Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Did you know there are 20 vowels in English?

  • You heard me correctly!

  • There are actually 20 different vowel sounds

  • in British English.

  • But how can that be right?

  • a e i o u and maybe y

  • that's six

  • How can there be twenty?

  • Well, you're right.

  • There are a maximum of six vowels in our writing system

  • but this is just for spelling.

  • When we're speaking

  • we use a maximum of 20 different vowel sounds.

  • The 20 vowel sounds in British English are split into three different categories.

  • Short, long and dipthong.

  • Today, I'm going to show you all of the vowels in British English

  • and teach you a little bit about the categories.

  • Wait, wait, wait! 0:01:08.667,1193:02:47.295 and diphthong.

  • Before all that, I need to teach you about the most important tool we have

  • when we describe the sounds in any language or any accent

  • The IPA

  • or in other words

  • the International Phonetic Alphabet.

  • It's a kind of special alphabet where each letter or phoneme represents a different sound.

  • Some phonemes look just like English

  • for example b

  • but some look different like ʃ

  • or the very confusing j

  • Today, we'll be using these symbols or phonemes to describe the sounds in each category.

  • Let's get started!

  • Short vowels are pretty self-explanatory.

  • They are vowels that have a short sound.

  • We have seven short vowels in British English.

  • /æ/ as in ant

  • /e/ as in egg

  • /ɪ/ as in injure

  • /ɒ/ as in October

  • /ʌ/ as in under

  • /ʊ/ as in put

  • and /ə/ as in amazing

  • 'put' and 'under' have the same vowel.

  • They both have a 'u'

  • But the sound in each word is completely different

  • 'under'

  • 'put'

  • So you can see how there can be many different vowel sounds

  • but only six actual letters in the English alphabet.

  • Long vowels, of course, sound longer

  • and we can tell that they are long vowels

  • because the phonemes have this symbol next to them.

  • Let's look at some long vowels.

  • We have /ɑː/ as in dark

  • /ɜː/ as in early

  • /ɔː/ as in or

  • /uː/ as in chew

  • and /iː/ as in sheep

  • In particular, please make sure that you make a long enough vowel sound.

  • It can be the difference between sheep and ship

  • or worse sheet and sh*t.

  • You know

  • Okay. This final category contains some of the harder vowels to make in English.

  • Why?

  • Because you have to make two sounds in one.

  • For example, /eɪ/ is a combination of /e/ and /ɪ/

  • used in words like 'able'

  • We also have /aɪ/ as in ice cream

  • /oʊ/ as in over

  • /aʊ/ as in out

  • /ɔɪ/ as in boy

  • /eə/ as in care

  • /ɪə/ as in ear

  • and /ʊə/ as in tour

  • In total, we have eight diphthongs

  • but the last one /ʊə/ isn't really used much anymore.

  • In other words, we don't tend to say 'tour' anymore.

  • We choose the simpler way 'tour'.

  • Same as 'cure'.

  • We usually just say 'cure'.

  • I hope you enjoyed this short video on vowel sounds in English.

  • If you like this video,

  • watch out for some pronunciation videos that should be coming soon.

  • Goodbye!

  • If you like this video,

  • please click the subscribe button,

  • click like

  • and thank you for watching!

Did you know there are 20 vowels in English?

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 UK vowel british english alphabet sound short british

20 Vowels in English

  • 6 2
    Amy.Lin posted on 2021/03/13
Video vocabulary