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. Sample words: Allow, extra, data, again, visa, about.
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to learn how to pronounce the schwa vowel sound.
This vowel is always unstressed. The mouth position is a lot like the UH as in BUTTER vowel, but that vowel can be and usually is stressed. But just like that vowel, everything in your lips, jaw, and neck should be relaxed for this sound.
Just slightly drop your jaw to make this sound. The trick is to keep everything else relaxed.
Let’s look at the vowel up close and in slow motion.
It’s possible to make this sound on its own with just the slightest jaw drop. But in actual words, you will likely see a bit more jaw drop, like here, on the word ‘sofa’. Lips relaxed, cheeks relaxed, tongue forward and relaxed.
As I said, this vowel can only be in an unstressed syllable. All other vowel and diphthong sounds can either be stressed or unstressed. So the schwa will always be really fast and low in pitch. Uh, uh. Sofa, uh. Ability, uh.
The schwa goes with the syllabic consonants L, M, N, and R. That means when you have a syllable with a schwa followed by one of these consonants, you don’t need to make the schwa. It gets absorbed by the next sound. For example, the word ‘father’: th-rr, th-rr. Just go from the TH sound right into the R sound without trying to make a separate schwa. Father, -ther.
The schwa: always unstressed. Uh, sofa, uh, uh, ability, uh.
Example words. Repeat with me:
Allow, extra, data, again, visa, about.
I hope this video helps you understand this sound. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.