We have seen that the vowels can either have the long vowel sound or the short vowel sound, but there is another very common vowel sound any of the vowels can have, and this is called the neutral vowel sound. it also has another name, SCHWA. This is the sound of the A in Away.
We will be looking at why this sound is used in the section under STRESSED and UNSTRESSED SYLLABLES, but this is an extremely important idea to be familiar with.
Quite often the sound of a vowel is affected by the letters near it, and R is a good example:
When a vowel is followed by an r, it makes a special sound. These are called r-controlled vowels:
cAR the A is neither short as in cat nor long as in name, because the R after it gives it a different sound.
AR sounds like CAR.
OR sounds like FOR.
IR, ER, UR,
sound the same as in BIRD, HER, and FUR.
which are different from the short or long sounds of these vowels.
Another way a vowel sound can change is if it is followed by two l's
all of these sounds are neither the long or the short vowel sound, and have the same sound as a long O in DOG.
The main thing to understand here is that there are many reasons why the sound of a vowel may not be what you expect it to be, and there are certainly more than the 5 sounds you expect.
The only way to learn them is to learn each word individually, and notice the sound of the vowels as you meet them. Don't assume they will sound the same as in other languages.