Phonics on the Web Diacritical Marks
Because there are more letter sounds than there are letters in the alphabet, dictinaries use diacritical marks to indicate which phoneme to give to a grapheme; that is, which sound to give to a letter unit. Although we do not typically use diacritical marks for consonant sounds, we do teach them for vowel sounds.
The most common diacritical marks are the long vowel mark ( ¯ ), called the macron; the short vowel mark ( ˘ ), called the breve, and the schwa mark ( ə ).
Long Vowel Mark
The long vowel mark placed over a vowel indicates that it will be pronounced just as it sounds when we recite the alphabet:
Short Vowel Mark
The short vowel mark placed over a vowel is as follows:
The schwa mark represents the indistinct vowel sound that is the unaccented or unstressed syllable of a multisyllabic word: