What is Symbol For Long and Short Vowels? [Definition & Rules]

What is Symbol For Long and Short Vowels

In American English, there are 15 vowel sounds of a,e, i,o, and u. To utter vowel sound, the speaker mostly utilizes the open vocal tract. To make it easy these sounds are further divided into 3 main categories i.e, long vowel, short vowel, and other vowels.

Let me clear the biggest misconception that “long” and “short” vowels are by no means related to time. Short vowels sounds are spelled with a single letter while long vowel sounds are spelled with multiple letters.

What is a symbol for short and long vowels? The symbol of the long vowel is a ( − )  straight line called Macron. It is drawn right above the letter as ā ē, ī, ō. Similarly, the symbol of the short vowel is curved and cup shape drawn above the letter as ă,ĕ,ĭ,ŏ,ŭ. It is called breve.

The most imortant and beautiful sounds that we can make with our voice are indeed vowels. If you want to enhance the beauty more, you should learn the pronunciation of vowels properly.If there is no vowel in English, there would be no expression in this language. 

What are Long and Short Vowels

In English, vowel sounds are pronounced in two ways i.e, Long Vowel and Short Vowel. There are only 5 vowels A, E, I, O, and U in a total of 26 alphabets of English. Both Long and Short Vowels actually sound different from each other.

Long Vowel 

A long vowel is pronounced in the same way as you pronounce a letter. For example, Long A sounds the same as the letter A. SImilarly Long E sounds like the letter E. Now the question is how you can identify when and where to utter Long Vowel Sounds. There are two ways :

  1. Long vowel sounds mostly occur in words that end in “e”. For example bake, mute, cake, and make. Here you can hear “mute “ long U sounds. SImilarly in “bake” long A sound.
  2. The other way of making the lo( − )ng vowel sounds is to choose words with two vowel sounds consecutively. For example, Speed, Beat, Beat, Mail, and Beat. The vowel in Speed is pronounced as Long E. In Beat, it is also pronounced as Long E.
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Short Vowel 

The sound of the short vowel is different from the sound of the letter. For example Short A sound is different from the letter A. Similarly Short E sounds different from E. It is very easy to identify Short vowel sounds in words

Short Vowel “A” in “Apple” sounds “ah”

Short Vowel “E” in “Egg” sounds “eh”

Short Vowel “I” in “Insect” sounds “ih”

Short Vowel  “O” in Bog sounds “owe”

What are the  Symbol For Long and Short Vowels

Symbol of Long Vowel and Short Vowel 

The symbol of the Long vowel is a straight line – above the vowel. The symbol of the short vowel is a curved mark ( ˘ ) above the vowel. Both symbols indicate different sounds. The sound of a long vowel depends on the position of the vowel in the word and the impact of other letters’ sounds around it.

Short Vowel sounds mostly occur in one-syllable words. For example cat, bat ane mat. If the word after a short vowel is f, l, it would be double as staff, ball, etc.

What is the Symbol of a Long Vowel Called

The symbol of the long vowel ( ) is called Macron. It is pronounced as /mā-ˌkrän/.It is written above the vowel as,ā ē, ī, ō

Examples Of Long Vowel With Symbol  ( )

In a word “say’ “ay” sound is an example of Long Vowel ā

In  a word “bead” “ea” sound is an examples of Long Vowel ē

In a word “snow” “oh” sound is an example of a Long Vowel o

What is the Symbol of a Short Vowel Called

The symbol of the short vowel is curved ( ˘ ),  and it is called breve. It is derived from a Latin word that means “short” or “brief”.It is pronounced as breve and written above the vowel as ă,ĕ,ĭ,ŏ,ŭ

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Examples Of Short Vowel With Symbol  ( ˘ )

In the word “alligator”, a sound is an example of a short vowel ă

In the word “elf” e sound is an example of a short vowel ĕ

In the word “ink”, the I sound is an example of a short vowel ĭ

List Of Long Vowel and Short Vowel Sounds

With the same vowel, you may come across words with both short vowel sounds and long vowel sounds. To understand the difference check out the list below carefully:

Vowel: Aa

Long Vowel Sound:‘fat’, ‘map’, ‘hand’, ‘lamp’, ‘glass’

Short Vowel SOund:‘fate’, ‘pain’, ‘game’, ‘mail’, ‘whale’

Vowel: Ee

Long Vowel Sound:‘egg’, ‘red’, ‘nest’, ‘bell’, ‘smell’

Short Vowel Sound:‘ear’, ‘sea’, ‘heal’, ‘weak’, ‘three’

Vowel: Ii

Long Vowel Sound: ‘pig’, ‘rib’, ‘fist’, ‘milk’, ‘swim’

Short Vowel SOund:‘hide’, ‘tile’, ‘lime’, ‘wipe’, ‘prize

Vowel: Oo

Long Vowel Sound:‘fox’, ‘hop’, od’, ‘drop’, ‘pond’

Short Vowel Sound:‘road’, ‘goat’, ‘bone’, ‘note’, ‘roast’

Vowel: Uu

Long Vowel Sound: ‘bud’, ‘gun’, ‘hug’, ‘dump’, ‘puff’

Short Vowel Sound:‘rule’, ‘true’, ‘dune’, ‘flute’, ‘fruit

Rules For Long and Short Vowel

There are a few basic rules to learn how to pronounce and identify short and long vowel sounds. These rules are very effective for teaching phonetics to kindergarten kids. Let’s check out the easy rules.

#1-Rule: Vowel would always make a short sound when a word is mono-syllable and ends with a consonant. For example: ‘a’ in ‘jam’, ‘e’ in ‘west’, ‘o’ in ‘hot’, ‘i’ in ‘fish,“`’ and in ‘cup.

#2-Rule: Vowel would make a short vowel sound when a word has two vowels and is separated by two or more letters. For example: ‘a’ in apple and alligator,o in octopus, and so on.

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#3-Rule: Vowel will always make a long sound when a word ends with the letter ‘e’.For example, make, bake, cake, fake, and shake

#4-Rule: When a word has two vowels next to each other, the first vowels sound long while the second remains silent. For example in ‘tie’, beat’, and ‘rain’.

People Also Ask

What is The Symbol Above The ā Long Vowel Called?

The symbol above a is straight line which is known as Macron. It indicates a long vowel sound. If you see this symbol in phonetic transcription of any word try to pronounce the vowel sound as long a. This sound will be similar to the original sound of the letter a

What is the Symbol For The Short a?

In English pronunciation, the symbol for a short sound is indicated as curve-shaped mark. It is called breve. When you see this kind of symbol on a certain word, observe the sound of a would-be different from the original sound of the letter a. It would be like an “ah’ sound instead of a “a’” sound.


The first step to learning to spell in English is to know the sounds. In phonetics, both vowels and consonants have different symbols according to sounds. 

Vowels are confusing as they appear in different vowel-consonant and vowel-vowel pairs in words. If you learn to identify the symbol of long and short vowels you can improve your pronunciation. Happy learning!

James Randolph

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