Pronunciation Confusion of American English Vowels

Pronunciation Confusion of American English Vowels
In my American English Pronunciation Software Program for Slavic speakers I teach how to pronounce vowels and consonants in their own categories so that each person can experience a great deal of practice for each sound.
As a practical shortcut I put together words and word pairs that people frequently ask me: “What is the difference between these two words? Because they sound the same to me!”
For example, if you mix up the vowels /I/ and /i/(pronounced “ee”) you will end up saying “sh*t” for “sheet” which, needless to say, will not go over well in a business meeting.


Here are a few other /I/ and /i/ pairs that people frequently mix up:
  • ship and sheep
  • kiss and keys
  • tin and teen
  • lid and lead


Additionally, Slavic speakers frequently mix up the /eh/ and /ae/ sounds as in “said” pronounced “sehd” – which sounds like they are saying “sad”.


The /o/ vowel is another big trouble maker. Even though a word is spelled with an “o”, in American English it is frequently pronounced like an “ah” as in the words: promise; office; process; doctor; money.


Other frequently confused words are:
  • lots and loads
  • font and fund
  • bum and bomb
  • lunch,  launch, and lounge

The “er” sound is also problematic because it can be spelled so many different ways, but is still pronounced as ‘er” – as in “shirt” not “short.”

The emphasis on words can also reduce intelligibility when speakers put the stress in the wrong place, such as with “located” (LO-ca-ted) and “contacted” (CON-tac-ted).

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