Pronunciation of vowels in English. Diphthong and flat sounds.

Learners find a lot of trouble to pronounce new words in English. There are few consistent rules and a lot of  exception. However, there are certain patterns that can help you get your pronunciation right in most cases. The following rule will help you to figure out how to read vowels in new words you still don't know.

Reading vowels: Diphthong and flat sounds.


Vowels are often read like diphthongs, the same way they are spelt in the alphabet, like for instance these words: make for A, these for E, like for I, phone for O, music for U.

Otherwise, they are read like flat sounds, the same way they are read in man for A, get for E, did for I, not for O, but for U.

Below there is a list of words split by syllables. You will see how vowels at the end of syllables are read like diphthongs, whereas the rest are read like flat sounds.

Dipthong A: pla-ce, ca-se, ma-ke, ta-ke, sa-me, la-ter, pa-per, pla-te, ta-ble, Sta-tes
Flat A: and, back, can, had, that, man, hand, fact, ask, last, af-ter, mat-ter, as-sist, at-tach, ban-ner, man-ner, af-ford, ad-dress, ad-dittion

Dipthong E:  re-ceive, be-fore, le-gal, the-se, re-port, se-rious, de-pend, re-pair, be-cause
Flat E: get, her, tell, then, well, when, yes, next, less, yet, get-ting, hel-lo, bel-ly, let-ter, mes-sage, bet-ter, ef-fect, sel-ler, yel-low

Dipthong I: li-ke, ti-me, li-fe, ni-ce,  fi-ne, qui-te, kni-fe, I-reland, Chi-na, ti-ger
Flat I: did, him, his, think, this, will, with, thing, big, still, lit-tle, dif-ferent, sin-ce, kil-ler, win-ner, mir-ror, big-ger, bit-ter, vil-lage, din-ner

Dipthong O: o-ver, tho-se, ho-tel, ho-me, pho-ne, so-cial, no-tice, Ro-me, jo-ke, ho-pe
Flat O: from, got, not, long, front, wrong, lot, job, boss, shop, on-ly, of-fice, bot-tle, cof-fee, col-lege, hos-tel, poc-ket, hot-ter,  Tom-my, com-pany

Dipthong U: u-se, stu-dent, mu-sic, U-nited, ru-les, hu-man, mu-te, cu-te, ru-de, U-niversity
Flat U: but,  just, cup, much, must, stuff, lunch, cut, luck, duck, un-der, Dub-lin, bub-ble, but-ter, cur-ry, sum-mer, sub-ject, num-ber, Rus-sia

Although there are exceptions to this pattern, it is still very consistent. It's the best way to figure out how to read vowels a word you don't know, therefore I would recommend that you practice until you master it.