The correct pronunciation of vowels in English can be complicated, but there are some more rules that can help. Let’s start this page by looking at 3 important points you need to know:
1. Vowels and consonants
You probably already know this, but just to be sure, the 26 letters of the English alphabet are made up of 21 consonants and 5 vowels. The vowels are the letters A, E I, O and U.
2. Short and long vowels
In English, vowels can be both short and long. Here are some examples
3. Open and closed syllables
Every word in English is built up of syllables. For example, football is 2 syllables – foot and ball. On open syllable is a syllable that ends with a vowel, and a closed syllable ends in a consonant.
Examples of open syllables: me, he, babies (ba+bies)
Examples of closed syllables: cat, sat, spelling (spell+ing)
So how does this information help with pronunciation?
If you can take a longer, more difficult word and break it into syllables, this will help with spelling and pronunciation. Here are some example:
Syllables: MO + TIV + A + TION
Short or long vowel sound: we can see that the first syllable is open (it ends with a vowel), so should be a long vowel sound
Syllables: OP+ ER + A + TION
Short or long vowel sound: we can see that the first syllable is closed (it ends with a consonant), so should be a short vowel sound
So how does this information help with spelling?
You can also use these techniques to help you with spelling. Here’s a simple example:
If you were having problems trying to spell the word, just think to yourself “Is the vowel sound short or long?” In this case, it is a short vowel sound (kitten, not kiiiitten). That tells you that is a closed syllable ending with a consonant, so must have T at the end of the syllable. That should then lead you to know that it should be spelled KIT – TEN
We hope these tips for better pronunciation help!