Pronunciation of Long and Short Vowel Sounds and Minimal Pairs

Pronunciation of Long and Short Vowel Sounds and Minimal Pairs

LaurieGardner
by LaurieGardner 6,285 views

All vowels have at least two main sounds that they make depending on surrounding letters and sounds. These are usually referred to as the long and short sound of a vowel. This article shows some common spellings for long and short vowels as well as some minimal pairs where words change from long to short vowels.

 

The long a sound:

a → race, able, make

ai → wait, aim

ay → slay, day, may

ei → eight, weight

ey → they, hey

ea → break, great

 

The short a sound:

a → cat, mad, dance

 

The long e sound:

e → be, eve

ee → see, sleep

ea → meal, peace, read

ie/ei → field, believe

 

The short e sound:

e → let, tell, send

ea → bread, weather, dead

 

The long i sound:

i → pilot, file, idea

igh → fight, sigh, light

ie → lie, cried, tie

y → by, why, apply

 

The short i sound:

i → pin, tip, finish

e → pretty

y → myth, symbol, system

 

The long o sound:

o → remote, hope, wrote

oa → boat, soap, oak

ow → snow, tomorrow, window

oe → toe, soe

ough → though, bough, thorough

 

The short o sound:

o → pot, forgot, clock

 

The long u sound:

u → use, unit, future

ue → argue, hue, rescue

ew → new, stew, few

oe → shoe, canoe

 

The short u sound:

o → opinion, come, color

u → conduct, cut

ou → couple, tough

 

An interesting thing about long and short vowels is that the pronunciation can be changed with the addition or subtraction of one letter. When this happens, words are called minimal pairs. Here are some examples of minimal pairs for long and short vowel sounds:

at → ate

bat → bate

cap → cape

hat → hate

tap → tape

rat → rate

beet → bet

neat → net

seat → set

wheat → wet

time → tim

bite → bit

light → lit

site → sit

might → mit

wine → win

cope → cop

hope → hop 

cone → con   

note → not   

coat → cot   

cube → cub   

tube → tub   

cute → cut 

dude → dud

 

Here are some other resources on busyteacher.org:

Minimal Pairs Bingo

 

Missing Vowels: Minimal Pairs with "I" and "Ee" Sounds

 

Pronunciation: Minimal Pairs Reading Practice

 

Beginning Phonics and Writing: A and U Minimal Pairs Minimal Pairs: Vowels

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