Long Vowel Sound Rules

by Ron Augustine

The long vowels make the same sounds in a word as they do when pronounced alone. Each vowel has a few unique rules, but generally, they all make a long sound when they are the last letter of a word (examples: she, go; exceptions: to, bite). And if a word has two vowels next to each other, the first vowel usually is pronounced long (examples: sail, bean, soap, juice).

"A"

If the "a" is followed by a "y," it makes the long vowel sound (examples: play, Sunday). If the "a" is followed by one consonant, followed by an "e," it makes a long vowel sound (examples: fate, dare).

"E"

If the letter "e" is paired with another "e," it will make the long vowel sound (examples: sweet, beef). If the "e" is followed by one consonant, followed by another vowel, it makes a long vowel sound (example: evil, deplete), but the "e" will not typically be long if there are two or more consonants between the "e" and the other vowel (examples: end, elder, enter). If an "e" is the last letter of a word, it is usually silent, but it also signifies that the vowels that came before have a long sound (examples: note, pride, derive, state).

"I"

If the "i" in a single-syllable word is followed by two consonants, it will usually have the long vowel sound (examples: bright, mind, child). Exceptions are when single-syllable words are plural or contain a "th" or "sh" at the end (examples: fifth, clips, fish, girth). The "i" has a long vowel sound if the last letter in the word is an "e" (examples: bite, mine, slide).

"O"

If the "o" in a single-syllable word is followed by two consonants, it will have the long vowel sound (examples: old, most, roll). Exceptions are when single-syllable words are plural or contain a "th" or "sh" at the end (examples: moth, posh). The "o" has a long vowel sound if the last letter in the word is an "e" (examples: mole, rope).

"U"

A "u" long sound doesn't sound exactly the same in a word as it does when pronouncing the letter by itself. When pronouncing the letter by itself, it is "yoo" but as a letter in a word it simply makes an "oo" sound (examples: costume, salute). The "u" makes a long sound when it is followed by an "e" (examples: cue, blue, flute).

About the Author

Ron Augustine is a rookie freelance writer and producer who has worked primarily in radio and print media for Chicago Public Radio's Sound Opinions, Relevant Magazine, WMBI Chicago and the Burnside Writers Collective. He graduated Moody College in 2007 with a degree in Communications.