These are both low vowels. However, /æ/ is a front, tense vowel and /ɑ/ is a central, lax vowel. Your lips should be wider for /æ/ than for /a/.
You can hear the difference between /ɑ/ and /æ/ in these words.
1. A. block, B. black 2. A. pod, B. pad 3. A. hot, B. hat 4. A. bond, B. band 5. A. adopt, B. adapt 6. A. bottle, B. battle
Listen and repeat these words:
1. stop 2. got 3. spa 4. job 5. father 6. lock 7. far 8. harm 9. doctor 10. proper
11. common 12. contact 13. garden 14. article 15. obvious 16. possible 17. college 18. follow 19. opportunity 20. positive
Now practice /ɑ/ in sentences. Say the words first, then the sentence.
1. party - starts - clock The party starts at eight o'clock. 2. shopping - stop – latte Before we go shopping, let's stop for a latte. 3. large - pots - garden I bought some large pots for my balcony garden. 4. forgot - lock - car I think I forgot to lock my car. 5. common - problem - college Stress is a common problem among college students. 6. not - possible - opportunity It's not possible to say yes to every opportunity.
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