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Avoid Bad Words…Even mistakes!

Have you confused the words “beach” and “bitch” and “sheet” and “shit?” That can be embarrassing!

OK, here’s how to fix the error:

First, don’t just assume that the first vowel is longer and the second one is shorter. It sometimes sounds that way, but technically that’s not the main difference. The phonetic symbol for the vowel of “beach” is /i/. This sound is considered a tense vowel. For “bitch it’s /I/ and it’s considered a lax or neutral vowel. For the tense vowel, your tongue is tense and raised up. It helps to also tense your lips and smile a bit when you say it. For the relaxed vowel, the tongue is completely relaxed and the lips are completely relaxed.

The spelling of the word will tell you if the vowel is tense or lax. Generally words spelled with “ee” and “ea” as in “feel” and “weak” have the tense vowel. In contrast, words spelled with “i” have the lax vowel. Compare these sounds and make sure that you don’t pronounce these words the same:

/i/ /I/
feel – fill
steal – still
green – grin
meat – mit
seen – sin

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2 comments

  1. Good Tip
    Could have been more understandable if the toungue movement presented graphically .

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