English Vowel Sounds Chart

By Matt Baker email   Updated 8 Jan 2013

Although there are only 5 vowel letters in English, there are actually 15 unique vowel sounds. This chart shows all those vowel sounds according to their standard North American pronunciation.

North American
Dictionary Symbol

Phonetic Alphabet

Example word
with main spelling

Example word(s)
with alternate spellings

Short a

a æ hat

Long a

ā ei hate

rain, say, steak, they, eight, vein, straight

Short e

e ɛ pet

bread, said

Long e

ē i: Pete

meet, meat, chief, he, key, sunny

Short i

i ɪ kit


Long i

ī ɑi kite

lied, wild, night, height, fly

Short o

o ɑ hop

fraud, law, talk, father, fought, taught

Long o

ō ou hope

toe, boat, most, grow, though, soul

Short u

u u cut

touch, some, about

Long u

ū ɪu: cute

cue, pupil, few

Short oo

oo ʊ book

would, bush

Long oo

ōō u: boot

blue, new, suit, flute, soup, shoe, do, through


oy oi boy



ow ɑu cow

out, drought


ir ɹ bird

turn, work, syrup, dollar, faster, learn

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