Long and Short Vowel Differences and Examples

The English language has five vowels. It is a, e, I, o, and u. These vowels can represent numerous sounds. 

A vowel's position within a word and how that word is pronounced can affect both its length and sound. Based on their length, vowels can be divided into long and short vowels. 

The main distinction between long and short vowels is that the first has a lengthy sound, while the latter has a short sound.

Long Vowels

The sound of a long vowel is lengthy. A long vowel has a sound similar to the vowel's name. For instance, the letter "a" in the word "aim" is pronounced as "ayy," or /. The English language uses five long vowel sounds:

  • ‘a’ as in name
  • ‘e’ as in eating
  • ‘i’ as in wine
  • ‘o’ as in going
  • ‘u’ as in human

Given below are some words that contain long vowel sounds.

  • A: ape, lake, name, date, rain
  • E: deep, heed, eat, feet, feel
  • I: wine, bite, hide, kite, ice,
  • O: oak, boat, long, soak, hope
  • U: mule, fuse, unite, cube

Short Vowels

Long vowels make a long syllable, whereas short vowels produce a short vowel sound. A short vowel sound results when a consonant follows a vowel in a syllable. 

A closed syllable is a name given to this kind of syllable. Therefore, closed syllables are the cause of short vowels. Short vowels don't have a sound close to their name, unlike long vowels. The following are the English language's five short vowel sounds:

  • ‘a’ as in fat
  • ‘e’ as in nest
  • ‘i’ as in win
  • ‘o’ as in cot
  • ‘u’ as in cup

Given below are some words that contain short vowel sounds.

  • A: cat, at, hat, mat, axe, apple, sack
  • E: set, edge, deck, head, bed, echo
  • I: bird, panic, pig, tin, bit, hid, ginger
  • O: hop, sock, ostrich, mop, mock
  • U: mud, fuss, blunder, up, ugly, under

Long and Short Vowels: Comparison Table

Here is a comparison table to note the key differences between Long and Short vowels following different parameters:

Parameters of Comparison

Long Vowels

Short Vowels

Duration of sound

Long vowel sounds are common with long vowels.

Vowels with short vowels make short, quick sounds.


Long vowels can be detected in open syllables.

Closed syllables identify short vowels.


The sound of long vowels is similar to their name.

Pronunciations with a few vowels are usually brief and may not sound like their names.

Position of vowel

A long vowel will be present when there are two vowels in between consonants or when the final consonant ends in an "E."

A short vowel is made up of just one vowel and two consonants.

Movement of mouth

The speaker shifts their mouth from a closed to an open position to pronounce long vowels or the other way around.

Short vowels can be pronounced without moving the jaws in any particular direction.

Long Vowel Vs. Short Vowels

Long vowels are typically seen in words with two consecutive vowels between the consonants or in open syllables that terminate in a vowel.

When two separate vowels are used in a word consecutively, the first vowel's sound is more audible than the second. For example, in the word "BOAT," the vowel "O" sound is loud.

Compared to short vowels, long vowels feature more complex writing patterns. Furthermore, there are numerous spelling variations for long vowels.

In words like bake, lone, etc., the vowel 'E' at the end is silent but produces a long vowel sound.

Most long vowel sounds are diphthongs, which implies the long sound is created by combining two short vowels. As a result, the sound made by long vowels is precisely the same as the genuine or original letter sound.

Short vowels are those that, when pronounced, have a brief or rapid sound. Short vowels sound precisely like the consonant used before them and are not pronounced similarly to their names.

For instance: I in Sit, E in Beg, I in Bat, O in Fog, and U in Cup.

Short vowels just have one sound. Therefore, you can pronounce them simply by relaxing your jaw. However, additional stress may be needed when speaking some short vowels, such as in stressed syllables.

While in some situations, such as "tomato," the first "O" requires less stress due to competition than the last "O".

Short vowels have a complicated spelling pattern, with several exceptions, much like long vowels. Short vowels are most frequently found in closed syllables, in between two consonants.

Short vowels like "up," "end," etc. occasionally appear alone at the beginning of words.

Short vowels should be pronounced according to a few rules. The most widely used rules are the one vowel, two vowel, and two consonant ones. Short vowels are straightforward to distinguish and pronounce due to the aforementioned limits.

Main Differences between Long and Short Vowels

  • The length of the vowel sound can determine the main Differences between Long and Short Vowels Long and Short. Similar to its name, a long vowel makes a long sound, whereas a short vowel makes a fast sound.
  • The open syllables have a long vowel sound at the end of the vowel. A closed syllable, on the other hand, finishes with a consonant and produces a short vowel sound.
  • Long vowels are pronounced as their names are pronounced.
  • On the other hand, short vowels are not pronounced similarly to their designation.
  • Vowels are classified according to where they occur; for example, two vowels between consonants or vowels at the end of a consonant are long. On the other hand, short vowels are typically found between two consonants, as in consonant-vowel-consonant.
  • It's essential to use your mouth and tongue when pronouncing words. The tongue is moved into various locations, and the speaker's mouth is moved from closed to open or vice versa when pronouncing lengthy vowels. The jaws are loosened for short vowels, while the tongue may also be relaxed or shift to various locations.

Five vowels make up the English alphabet, but long and short vowels are distinguished by their place and pronunciation. 

Therefore, identifying the type of vowel used in the word will be made more accessible by having a basic understanding of these two groups. 

Seat and sit cannot be pronounced identically by a speaker since the first word has long vowels and the second word has short vowels. 

Therefore, it's crucial to understand when and when to utilize long and short vowels because they significantly impact pronunciation. To use long and short vowels correctly, review the guidelines and exceptions.

How to determine whether an English vowel is long or short 

Although you may identify words that employ long or short vowels using the guidelines above, there are many exceptions to these norms in English. Therefore, we advise you to look up the word in a dictionary if you're unsure whether to pronounce a vowel as short or long. A pronunciation guide utilizing the International Phonetic Alphabet should be provided for each word (IPA). The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is used to aid in word pronunciation in all languages, including English.

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