The Letter E

In this American English pronunciation video we’re going to take a look at how this letter is pronounced.

I often get emails from people asking questions like, ‘Why is the CH in CHICAGO pronounced differently than the CH in CHOICE?’ SH vs. CH. And my answer is always, unfortunately, the sounds of American English do not correspond one-to-one with the letters of the alphabet. To know for sure how a word is pronounced, you need to either hear a native speaker say the word, or look up the word in a dictionary that has the International Phonetic Alphabet transcription.

Let’s take a look at the letter E. In the word ‘shed’, it is the EH, EH vowel. In the word ‘be’, it is the ee, ee vowel. In the word ‘pretty’, it’s the IH vowel, IH, pretty. In the word ‘anthem’, it is the schwa, uh, uh, anthem. In the word ‘sergeant’, it’s the AH vowel. Sah, sergeant. In the word ‘cafe’, it is the AY diphthong. Cafe.

So when you see this letter in a word, you can’t make assumptions about how it is pronounced. Look it up in a dictionary, or have native speaker say the word to you.

That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English. 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.

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