English has eleven different vowels. It’s important to know the correct mouth position so you can get the vowel right: study this vowel with illustrations and up close, slow motion speech. Which, instead, begin, divorce, busy, print.
YouTube blocked? Click here to see the video.
In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to go over how to pronounce the IH as in SIT vowel.
This vowel can be a challenge for non-native speakers. The tendency is to replace it with the EE vowel. But for the IH vowel, the jaw drops more, so the tongue isn’t as close to the roof of the mouth. Let’s study the mouth position.
There’s a relaxed jaw drop. The tip of the tongue stays forward, lightly touching the back of the bottom front teeth. The top, front part of the tongue arches up towards the roof of the mouth.
Let’s see this vowel up close and in slow motion.
Relaxed jaw drop. Tongue tip forward. Top, front part of the tongue arches up towards the roof of the mouth. This vowel is stressed in the word ‘fix’. Same mouth position.
When this vowel is in a stressed word or syllable, like ‘fix’, it has an up-down shape, IH, fix, IH. When it’s in an unstressed syllable, it will be flatter and lower in pitch, quieter: ih, ih. It’s unstressed in the word ‘office’, ih. Let’s take a look.
The mouth position is the same, but a little more relaxed.
Let’s compare the stressed IH in ‘fix’, on the top, to the unstressed IH in ‘office’. Notice that the jaw is more dropped for the stressed syllable. For the unstressed IH, the jaw is less dropped.
This is typical. Unstressed vowels are shorter, so there isn’t as much time to make the full mouth position.
Stressed IH: fix, IH
Unstressed IH: office, ih
IH, ih, IH, ih
Example words. Repeat with me:
Which, instead, begin, divorce, busy, print.
I hope this video helps you understand this sound. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.