How to Pronounce the EH /ɛ/ Vowel

5/25/2020

(Video Transcript)

 

The EH vowel is in the words red, head, and bed. EH. This vowel is a lax vowel, which means there is less muscular tension when you say this sound. Put your hand under your chin and say EH. Now say a tense vowel, like AY. You should feel less muscular effort with EH than you did with AY. 

 

EH.

 

How to Make the EH Vowel

To make this vowel, the jaw drops, and the tongue is forward. The tongue tip is behind the bottom front teeth. The middle of the tongue arches up towards the roof of the mouth, and the back of the tongue stretches into a wide shape. 

 

Let’s take a look at the vowel EH.

 

The jaw drops and the tongue is forward in the mouth. The tongue tip is behind the bottom front teeth, and the back of the tongue is wide.

 

Stressed EH Vowel

When EH is in a stressed syllable, the pitch of the voice glides up and then down. EH. EH is stressed in the word red. Red. EH. Here’s what EH looks like in the word red.

 

When EH is in a stressed syllable, the jaw is open, and the tongue is forward in the mouth. The tongue tip is down, behind the bottom front teeth. The middle part of the tongue is arched up towards the roof of the mouth. 

 

Unstressed EH Vowel vs. Stressed EH Vowel

In an unstressed syllable, the EH vowel is said at a lower pitch and volume, and it is said faster. EH. Here is what the vowel EH looks like in the word girlfriend.

 

On the left is the EH vowel in a stressed syllable, like in the word red, and the right is the EH vowel in an unstressed syllable, like in the word girlfriend. Notice the difference in the jaw opening between the stressed and unstressed positions. When EH is in a stressed syllable, the jaw opens more. But when EH is in an unstressed syllable, the jaw opens less. There is also a slight difference in the lip position. In the stressed EH, the lips are pulled back more than for the unstressed EH.

 

This is typical in American English. When vowels are in a stressed syllable, native speakers will pronounce the vowel with the full mouth position. But when vowels are unstressed, native speakers will reduce or simplify the pronunciation so that they can say the syllable faster and quicker. 

 

Stressed EH. Red. EH.

 

Unstressed EH. Girlfriend. EH.

 

Practice Words and Sentences: EH Vowel

Here are some practice words and sentences.

 

Head. EH. Head.

She is the head of the company.



Rent. EH. Rent.

My rent is due at the beginning of the month.



Emperor. EH. Emperor.

I learned about emperors in school.



Help. EH. Help.

Would you help me, please?



Empire. EH. Empire.

The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite movie.



Sell. EH. Sell.

I will sell you the tickets for fifty bucks.

 


Thanks so much for watching! And let me know how I can help you with pronunciation of the EH vowel!

 



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