Spelling can be tough, especially in the English language. Words aren’t necessarily spoken the way they’re written, even in the most simple letter arrangements. Depending on the position of a letter in a word, the number of letters in the word, and a letter’s relationship to the letters around it, that letter can have its sound changed, or remain silent altogether! Vowels, in particular, have two sounds: short or long. You can learn more about short and long vowel sounds in this guide. Here, we’ll be focusing on just words with a long A sound. Learn more about English pronunciation and vowel sounds in this course.
Long and Short Vowels
A vowel sound is considered long when that vowel is read as its name, like the letter A in the words “aim” and “enable.” A vowel is short when this is not the case, as with A in the words “archery” and “bar.” If English is not your first language, you can practice recognizing long and short vowel sounds by putting an accent mark above the long vowels, like so: ā. The letter /ā/ is pronounced “ayy.” Once you start to get used to certain vocabulary words, and the way English pronunciation works, you can slowly phase these accent marks out. Or, learn more English pronunciation tips with this course.
Words With Long A Sound
While English can sometimes be unpredictable for first-time learners – phase is pronounced with an f? – there are some patterns you’ll begin to notice that can help you identify certain vowel sounds like the long A.
Most commonly, these patterns will come in the form of a-e words, ai words, ay words, and ei words. If you’re looking to move onto the more complex concepts, check out this intermediate English language course.
You might approach A in the middle of a word, like “made,” and wonder how you’re supposed to pronounce it. That E at the end should give you the hint you need. The word “made” is pronounced with a long A sound because the E at the end tying the sound together. If that E wasn’t there, you’d be stuck with the word “mad,” which is spoken with a short A sound and means something different. Other A-E words include:
Words with the combination of letters ai are usually another good sign that a long A sound is involved, at least where those letters are placed. Some ai words include:
Are you looking to teach English language to ESL students? Learn five effective English language teaching methods in this guide.
Another, more obvious indication that a word has a long A sound is the ay combination. The letter A on its own is often not enough to indicate that an “ayy” sound is warranted, but with that added letter Y at the end, it’s practically spelling the long A sound out for you. Some ay words include:
It’s common for English words to use the ei combination to indicate a long A sound, but be wary of its relative rareness. Also be wary not to confuse it with the pronunciation conventions of a language like German, which will always pronounce the ei combination like a long I sound. Some examples of ei words in English include:
Long A Words
While some of these conventions might push you in the right direction on occasion, the rules regarding pronunciation in English are tricky. How do you determine the pronunciation if the letter A is heading the word? You can check out this advanced English grammar course and try to learn the tough stuff, or you can practice vocabulary on a daily basis and grow accustomed to the words of the language. It will sound natural to you in no time.
If English really is your second language, check out this course on how to teach yourself a foreign language for some tips. You can also learn the ins and outs of memorizing vocabulary with this course. See below for some English words with a long A sound that begin with A: