishing.
- the noise of a buzzing bee.
- sh - as in she or wish.
- kn - as in know or knock.
- ch - as in chair or chat.
- ph - as in phone or phonics.
- wr - as in wrench or wreck.
- ck - as in tick or pluck.
- ss - as in chess or class.
- tch - as in watch or witch.
Vowel in a Sentence
'E' is the most frequently used vowel, being used to form words like 'feel' and 'exercise. ' 2. Sounding out each vowel, the speech therapist helped the little girl make the 'a' and 'o' sounds with her mouth.
An initial sound table is a table, list or chart which shows the initial sound letter of a word together with its picture (pictured words). The initial sound table can assist students to recognise initial sounds and to get first reading and writing skills.What are the 24 consonants sounds and their examples? ›
English has 24 consonant sounds. Some consonants have voice from the voicebox and some don't. These consonants are voiced and voiceless pairs /p/ /b/, /t/ /d/, /k/ /g/, /f/ /v/, /s/ /z/, /θ/ /ð/, /ʃ/ /ʒ/, /ʈʃ/ /dʒ/. These consonants are voiced /h/, /w/, /n/, /m/, /r/, /j/, /ŋ/, /l/.What kind of vowel is i? ›
|i||high front unround vowel||the long e sound|
|e||mid front unround vowel||the long a sound|
|ɛ||mid front lax unround vowel||the short e sound|
|æ||low front unround vowel||the short a sound|
|a||low central unround vowel||the short o sound|
EUNOIA is the shortest word in English which has all five vowels.What word has no vowels? ›
What are the words without vowels? The words without vowels are why, hmm, hymn, xlnt, wynd, myths, thy, dry, cyst, etc.What 5-letter word has 3 vowels? ›
Seven letter words with this property include adoulie, douleia, eucosia, eulogia, eunomia, eutopia, miaoued, moineau, sequoia, and suoidea. (The scientific name iouea is a genus of Cretaceous fossil sponges.)Can you guess a 5 vowels word? ›
THERE ARE MANY WORDS CONTAINS ALL 5 VOWELS:EDUCATION, AUTOMOBILE, EVACUATION, REMUNERATION, REGULATION, MISBEHAVIOUR, AUTHORITIES, AUTHORIZE, AUTHENTICATION, PRECAUTION, MIRACULOUSNESS, MISDEMEANOUR, PREAMBULATION, AURIFEROUS, MENSURATION, TAMBOURINE, UNOSTENTATIOUS, UNOBJECTIONABLE, MULTIMILLIONAIRE, CONSEQUENTIAL, ...
- UVEA. 9 points. ...
- BEAU. 8 points. ...
- MEOU. 8 points. ...
- MOUE. 8 points. ...
- OUMA. 8 points. ...
- OUPA. 8 points. ...
- AGUE. 7 points. ...
- APIO. 7 points. a perennial herb, Arracacia xanthorrhiza, of the parsley family, found in the Andes, having large, fleshy, edible roots..
Most people think there are 5 vowel sounds in American English because there are 5 vowel letters. But actually, there are 15-20+ vowel sounds in American English (depending on who you ask and how you classify them) but only 5 letters in the written alphabet to represent these sounds.What are the 12 pure vowels sound? ›
Monophthongs - Examples of 12 Pure Vowel Sounds - EnglishBix
There are 12 pure vowels or monophthongs in English - /i:/, /?/, /?/, /u:/, /e/, /?/, /?:/, /?:/, /æ/, /?/, /?:/ and /?/.
In the English alphabet, there are five vowels and they are: a, e, i, o, and u. At times, 'y' also represents a vowel sound. Other than these five letters, all other letters in the alphabet are called consonants.What are the 20 consonant sounds in English language? ›
In English, these letters are B, C, D, F, G, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q, S, T, V, X, Z and often H, R, W, Y. In English orthography, the letters H, R, W, Y and the digraph GH are used for both consonants and vowels.What are the 44 phonetic sounds? ›
- 20 Vowel Sounds. 6 Short Vowels. a. e. i. o. u. oo u. cat. leg. sit. top. rub. book. put. 5 Long Vowels. ai ay. ee ea. ie igh. oe ow. oo ue. paid. tray. bee. beat. pie. high. toe. flow. moon. ...
- 24 Consonant Sounds.
Other English accents will have a slightly different number of vowel sounds, but generally speaking, English has around 20 distinct vowel phonemes.What 6 letter word has 5 vowels? ›
Or Maybe It's This One: Eunoia
Its main claim to fame, though, is that it is the only six-letter word that has all five of the main vowels in English.
English has 24 consonant sounds. Some consonants have voice from the voicebox and some don't. These consonants are voiced and voiceless pairs /p/ /b/, /t/ /d/, /k/ /g/, /f/ /v/, /s/ /z/, /θ/ /ð/, /ʃ/ /ʒ/, /ʈʃ/ /dʒ/. These consonants are voiced /h/, /w/, /n/, /m/, /r/, /j/, /ŋ/, /l/.What are the examples of 3 consonant sounds? ›
|scr- blends||shr- blends||spr- blends|
The word diphthong comes from the Greek word for “two sounds”. There are three major diphthongs in English that have quite a noticeable change in the quality of the vowel sound.