So-called “short e”
The so-called “short e” sound is an informal term that means the short sound of the letter e which is IPA phoneme /e/.
- Examples: dress, envy, or century
The term “short e” should only be used when the spelling is actually “e”. It's confusing to say "head is pronounced with short e". If this sentence had to be spoken it would be better to say "head is pronounced with the DRESS vowel". Alternatively it could be said "head is pronounced like the short sound of the letter e".
Another reason why the terms “long e” and “short e” are not recommended is because the opposition between /e/ and /iː/ (“long e”) is not only a difference in length, but mainly a difference in quality.
accept, bell, bend, best, bet, correct, desk, egg, end, expect, forget, get, hell, help, hotel, jet, leg, lend, let, met, neck, next, pen, protect, rent, request, sell, send, set, spend, suggest, tell, theft, well, went, wet, when, yell, yes
“Short e” in combinations
When a combination of e and another letter has the sound /e/ it is confusing to say that it has the “short e” sound. It is better to say it has the vowel of DRESS.
- "ea": ahead - already - bread - breakfast - breast - breath - cleanse - dead - deaf - dealt - death - dread - dreadful - feather - head - header - health - heather - heavy - instead - jealous - lead (metal) - leapt - leather - meadow - meant - measure - pheasant - pleasant - pleasure - read (past tense and past participle) - ready - spread - steady - sweat - thread - threat - threaten - treachery - tread - treadmill - treasure - wealth - weapon - weather
|“Short”||“Long”||Long rhotic monophthong
“Short” vowel spelling
“Long” vowel spelling
|A||/æ/ trap||/eɪ/ face||/ɑː/ start||/eə/ square||/æ/ carry|
|E||/e/ dress||/iː/ we||/ɜː/ term||/ɪə/ here||/e/ cherry|
|I||/ɪ/ kit||/aɪ/ price||/ɜː/ girl||/aɪə/ fire||/ɪ/ mirror|
|O||/ɒ/ lot||/əʊ/ hope||/ɔː/ north||/ɔː/ store||/ɒ,BrE ɔːAmE/ torrid|
|U||/ʌ/ strut||/juː/ cute||/ɜː/ nurse||/jʊə/ cure||/ʌ,BrE ɜːAmE/ hurry|