What is a long vowel

Examples of Long Vowel Words

A long vowel is a vowel sound that is pronounced the same way as the name of the letter itself. For example, the long U sound is pronounced like "yoo," as would be the case in words like "lure" and "tube." By contrast, the short U sound is pronounced more like "uh," as in words like "cub" and "tub."

Long vowel words, then, are words that contain a long vowel sound. It's important to note that the spelling of a word and the way it sounds don't always match up so perfectly. Words like "few" and "beauty" also contain the long U sound. Similarly, the long A sound in "bake" and "gate" can also be spelled like "ay" (as in "pay") or "ai" (as in "paid"), among other variations.

To understand this further, let's look at some more examples of long vowel words.


Long Vowel Words Chart

Now that you understand long vowels, check out this Vowel Words chart to find vowels with each of the long vowel pronounciation sounds:

View & Download PDF

Long Vowel Words in Sentences

A great way to understand how long vowel words work is to see them in action in full sentences.


Long A Words

The long A sound is featured in the words in bold.

  • Can you bake me a cake?
  • There's no way I'm going to pay for that.
  • At this rate, they'll never come home.
  • Jenny does it for the fame and fortune.
  • Did you hear about the raid on the executive's office?

Long E Words

The long E sound is featured in the words in bold.

  • To be or not to be. That is the question.
  • Pete plans to see her again soon.
  • The gymnast excels on the high beam.
  • The behavior was deemed inappropriate by the ethics board.
  • That was quite the scene at the deli.

Long I Words

The long I sound is featured in the words in bold.

  • Sara and I are going to the movies.
  • The pine needles are everywhere!
  • You'll find the jam in the bread aisle.
  • Take a right turn at the next intersection.
  • Everything is going to be just fine.

Long O Words

The long O sound is featured in the words in bold.

  • The Lone Ranger is a famous fictional character.
  • The country road isn't paved.
  • Herbert was so excited, he started jumping up and down.
  • Can you fetch me a hoe from the garden shed?
  • The tow truck arrived just in time.

Long U Words

The long U sound is featured in the words in bold.

  • The rude waitress still hasn't taken our order.
  • Have you seen the Statue of Liberty?
  • The Duke and Duchess of York visited recently.
  • With a queue like that, we can expect a very long wait.
  • There he is, right on cue.

Read and Read

The English language is filled with all sorts of confusing words and even letters, like when "y" works as a vowel. The word "read" can rhyme with "fed" (short E sound), but it can also rhyme with "seed" (long E sound), depending on which verb tense you're trying to use with "read." As you continue to brush up on your knowledge of vowels and how they work, why not study words that end in a silent E? There are a lot of them! For something more creative, check out these assonance examples too.

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  • charts

Related Articles

  • Examples of Assonance in Poetry

    Assonance poems are abundant in literature. Much like alliteration repeats consonant sounds, assonance features repeated vowel sounds in words that are close to each other. But finding examples of assonance can be trickier than finding alliteration since the vowel sounds are often only heard when read aloud. Keep reading for examples of poetry with assonance that are pleasing to the ear.

  • Diphthong Examples

    “Diphthong” comes from the Greek word diphthongs. It literally means “having two sounds.” More specifically, diphthongs deal with vowels. Every vowel has its own short sound and long vowel sound. However, diphthongs come into play whenever a vowel makes a new and different sound, usually because it’s working in conjunction with another vowel.One of the best diphthong examples is the word “oil.” Here, we have two vowels working side by side and, together, they create a sound different than anything “O” or “I” alone can produce. And that’s just scratching the surface. Let’s take a closer look.

Long Vowel Sounds: Word Lists & Activities

Phonics | Spelling

ByDelilah Orpi

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In this post, I’m breaking down long vowel sounds (or long vowel words) to help you teach them when working with struggling readers and spellers.

Looking for long vowel word lists? Download all 5 of my pdf long vowel sounds word lists in my freebies library by joining my email list below.

What is a long vowel sound?

Long vowel sounds are vowels that are pronounced the same as their name. You’ll often hear teachers say that long vowels “say their name”.

Long vowels are very common but they can be tricky because there are so many spellings for each long vowel sound.

There are actually 4 ways to make long vowel sounds:

  1. Vowels at the end of a syllable make the long sound. For example, in the words me and halo (ha-lo) the vowels are all at the end of a syllable so they make the long sound.
  2. Silent e makes the previous vowel long. The words bike and phone have a silent e at the end that makes the previous vowel long.
  3. Vowel teams can make the long sound. Vowel teams work together to make one sound, and usually, it’s a long vowel sound. For example, boat and meat both have vowel teams that make the long sound.
  4. I or O can be long when they come before two consonants. In words like cold and mind, i and o make a long vowel sound.

Long Vowel Words

Long vowel sound words are words that have vowels that say their name. Below are a few examples:

  • Long a – baby, cake, rain, day, they, weigh
  • Long e – me, eve, hear, meet, piece, candy
  • Long i – silent, bike, light, my
  • Long o – go, home, toe, boat, snow
  • Long u – music, mule, pew, feud

Long A Sound

The long a sound can be represented by 8 different spelling patterns:

  1. a – baby
  2. a_e – cake
  3. ai – rain
  4. ay – play
  5. ei – reindeer
  6. eigh – weight
  7. ea – steak
  8. ey – they

Learn more about teaching the long a sound here, and check out my Long A Words Activities & Worksheets for printable activities.

Long E Sound

The long e sound can be represented by 8 different spelling patterns:

  1. e – be
  2. e_e – eve
  3. ee – meet
  4. ea – beach
  5. ei – protein
  6. ie – piece
  7. ey – key
  8. y – candy

For ideas, tips, and tricks when teaching the long e sound, read this post all about teaching the long e vowel sound, and check out my Long E Words Activities & Worksheets for printable activities.

Long I Sound

The long i sound can be represented by 6 different spelling patterns:

  1. i – silent
  2. i_e – shine
  3. ie – pie
  4. igh – light
  5. y – my
  6. y_e – type

You can learn more about teaching the long I sound in this post. And check out my Long I Worksheets set in my shop for printable activities on the long i sound.

Long O Sound

The long o sound can be represented by 5 different spelling patterns:

  1. o – go
  2. o_e – phone
  3. oe – toe
  4. oa – boat
  5. ow – snow

You can learn more about teaching long o words and check out my long o worksheets.

Long U Sound

The long u has two sounds: yoo (/y/ /oo/) and oo (/oo/).

The long u sound can be represented by 7 different spelling patterns:

  1. u – music
  2. u_e – mule
  3. ue – rescue
  4. eu – feud
  5. ew – few
  6. oo – food
  7. ou – soup

Learn more about teaching the long u sound here.

Tips for teaching the long vowel sounds

Teach one spelling pattern at a time!

I don’t mean one vowel sound, but just one spelling pattern. So for example, if you’re working on long a, you would work on the spelling pattern a silent e (cake, same, cave) until students have mastered it, then move on to ai, and so on. You should not be teaching multiple spelling patterns together, even though they make the same sound.

I know that most programs out there combine all the long vowel sound spelling patterns into one lesson, especially in spelling lists, but this does not work for struggling readers. You need to break it down for them and only do one at a time.

Teach the syllable types.

Because syllables have a lot to do with whether vowels make the short or long sound, if students do not already know the 6 syllable types then teach them along with the long vowel sound.

Here are resources for each syllable type:

  • closed syllable
  • open syllable
  • final silent e syllable
  • vowel team syllable
  • r combination syllable
  • consonant le syllable

Use a variety of activities to practice each spelling pattern.

Games, dictation, word sorts, memory or matching with flashcards, word hunts, textured writing, body spelling, and bingo are all fun ways to practice the long vowel sounds.

The main activity that is often overlooked is dictation. It seems so simple but the task involves listening to a word, deciding on the spelling, and transferring that info to written form. These are all skills that struggling readers need to practice.

Teach the spelling generalizations.

Some of the long vowel spelling patterns are spelling rules that make it easy to remember.

For example, ai is usually found at the beginning or middle of a syllable, and ay is usually found at the end of a syllable. [Examples: rain, aim, play, daytime]

Here is another example with long o: oa is usually found at the beginning or middle of a word, and ow is usually found at the end. [Examples: boat, coach, snow]

Long Vowel Word List

I made these word lists to help teach the long vowels. I find it handy to have these on hand when playing phonics games or planning activities for long vowel lessons.

Grab them for free below!

Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers shop to see all my literacy products.

Want to remember this? Save Long Vowel Sounds: Word Lists & Activities to your favorite Pinterest board!

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Delilah Orpi

Delilah Orpi is the owner and founder of Thrive Literacy Corner. She has a Bachelor's degree in Special Education, a Master's degree in TESOL, and is a member of the International Dyslexia Association. She is an experienced educator and literacy specialist trained in Orton Gillingham and Lindamood Bell. Delilah creates literacy resources for educators and parents and writes to create awareness about dyslexia and effective literacy instruction based on the science of reading.

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Long and short vowels in English

Longitude is one of the characteristics of a vowel sound, which shows the relative duration of its sound compared to other sounds.

Longitude can be positional and phonemic. In the first case, the duration of the vowel depends on the position in the word and stress, while this characteristic does not affect the meaning. The phonemic length of a vowel has a semantic function, that is, depending on the length of the sound, the meaning of the word changes.

Length of vowel sounds in English

In Russian, the length of vowel sounds does not affect the meaning of words and changes only depending on stress. In English, vowels differ not only in positional but also in phonemic length. This means that long and short sounds, similar in other characteristics, represent different phonemes. Words that differ only in these phonemes have different meanings: ship - sheep , fit - feet , pull - pool . Therefore, it is so important to pronounce long and short sounds correctly.

In transcription, long vowels are indicated with a colon: [i:], [α:], [ɔ:], [u:], [ә:]. In some cases, long vowels in an unstressed position are reduced and become semi-long, which in transcription is indicated by one dot from above: [α ].

The long vowels listed above are opposed to short vowels, forming the following pairs in English:

  • [i:] - [ı]
  • [uː] - [u]
  • [ɔ:] - [ɒ]
  • [α:] - [ʌ]
  • [ә:] - [ə]

The pronunciation of long and short English vowels often causes difficulties for Russian learners of English, since in Russian vowels do not have phonemic longitude, and we are not used to distinguishing the length of a vowel sound by ear. We often do not hear the difference between long and short vowels when listening to English speech. It is still not clear how long you need to draw a sound when speaking, so very unnatural, or almost inaudible, or too long vowels are obtained. It is impossible to correctly pronounce short and long sounds so that a native speaker hears the difference, even if you diligently shorten short vowels and stretch out long ones.

Sometimes it seems that native speakers themselves do not know the difference between short and long sounds, they seem to pronounce them the same way - but they themselves understand each other. But it is not. Let's see what are the differences between long and short English vowels, how to learn to hear them and how to train their pronunciation.

Differences between long and short English sounds

It is logical to assume that if vowels are called long or short, they differ in sound length. This is the main difference between them, but not the only one. It is important to understand that long and short sounds have other differences, which consist in articulatory features. This means that the sounds are not just of different lengths, they are also different in sound. And most often it is these articulatory features that determine the length of the vowel sound: the duration of the sound depends on the position of the tongue and the tension of the vocal apparatus.

Long and short English vowels differ in such a characteristic as tension. Long vowels are tense, in English they are also called tense . When they are pronounced, the root of the tongue seems to be tense, under tension. The sound is pronounced, bright, rich, clear.

Short vowels are called lax – relaxed. The tongue in the region of the root is relaxed, the vowel sound is articulated quickly, easily, without additional effort, as if bursting. It turns out short, inconspicuous, faded and fuzzy.

Qualitative differences in sounds in different pairs of English vowels range from pronounced to almost imperceptible. It is easy to notice the difference between long and short sounds a: pay attention to how the words cart and cut are pronounced, they differ not only in duration, but also in sound. But the differences between long and short u are almost imperceptible: pool and pull sound very similar, only slightly different in length. The Scots generally pronounce them the same way, differing only in context.

In addition, the duration of the pronunciation of vowels is also affected by positional longitude - for example, stressed or unstressed position in a word. As a result, a short vowel sound in one word may sound longer than a long sound in another word.

Thus, it is not enough to rely only on the subjective duration of a vowel sound. All the features of short and long vowels described above must be taken into account when learning English. It remains to understand how to master the pronunciation of long and short sounds in practice.

How to learn to pronounce long and short English vowels

The main mistake foreigners make when pronouncing long and short English sounds is focusing only on duration. But with this approach, it is intuitively incomprehensible where the boundary between a long and a short sound passes: you can’t measure the length of a sound with a stopwatch. When trying to artificially lengthen or shorten a vowel, the sounds are unnaturally short or drawn out.

To learn how to pronounce long and short English sounds, you need to forget about the usual terminology "long" and "short". Try not to think about the duration of the sound at all. To correctly pronounce long and short vowels, you need to focus on their articulation, and not on duration. If we correctly reproduce the pronunciation of the vowel, then the duration will turn out to be correct automatically. Remember that long vowels require more tension at the root of the tongue, while short ones are pronounced without additional effort, easily and without tension.

Pay attention to how native speakers pronounce vowels - don't watch how long they draw them out, but watch the pronunciation, the articulation, the quality of the sound. Repeat, imitate, practice. For practice, it is best to use video lessons or a conversation with a native speaker, since audio materials do not make it possible to see articulation.

It is best to train long and short sounds not separately, but as part of words. First, this way you will note the influence of positional longitude on the duration of the sound in specific examples. Secondly, just as words are best learned in context, sounds are also best learned in the environment.

Practice pronunciation of long and short vowels in pairs of words to notice the difference between sounds, for example:

  • Sport – hot
  • Arm-cut
  • See-hit
  • Food-put
  • Fur – ago

When you learn how to pronounce long and short vowels correctly in English, it will become easy to distinguish between them in speech. When listening to speech, forget about the differences in duration, pay attention to the qualitative differences in sounds - how intensely the vowel is pronounced, how bright or faded it sounds, how pairs of sounds differ from each other, except for duration.

Long and short vowels in German: long and short sounds

Photo: suju / pixabay.com

So, voiceless and voiced consonants can form pairs. What about vowels? Of course, vowels cannot be voiceless or voiced, but they can be pronounced long or short and form pairs in longitude. Let's see how it works in German!

What are long and short vowels for?

In modern Russian and most Slavic languages, all vowels are pronounced short, and their lengthening may seem strange or even funny to us (for example, in Finnish or Estonian).

Long and short vowels are common in German and English. Their sound is not as noticeable as in the languages ​​​​from the example above, but it is extremely important in conversation and perception of oral speech. The thing is that two words that are completely different in meaning can differ in a single, long or briefly pronounced letter.

For example:

Long and short vowels in German: basic rules

There are a whole bunch of rules on this topic that have one thing in common: it seems incredible to fit them in your head and apply them. Let's try to figure it out so that you remember most of it the first time!

Long and short vowels in stressed and unstressed syllables

Stress/unstress can be used as a basic rule for determining vowel length. Stressed vowels are usually long, unstressed - short. This dependency seems perfect! In fact both long and short vowels can be stressed or unstressed. When determining the length of a vowel, not only the stress is important, but also the openness/closedness of the syllable.

Long and short vowels in open and closed syllables

Depending on what letter the syllable ends with, it can be classified into one of three categories:

  1. Open - end in a vowel (Ma | ma, Pa | pa)
  2. open" when changing the form of the word, for example in the plural (Bal | kon - Bal | ko | ne)
  3. Closed - end in a consonant (Klas | se, Mund)

Vowels in open and conditionally closed syllables are usually long . In closed - short. To summarize:

  • Stressed vowels in open and closed syllables are long, and unstressed vowels are short.
  • Vowels in closed syllables, regardless of stress, are short.

Long vowels in German: when?

In order not to bother with special cases, let's take the rules with the "maximum guarantee". German vowels are always pronounced long:

  1. When they are doubled: -aa-, -ee-, -oo- (-uu- and -ii- are rare, usually in compound words, double umlauts do not occur at all)
  2. Before “mute “H” (such an “H” is not pronounced, but only gives a long vowel)
  3. Before ß
  4. In letter combinations -ie-, -ieh-
  5. In monosyllabic, invariable words ending in “R”
  6. Stressed open syllable
  7. Stressed closed syllable

Good news! 4 rules out of 7 are easy to recognize in the text, and the rest after a little training will begin to be used intuitively.

Let's look at examples of how and when long German vowels are pronounced. In the table below, for each word, two Russian transcriptions will be given: correct and incorrect. Having said both, you can in practice compare the sound of words and feel in what situations a long vowel occurs.

Short vowels in German: when?

Long vowels are clear, let's move on to short ones. There are only three basic rules at work here. German vowels are read briefly:

  1. In a closed syllable
  2. If they are followed by two or more consonants (that is, before letter combinations like -ch-, -sch-, -ck-, doubled and any other consonants that follow each other after another)
  3. Before the letter “X” - [x] (since “X” is read as [ks], formally this rule can be attributed to the previous one)

Consider short vowels with examples. As in the previous table, each word has one correct and one incorrect transcription.

Long and short vowels in monosyllabic words - a controversial case

In addition to monosyllabic words ending in "R" (with long vowels), there are many other short words in German in which only one consonant follows a vowel. It can be articles, adjectives, nouns and other parts of speech. For example: dem, gut, Lid, Typ.

On the one hand, these are closed syllables, which means that the vowels in them are short. But it's not! There is no need to memorize anything here, you just need to understand that in such words both short and long vowel sounds can occur.

How to pronounce long and short vowels?

There is no secret here! Long vowels are pronounced longer than short vowels. That's why "you're not speaking correctly because my [a:] is longer than yours" doesn't work here.😎

The pronunciation of long and short vowels depends entirely on the speech apparatus, accent, dialect used, and other little things. Someone likes to "pull" sounds and even short letters sound like long ones. Someone pronounces short vowels so abruptly that long vowels sound like ordinary ones.

In general, as you like. The most important thing is that the difference between long and short sounds can be heard in speech.

Learn more