Lesson 2 – Vowels /i/, /ɪ/, /ɛ/, /æ/

Overview of the sounds of American English



i read
ɪ him
ɛ set
æ bad
ɑ father
ɔ saw
ʊ good
u shoot
ʌ sun
ə above
ɔɪ voice
ɝ earth
ɚ mother
ɑr car
ɛr there
ɪr here
ɔr north
p pass
b bill
t toad
d dear
k cool
g good
ʧ chair
ʤ jump
f father
v very
θ think
ð they
s set
z zoo
ʃ shoe
ʒ usually
m me
n no
ŋ sing
l loud
ɫ cool
w we
j yes
h happy
r red
ʔ button
ɾ water

The /i/ sound

Compare to /iː/ in British English. It is the same sound, but in American English sometimes it is long and sometime it is short. The two dots for /iː/ in British English means that it is a long sound.


each, read, me, happy, eel, feel, Peter


  • beam me up
  • each of us
  • you and me
  • I believe it
  • three bees

Nursery Rhyme

Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater
Had a wife and couldn’t keep her
Put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well

The /ɪ/ sound


it, him, rib, hid, sit, little, divide, pig


  • it, eat
  • sit, seat
  • ship, sheep
  • sin, seen
  • lid, lead
  • is, ease


  • go with him
  • in a bin
  • finish in a minute
  • tick tock


I’m A Little Teapot

I’m a little teapot
Short and stout
Here is my handle
Here is my spout
When I get all steamed up
I just shout
Tip me over and pour me out

Are You Sleeping, Brother John?

Are you sleeping,
are you sleeping,
Brother John,
Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing,
morning bells are ringing.
Ding, dong, ding.
Ding, dong, ding.

The /ɛ/ sound


edge, set, said, chess, meh, elephant, end, rest


  • sit, seat, set
  • lid, lead, LED
  • if, F
  • here, hair
  • seed, said


  • dead end
  • ten hens
  • to Ken and them

The /æ/ sound


ash, bad, bat, nah, ham, shadow, cat, bath


  • head, had
  • hen, ham
  • said, sad
  • Ellen, Allan
  • beg, bag


  • sit in the sand
  • a bad man
  • cancel my plans
  • pots and pans
  • a black backpack

Tongue twisters

  • Can you can a can as a canner can can a can?


Note the words with the /æ/ sound in it.


Download the American English Pronunciation app. We will be using it quite a bit in this class.

Practice listening to the four sounds that we learned today.

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