The sound /ɪ/ high, front, lax vowel

This vowel is usually stressed, as in these words:
  • middle
  • listen
  • convince



However, /ɪ/ can also be unstressed. In an unstressed syllable, /ɪ/ is pronounced quickly and softly.
  • artist
  • looking
  • impossible

  • "i" - it, little
  • "y" - symbol, mystery
  • "u" - busy, business 
  • "ui" - build, biscuit 
Grammar Tip:

The sound /ɪ/ occurs in the common prefixes “im-“ and “in-“. These prefixes usually occur at the beginning of a verb or adjective. The vowel /ɪ/ is usually unstressed in the prefix, though not always.
  • important
  • impossible
  • improvise
  • infer, 
  • invite, 
  • indicate
Compare /ɪ/ with /iy/:
These are both high, front vowels. However, /ɪ/ is pronounced with a relaxed tongue and /iy/ is pronounced with a tense tongue.
You can hear the difference between /ɪ/ and /iy/ in these words.
1. A. bit, B. beat
2. A. pill, B. peel
3. A. litter, B. leader
4. A. grin, B. green
5. A. risen, B. reason
5. A. filling, B. feeling
Now, compare /ɪ/ with /ɛ/:

These are both lax, front vowels. However, /ɪ/ is a high vowel, and /ɛ/ is a mid vowel.

You can hear the difference between /ɪ/ and /ɛ/ in these words.
1. A. sit, B. set
2. A. lift, B. left
3. A. listen, B. lesson
4. A. pin, B. pen
5. A. fill, B. fell
6. A. bitter, B. better


Listen and repeat these words:
1. slip
2. fit
3. sick
4. pig
5. miss
6. give
7. lift
8. sin
9. limb
10. fill
11. slipper
12. blister
13. mitten
14. artist
15. pity
16. winter
17. important
18. convince
19. distribute
20. invisible

Now, practice /ɪ/ in sentences. Say the words first, then the sentences.
1. visit - sister – sit - kitchen
When I visit my sister, we sit in the kitchen.
2. sick – picking – mittens
I’m sick of picking up your mittens.
3. lip – sipping – milk
I burned my lip by sipping hot milk.
4. river - isn't - swim - in
The river isn't deep enough to swim in.
5. list – picks - film
Can you list your top picks for best film?
6. city – visitor’s – sixth
We’re at the city visitor’s center on Sixth Street.

To practice with different varieties of English, choose another native English speaker by clicking one of the links below:

Consonants /d/ and /g/

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