Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Vowel 6: /ɒ/

Comparison with Spanish

English /ɒ/ is more open than Spanish /o/. Spanish /o/ is pronounced with the lips slightly more rounded and with less opening of the jaws. The most common spelling for this vowel is <o> - hot, rock, bottle, cod, etc.


- This pot weighs a lot.
- There's a spot on the clock.
- It's a long rod.

American English

In American English this vowel is pronounced /ɑː/ or /ɔː/, depending on the word:

British English:       cot /kɒt/,   song /sɒŋ/
American English:  cot /kɑːt/,  song /sɑːŋ/, /sɔːŋ/

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Vowel 5: /ɑː/

Comparison with Spanish

English /ɑː/ sounds slightly different from Spanish /a/ because the former is a back vowel whereas the latter is central. The lips are neutral.

A common spelling for this vowel is <ar>: car, far, garden. Other spellings are <ass>, <ast>, <alf>, <ant>, <ath>: pass, past, half, can’t, bath.


- Is it far to the car?
- Half the class won't pass the exam.
- He plays darts in the bath.

American English

In American English, the spellings <ass>, <ast>, <alf>, <ant>, <ath> are pronounced with vowel 4 /æ/, not vowel 5 /ɑː/:

British English:       pass /pɑːs/
American English:  pass /pæs/

Vowel 4: /æ/

Comparison with Spanish

English /æ/ is more open than Spanish /e/ but closer than /a/. The lips are neutral. English /æ/ does not appear in end position. The spelling for this vowel is mostly <a> - bad, black, packet.


- The man was mad.
- The cat sat on the mat.
- That lamb is fat.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Nasal /ŋ/

Comparison with Spanish

This phoneme can be heard in Spanish (as an allophone) when the consonant "n" is followed by the sounds /g/ or /k/: conga, tanga, tanque, cóncavo.

However, it also appears in final position in English, unlike Spanish, so be careful not to pronounce it as /n/. The spellings are:

<ng> sing, long, thing
<n> (followed by the sounds /g/ or /k/) finger, donkey, uncle


- The starlings are on the wing.
- She clings to that thing.
- The donkey is hee-hawing.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Vowel 3: /e/

Comparison with Spanish

English /e/ is very similar to Spanish /e/. The lips are slightly spread. English /e/, however, does not appear in end position. The most common spellings for this vowel are:

 <e> leg, sell, men
 <ea> dead, head, breath


- Tell me the next step.

- He was left for dead.
- I met a redhead.