Long and short vowel sounds

To spell English vowel sounds correctly, the first basic step is to understand the difference between LONG and SHORT sounds.

Hear the long sound of
the letter a as in ape
long sound of the letter a as in ape
Hear the short sound of the letter a as in alligator short sound of letter a

Listen to the first sounds of these words:

The sound /a/ at the start of ape is the same as the name of the letter. When this sound is said aloud, it is possible to keep the same sound going for as long as you have breath - so it is called a LONG sound.

The sound /a/ at the start of alligator is quite different. When you say this sound aloud, muscles at the back of your mouth seem to cut off the sound. This is the SHORT sound of a.

The same goes for each of the vowel sounds. Read these words aloud, listening to the first sound of each:

The long vowel sounds

long vowel sounds - learning vowels long vowel sounds - learning vowels long vowel sounds - learning vowels long vowel sounds - learning vowels long vowel sounds - learning vowels
ape evening ice-cream oval unicorn

The short vowel sounds

short vowel sounds - learning vowels short vowel sounds - learning vowels short vowel sounds - learning vowels short vowel sounds - learning vowels short vowel sounds - learning vowels
alligator elephant insect octopus umbrella


Listen to the first sound of each word. Decide if it is a long or short sound.

If it is a long sound select Long, if it is short select Short


Select Long or Short

open Long
Short
under Long
Short
apple Long
Short
every Long
Short
equal Long
Short
icon Long
Short
office Long
Short
useful Long
Short
ink Long
Short
alien Long
Short


 

Skip this exercise and go to the next part of this unit: Introduction to syllables *

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Unit 1: The basic 'Building Bricks' of the English language
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