Episode Transcript

Hi, it’s Hadar, and you’re watching the Accent’s Way, your way to finding clarity, confidence, and freedom in English. And today we’re going to talk about the vowel pair “bed – bad”, right, ‘eh’ -‘a’.

As you can hear, these are two different vowels, but they’re often pronounced the same by non-native speakers. So first let’s understand what the differences are between the two vowels.

So the first sound ‘eh’ is very close to a neutral ‘e’ sound that exists in many languages. ‘eh’ as in the words “red”, “bed”, “head”, “set”. The other vowel is a more open vowel, it’s a front vowel. The tongue is pushing forward as in the word “cat”, right. So it’s quite different: the quality of the sound is different, the mouth is really open for this one – ‘a’.

As you can see, the sides of the lips are pulling, right, the lips are pulling to the sides a little bit. The tongue is pushing forward, the front part of the tongue is flat. “happy”, right, it’s not the ‘hepi’, it’s not ‘haapi’ – “happy”. I’d say that phonetically speaking, this ‘a’ sound is somewhere between the ‘eh’ and ‘ah’, the neutral ‘eh’ and ‘ah’.

Okay. So, “cat”, again, “happy”, “that”, “bad”. Now, when we compare them, it’s really easy to see the shift between ‘eh’ and ‘a’, right, so you got to drop your jaw. Sometimes, we have a tendency of speaking really quickly and not opening our mouths, and therefore the ‘a’ sound may come across as ‘eh’, right. And then words like “bad”, “sat”, and “laughed” may sound like “bed”, “set”, and “left”. Alright? So that’s what we’re practicing now, this distinction: “left” – “laughed”, “head” – “had”, “set” – “sat”, “send” – “sand”, “bed” – “bad”.

All right, great job. So practice this distinction. Don’t forget to drop your job, pull the lips a little bit, making a front forward sound. And that’s it.

If you have any questions or insights about these two vowels, please shared with us below this video. If not, I will see you next week in the next video. Bye.