Resources › For Students and Parents Long and Short Vowel Sounds Share Flipboard Email Print Stockbyte/Getty Images For Students and Parents Homework Help Study Methods Homework Tips Learning Styles & Skills Time Management Private School Test Prep College Admissions College Life Graduate School Business School Law School Distance Learning View More By Grace Fleming Education Expert M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia B.A., History, Armstrong State University Grace Fleming, M.Ed., is a senior academic advisor at Georgia Southern University, where she helps students improve their academic performance and develop good study skills. our editorial process Grace Fleming Updated August 02, 2019 Vowels and consonants are two types of letters in the English alphabet. A vowel sound is created when air flows smoothly, without interruption, through the throat and mouth. Different vowel sounds are produced as a speaker changes the shape and placement of articulators (parts of the throat and mouth). In contrast, consonant sounds happen when the flow of air is obstructed or interrupted. If this sounds confusing, try making the “p” sound and the “k” sound. You will notice that in creating the sound you have manipulated your mouth and tongue to briefly interrupt airflow from your throat. Consonant sounds have a distinct beginning and end, while vowel sounds flow. The pronunciation of each vowel is determined by the position of the vowel in a syllable, and by the letters that follow it. Vowel sounds can be short, long, or silent. Short Vowels If a word contains only one vowel, and that vowel appears in the middle of the word, the vowel is usually pronounced as a short vowel. This is especially true if the word is very short. Examples of short vowels in one-syllable words include the following: AtBatMatBetWetLedRedHitFixRobLotCupBut This rule can also apply to one-syllable words that are a bit longer: RantChantSleptFledChipStripFlopChug When a short word with one vowel ends in s, l, or f, the end consonant is doubled, as in: BillSellMissPassJiffCuff If there are two vowels in a word, but the first vowel is followed by a double consonant, the vowel's sound is short, such as: MatterCannonRibbonWobbleBunny If there are two vowels in a word and the vowels are separated by two or more letters, the first vowels is usually short, for example: LanternBasketTicketBucket Long Vowels The long vowel sound is the same as the name of the vowel itself. Follow these rules: Long A sound is AY as in cake.Long E sound is EE an in sheet.Long I sound is AHY as in like.Long O sound is OH as in bone.Long U sound is YOO as in human or OO as in crude. Long vowel sounds are often created when two vowels appear side by side in a syllable. When vowels work as a team to make a long vowel sound, the second vowel is silent. Examples are: RainSeizeBoatToadHeap A double “e” also makes the long vowel sound: KeepFeelMeek The vowel “i” often makes a long sound in a one-syllable word if the vowel is followed by two consonants: BlightHighMindWildPint This rule does not apply when the “i” is followed by the consonants th, ch, or sh, as in: FishWishRichWith A long vowel sound is created when a vowel is followed by a consonant and a silent “e” in a syllable, as in: StripeStakeConcedeBiteSizeRodeCute The long “u” sound can sound like yoo or oo, such as: CuteFluteLutePruneFumePerfume Most often, the letter “o” will be pronounced as a long vowel sound when it appears in a one-syllable word and is followed by two consonants, as in these examples: MostPostRollFoldSold A few exceptions occur when the “o” appears in a single syllable word that ends in th or sh: PoshGoshMoth Weird Vowel Sounds Sometimes, combinations of vowels and consonants (like Y and W) create unique sounds. The letters oi can make an OY sound when they appear in the middle of a syllable: BoilCoinOink The same sound is made with the letters “oy” when they appear at the end of a syllable: AhoyBoyAnnoySoy Similarly, the letters “ou” make a distinct sound when they appear in the middle of a syllable: CouchRoutPoutAboutAloud The same sound can be made by the letters "ow" when they appear at the end of a syllable: AllowPlowEndow The long “o” sound is also created by the letters “ow” when they appear at the end of a syllable: RowBlowSlowBelow The letters "ay" make the long “a” sound: StayPlayQuay The letter Y can make a long “i” sound if it appears at the end of a one-syllable word: ShyPlyTryFly The letters ie can make a long “e” sound (except after c): BeliefThiefFiend The letters ei can make the long “e” sound when they follow a “c”: ReceiveDeceiveReceipt The letter “y” can make a long e sound if it appears at the end of a word and it follows one or more consonants: BonyHolyRosySassyFieryToastyMostly Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Fleming, Grace. "Long and Short Vowel Sounds." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/long-and-short-vowel-sounds-1856955. Fleming, Grace. (2020, August 26). Long and Short Vowel Sounds. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/long-and-short-vowel-sounds-1856955 Fleming, Grace. "Long and Short Vowel Sounds." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/long-and-short-vowel-sounds-1856955 (accessed March 4, 2021). copy citation Watch Now: Should You Use A, An or And?