What sound is this in English

Stop Being Confused- What sound is this in English?

Because English letters can say more than one sound, sometimes it can become quite confusing and students ask me ‘what sound is this in English?’

The vowels in English can be especially confusing. This time I thought I would address the ‘a’ letter/vowel and hopefully reduce the confusion.

What English sound is this?

In British and Australian standard English, the ‘a’ letter can say 4 things!

In American standard English it can say 3 things.

The ‘a’ English sound in British and Australian English

The ‘a’ letter can say:

1) /æ/ as in: hat, have, band, rattling, random, and, plant, carrot, can, had

2)British /eɪ/ Australian /æi/ as in: navy, saving, raving, apron, making, aim, famous, trade, came

3)/ɑː/ as in: park, father, bath, start, heart, balm, calm, path, dark, tarnish, art, can’t

4)/ɔː/ – when an ‘a’ is written before an /l/, the ‘a’ says ‘aw’.  As in : all, ball, almost, fall, already, talk, walk, always

 Going from 1) /ae/ as the most common usage to 4) as the lesser common usage in English.

The ‘a’ English sound in American English

1) /æ/ as in: hat, have, band, rattling, random, and, plant, carrot, can, had

2) /eɪ/ as in:  navy, saving, raving, apron, making, aim, famous, trade, came

3) /ɑ/ as in: father, calm, balm, palm, almond (this vowel can also be written as ‘o’ such as in hot, pot, olive, got, job)

 Going from 1) /ae/ as the most common usage to 3) as the lesser common usage in English.

To hear how these sounds are made in these words, have a listen to the vowel sections in our British, American and Australian accent reduction courses.

You can also learn some more about English vowels here.

Best wishes, Esther

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