The sound /ɛ/ mid, front, lax vowel




  • "e" - red, left
  • "ea" - breath, instead
  • "ai" - said, again
  • "a" - many, says
  • "ie" (not common) - friend
  • "ue" (not common) - guess, guest


Compare /ɛ/ with /ɪ/:

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

You can hear the difference between /ɛ/ and /ɪ/ in these words.
1. A. head, B. hid
2. A. peg, B. pig
3. A. left, B. lift
4. A. setting, B. sitting
5. A. bell, B. bill
6. A. many, B. mini

Now, compare /ɛ/ and /ey/:

These are both mid, front vowels. However, /ɛ/ is pronounced with a relaxed tongue, and /ey/ is pronounced with a tense tongue.

You can hear the difference between /ɛ/ and /ey/ in these words.
1. A. tech, B. take
2. A. west, B. waste
3. A. shed, B. shade
4. A. sell, B. sale
5. A. men, B. main
6. A. teller, B. tailor
Listen and repeat these words:
1. dead
2. less
3. beg
4. spell
5. left
6. end
7. effort
8. correct
9. yellow
10. pressure
11. better
12. welcome
13. confess
14. pleasant
15. forever
16. remember
17. elegant
18. adventure
19. decorated
20. unsettled

Now, practice /ɛ/ in sentences. Say the words first, then the sentences.
1. well - better - bed
If you're not feeling well, you had better go to bed.
2. envelope - send - letter
I need an envelope so I can send my letter.
3. correct - best - guess
If you don't know the correct answer, make your best guess.
4. get - dressed - then - ready
I need to get dressed, and then I'll be ready.
5. next - step - recipe
What is the next step in the recipe?
6. ever - read - best-selling
Have you ever read a best-selling novel?

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

Consonants /d/ and /g/

What we understand will appear here!
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