Phonics on the Web > Short Vowels

Short Vowels

When a vowel is followed by a consonant, the vowel is short. The diacritical mark for a short vowel is called a breve (˘), which is in the shape of a downturned arc.

A vowel is usually short when there is only one vowel in a word or syllable, as in cat, bed, and hot. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as with irregular vowels.

There is both a long and short sound to “oo”. The short sound appears as in the words book, booth, and took.

The following is a list of short vowel sounds, shown along with their diacritical marks:

  • Short a (ă) sound as in at, taxi, anniversary, laboratory, and tackle
  • Short e (ĕ) sound as in elm, elevator, jellyfish, pentagon, and dentist
  • Short i (ĭ) sound as in it, gift, inflate, spinach, and cereal
  • Short o (ŏ) sound as in hop, camouflage, garage, chop, father, paw, and binoculars
  • Short u (ŭ) sound as in up, cut and subtract

For a complete list of long, short, and other sounds, see letter sounds.

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