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.
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to learn how to pronounce the EE as in SHE vowel.
This vowel is common to many languages.
To make it, the jaw drops just a little bit. The tongue tip stays behind the bottom front teeth. The middle/front part of the tongue arches up towards the roof of the mouth, diminishing the space between the tongue and the roof of the mouth.
The corners of the lips pull a little wide, ee. They’re not quite relaxed.
Let’s see this sound up close and in slow motion.
A little jaw drop, tongue tip down and forward while the top front of the tongue arches towards the roof of the mouth. The corners of the lips pull out.
In the word ‘please’, the EE vowel is stressed. Same position.
When stressed, the vowel has the up-down shape of a stressed syllable: EE. When unstressed, it’s lower and flatter in pitch, quieter, and faster, ee. This is a very common ending unstressed vowel in American English because of all of the words that end in Y, like the word ‘busy’. Let’s see this word up close and in slow motion.
Jaw drops, top front of tongue arches up, and the corners of the lips pull out.
Let’s compare the stressed EE in ‘please’, on top, with the unstressed EE in ‘busy’, on the bottom. You can see the mouth position for the unstressed EE is a little more relaxed. The jaw doesn’t drop as much.
A more relaxed mouth position for the unstressed version of a vowel or diphthong is very common because they are shorter. So, there is less time to make the full mouth position.
Stressed EE: need, EE
Unstressed: busy, ee
EE, ee. EE, ee.
Example words. Repeat with me:
Keep, early, police, coffee, meet, each.
I hope this video helps you understand this sound. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.