This vowel sound is the name of the letter E, and usually the letter E is part of the vowel.
The vowel in “leave” is made with the mouth almost closed and the tip of the tongue almost touching or slightly touching the back of the bottom front teeth, and the middle of the tongue lightly touching the roof of the mouth.
This sound is represented several ways in written English:
ee, for example feed, bleed, and green
ea, for example peach, leap, and meat
ie, for example thief, brief, and berries
y, at the end of a word, for example many, berry, tiny, salty, family, and rainy.
Note, the letter I by itself rarely makes the vowel in ‘leave.’ Click here to read more about the letter I
Here’s my book of pronunciation exercises. Most of the exercises use minimal pairs to help you hear and say the sounds of American English. I use this book when teaching English lessons:
Jonathan’s Pronunciation Exercises
Click here if you’re interested in taking English lessons to improve your pronunciation or fluency.
Usually the letter I makes the vowel sounds in pin or pine. Only rarely does the letter I make another sound; the vowel sound in the words eat and feet; the name of the letter E. That is also an important sound, click here to read about it.
Your tongue should be low in your mouth when saying the vowel sounds in pin or pine. If your tongue is touching your upper teeth or the roof of your mouth, lower the back of your tongue, so that it’s not touching anything. Listen to how the sound changes when you move your tongue. Now you’ll be making a sound that is probably close to the vowel in the word pin. To make this vowel sound, your mouth should be almost closed, and relaxed. The tip of the tongue should be touching or almost touching the back of the lower front teeth.
Here are some more words with the same vowel sound:
Here are some words with the other vowel sound that the letter I makes:
Notice none of the words in the first list have a vowel, for example an E, at the end of the word. However, many in the second list do end in E. The ones that don’t end in E contain a silent GH. (There are exceptions to these patterns.)
You can take lessons with me over Skype to improve your pronunciation or fluency.
I teach intermediate and advanced speakers of English. Lessons are 55 minutes.
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