Schwa – the BEST vowel sound in English

schwa vowel sound
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The schwa is the most neutral vowel sound in English. In order to produce it, simply relax your jaw, lips, and tongue, and release a very short ‘uh’ sound. If you’re not sure what ‘uh’ sounds like, try to insert a sound between K-G. Most likely the sound between the K and G will be the schwa.

What makes it tricky?

The schwa doesn’t have a usual spelling pattern and can be represented by any vowel letter (or even combination of letters).

Here are some words with schwa sound:

  • About
  • Melody
  • Holiday
  • Focus
  • Manager
How to identify it?

But just because the schwa is represented by different letters, this doesn’t mean it’s completely erratic. It's a reduced vowel and it's made only in unstressed syllables in words with two syllables or more (although not all multi-syllable words use a schwa).

Why is it important?

Not producing the schwa doesn’t necessarily mean you will not be understood. However, using the schwa will definitely help:

1. Your listening comprehension: Native speakers use it all the time. It’s the most common vowel sound in English.

2. Your pronunciation of long words: You’ll invest less energy in confusing long words if you use the schwa in some unstressed syllables.

3. The delivery of your message: Less important words (usually, function words) are reduced and therefore contain a schwa sound rather than a pure vowel sound.

4. Your speech and rhythm: You will sound more natural.

Watch the video to get the full picture and understand when and how to use this sound.

What words with the schwa sound do you tend to mispronounce? Can you think of at least three words with a schwa sound in them? Let me know in the comments below.

Want to know more about this sound? Check out the podcast episode and this LIVE Lesson.

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10 Comments on “Schwa – the BEST vowel sound in English”

  1. Thank you so much. I was sick during April and May and I totally forget about the lessons. Thank you again for sending me the SCHWA sound which it’s very difficult for Spanish speakers to hear and pronounce.

  2. It was lovely to watch your video. I have learned a lot. All I need is to practice them every day.

    thanks so much.

    Cora

  3. As usual on Videos “Made by Hadar” everything is superb, entertaining and precise. Thank you for it !

  4. Thank you, Hadar for these lessons, especially the ones on the Choi. I am a native speaker of English and a volunteer teacher of ESL. I never fully understood or appreciated the Choi before and certainly not how important it really is for American English. I will definitely apply this to my class.

    Verne Walsh

  5. Thanks for beautifully presented lesson on the ‘Schwa’ sound. Very helpful.

    Thank you so much.

    Md Golam Mostofa

  6. Thank you so much . I really need practice it. I have people around me who speak using the schwa.
    Campus-kem- ps
    Possibility- pe-se-belety
    Procedure-Pr-ci-jur . This is my headache.
    Thank you
    Perfect

    1. Thank you for this excellent class. You explained it so clearly that makes me feel that it’s possible to pronounce better.
      This is the first one I saw. And I will watch all of them.
      Thank you again 💓
      Silvia

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