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Top 6 Vowel Changes You Should Use to Sound More American

Native speakers of Hindi often pronounce words using different vowels sounds than native speakers of American English. This can make it harder for Americans to figure out what they are saying, and may even lead to them confusing what they said with another word, just because of the vowel sound. If you are a native speaker of Hindi, here are the top vowel sounds you can try to use in your speech more often to be better understood.

1. - Say Instead Of In Words Spelled with “A”

isn’t a common vowel sound in most of the world’s languages, but it is very common in American English and one of the things that make the American English accent distinctive. Because most languages and dialects don’t use this sound, people who didn’t grow up in the United States tend to not use it in their speech and use the sound instead. The sound is made more in the middle of your mouth, while the sound is made more towards the back of your mouth.

Here are some example words that Americans pronounce with the sound. Make sure that when you say these words, you use the vowel instead of the vowel.

  • apple - ˈæpəl
  • American - əˈmɛrəkən
  • brand - brænd
  • companion - kəmˈpænjən
  • past - pæst

2. - Say instead of

Many words in American English are spelled with the letter “o”, but aren’t pronounced with the vowel. Generally, these words are pronounced with but native speakers of American Speakers, but native Hindi speakers pronounce these words with an sound, since after all, they are spelled with the letter "o"! Nevertheless, Americans are expecting to hear you use instead of for the vowel for many of these words, so make sure to pronounce the majority of words that are spelled with an "o" with the vowel instead of the vowel .

  • college ˈkɑlɪʤ$, not *ˈkolɪʤ
  • technology technology, tɛkˈnɑləʤi
  • beyond bɪˈyɑnd
  • job ʤɑb
  • product ˈprɑdəkt

Confusion with The Vowel

When Americans speak, words that are spelled with the letter "o" are often pronounced with the vowel. Words that are spelled with the letter “a” are usually not pronounced with the vowel, they are usually pronounced with the vowel.

Who Might Use And When?

Passion

Hindi Speaker - pronounces passion with , similar to ˈpaʃən
AE Speaker - pronounces passion with in ˈpæʃən

Option

Hindi Speaker - pronounced option with , similar to ˈopʃən
AE Speaker - pronounces option with in ˈɑpʃən

If the word contains the letter o, it’s likely that you should say , not .
If the word contains the letter a, it’s likely you should say , not .

3. - Say Instead In Words Spelled with “E”

American English uses many vowels that are made with lips that aren’t spread wide; they are closer together. The sound is one of these sounds. Native Hindi speakers tend to pronounce these words with the ey sound instead, which is made with the lips further apart. If a word is spelled with the letter "e" that isn’t followed by the letter "i" or the letter "y", it’s probably pronounced with , not .

Here are some example words that Americans pronounce with the sound. Make sure that when you say these words, you use the vowel instead of the vowel.

  • American əˈmɛrəkən
  • bet bɛt
    • If you don’t pronounce this with , it will sound like bait, and potentially confuse people.
  • developer dɪˈvɛləpər
  • fresh frɛʃ
  • select səˈlɛkt

4. - Say instead of In Words Spelled With “I”

The sound is another vowel that is made with closed lips, but that Hindi speakers and other non-native speakers of English speakers commonly pronounce more similar to the vowel, which is made with your lips spread further apart.

Here are some example words that Americans pronounce with the vowel. Make sure that when you say these words, you use the vowel instead of the vowel.

  • image ˈɪməʤəz
  • middle ˈmɪdəl
  • hit hɪt
    • If you mispronounce this it will sound like heat, and potentially confuse people.
  • rhythm ˈrɪðəm
  • visible ˈvɪzəbəl

5. - Say Instead of In Words Spelled With U

The sound is yet another sound that is made with narrow lips. It’s less common in most of the world's languages than , which is pronounced similarly, but with wider lips. Many Hindi speakers consistently pronounce words with the letter "u" with the vowel, but the majority of these words are pronounced with the sound in American English instead.

Here are some example words that Americans pronounce with the . Make sure that when you say these words, you use the vowel instead of the vowel.

  • luck lʌk
  • upper ˈʌpər
  • crush krʌʃ
  • ultimate ˈʌltəmət
  • customer ˈkʌstəmər

6. - Say Instead of Other Vowels If The Syllable is Unstressed

What's a schwa? is the name of a central, reduced vowel that occurs only in unstressed syllables. It is the most common sound in American English. In American English there are both unstressed and stressed syllables. If a syllable is unstressed, it is quiet, short in length, has a lower pitch, and can only contain certain vowels such as: , , , and . is the most common vowel found in unstressed syllables.

Many Hindi speakers don't use often or at all when speaking English. Instead, they pronounce syllables with easy to hear, clear, distinct vowels. However, when native speakers of American English listen, they expect to hear variation in how syllables are stressed. If they don't hear it, they might not understand the word or misinterpret it. So, if you are working to change your pronunciation to more easily understood, making sure that you use syllable stress like native American English speakers do, and that you use vowel, since it is the most common one in American English, will help you a lot.

Here are some example words that Americans pronounce with the vowel. Make sure that when you say these words, you use the vowel instead of clear, long drawn out vowels like , , or .

  • amazing əˈmeɪzɪŋ
  • believe bɪˈliv
  • connect kəˈnɛkt
  • because bɪˈkɔz
  • anchor ˈæŋkər

If you want to learn more about when to use , check out our article on the schwa vowel.

Summary

There are six vowels that are commonly pronounced differently by native speakers of Hindi compared to how native speakers of American English speakers say them. When you are practicing and paying attention to your speech, keep in mind the following patterns:

  • - Change To
  • - Change To
  • - Change To
  • - Change TO
  • - Change Vowels In Unstressed Syllables to

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