Tagged With: Comparison
These two vowels are two of the hardest for non-native speakers to distinguish. Feel confident in developing two clearly different vowel sounds.
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to compare the vowels EE and IH, as in ‘seat’ and ‘sit’. A good place to start when comparing sounds is to take a look at pictures.
Here’s a profile comparison of the two sounds. The sound on the left is the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ vowel, and the sound on the right the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’. Right away you can notice there’s a little bit more tension in the corner of the mouth for the ‘ee’ vowel. That’s because the corners of the lips pull back a little bit. The mouth position is more relaxed, more neutral for the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ vowel. Now with the parts of the mouth drawn in: roof of the mouth, soft palate, throat, teeth, and finally, in the darkest red, the tongue. The tongue positions are clearly very similar. In the ‘ee’ vowel, however, the tongue does lift even more towards the roof of the mouth. It’s just a little bit more relaxed in the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ vowel. One thing that can help students to relax their tongue a little bit more is to think of keeping the front part very wide. Sometimes that helps them to get a better ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ vowel. Also, it is hard to tell here, but the jaw does drop a little bit more for the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ vowel.
So you can see that for ‘ih’, the jaw drops a little bit more. If you’re not sure what else to do, just try that. Ih, ih. For the ‘ee’ sound, the tongue stretches up more, ee, ee, ee, about here, towards the roof of the mouth. Also, the corners of the lips may pull wide, ee, ee. Even if you can’t hear the difference, play around with this adjustment, moving back and forth. Solidify for yourself the physical differences in these two sounds.
And now some minimal pairs. It, eat. Rich, reach. Living, leaving. Fist, feast. Ship, sheep. Tick, teak. Lip, leap. Snicker, sneaker.
Good luck as you solidify for yourself the difference between these two vowel sounds. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
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Don’t stop there. Have fun with my real-life English videos. Or get more comfortable with the IPA in this play list. Learn about the online courses I offer, or check out my latest video.