The Letter E

In this lesson, we will learn about all the sounds of the letter E. It is the fifth letter of the English alphabet. Hope you're still interested, yea?

"The Letter E" in the English Alphabet

E is the fifth letter and the second vowel letter of the English alphabet.

Vowels are sounds that are pronounced without any restriction in the vocal tract. It means we can produce it with the unrestricted flow of air.

Uppercase Form E
Lowercase e
Name e (pronounced /ˈiː/)
Common Sounds /e/, /i:/, /ɪ/, /ə/, /iə/

The Letter E: Sounds

Vowels in the English language can have many many sounds. Here we will look at some of its common ones.

Common Sounds

Sound 1: /e/

The first sound of 'e' is /e/:

egg /eɡ/

bed /bed/

envelope /ˈenvələʊp/

Sound 2: /i:/

'e' also sounds /i:/:

me /miː/

Chinese /ˌtʃaɪˈniːz/

Egypt /ˈiːdʒɪpt/

Sound 3: /ɪ/

'i' also sounds /ɪ/:

rocket /ˈrɒkɪt/

pretty /ˈprɪti/

cricket /ˈkrɪkɪt/

Sound 4: /ə/

'e' also sounds /ə/ in the last syllable of words:

broken /ˈbrəʊkən/

pollen /ˈpɒlən/

jewel /ˈdʒuːəl/

Sound 5: /iə/

'e' also sounds /ɪə/:

material /məˈtɪəriəl/

bacteria /bækˈtɪəriə/

cafeteria /ˌkæfəˈtɪəriə/

Tip

'e' sounds /ɒ/ in the French loanwords 'genre':

genre /ˈʒɒnrə/

The Letter E: Multigraphs

'E' can also appear in combination with other letters (mainly vowels and sometimes consonants). They can create distinct vowels:

ee

'ee' sounds /i:/:

tree /triː/

feet /fiːt/

eel /iːl/

'ee' also sounds /ɪə/:

cheer /tʃɪə(r)/

engineering /ˌen.dʒɪˈnɪər.ɪŋ/

pioneering /ˌpaɪəˈnɪə.rɪŋ/

ea

'ea' in the middle of words sounds /e/:

bread /bred/

head /hed/

thread /θred/

'ea' also sounds /i:/:

pea /piː/

beach /biːtʃ/

teacher /ˈtiːtʃə(r)/

'ea' also sounds /eɪ/:

break /breɪk/

steak /steɪk/

breaker /ˈbreɪkə(r)/

'ea' also sounds /ɪə/:

idea /aɪˈdɪə/

theater /ˈθɪətə(r)/

Tip

'ea' sounds /eə/ in the word 'bear' and its combination:

bearing /ˈbeərɪŋ/

ei

'ei' mainly sounds /eɪ/:

veil /veɪl/

rein /reɪn/

reign /reɪn/

'ei' sounds /i:/:

ceiling /ˈsiːlɪŋ/

protein /ˈprəʊtiːn/

receipt /rɪˈsiːt/

Tip

'ei' in these two words sound /aɪ/ or /ˈiː/:

either /ˈaɪðə(r)/, /ˈiːðə(r)/

neither /ˈnaɪðə(r)/, /ˈniːðə(r)/

eo

'eo' sounds /ə/:

dungeon /ˈdʌndʒən/

sturgeon /ˈstɜːdʒən/

Tip

'eo' sounds /i:/ in the word people:

people /ˈpiːpl/

eu

'eu' sounds /juː/ in many words:

eucalyptus /ˌjuːkəˈlɪptəs/

neutral /ˈnjuː.trəl/

Eugene /juːˈdʒiːn/

'eu' also sounds /jʊə/:

Europe /ˈjʊərəp/

euro /ˈjʊərəʊ/

neuro- /njʊə.rəʊ-/

ew

'ew' sounds /uː/ at the end of words:

crew /kruː/

screw /skruː/

cashew /ˈkæʃuː/

'ew' also sounds /əʊ/:

sew /səʊ/

sewn /səʊn/

ey

'ey' sounds /i:/ at the end of words:

monkey /ˈmʌŋki/

donkey /ˈdɒŋki/

money /ˈmʌni/

'ey' at the end of words sound /eɪ/:

grey /ɡreɪ/

prey /preɪ/

they /ðeɪ/

ae

'ae' sounds /eə/:

aerial /ˈeə.ri.əl/

aeroplane /ˈeərəpleɪn/

aerosol /ˈeərəsɒl/

Tip

'ae' sounds /eɪ/ in the word 'sundae':

sundae /ˈsʌn.deɪ/

ie

'ie' sounds /iː/:

achieve /əˈtʃiːv/

brief /briːf/

cookie /ˈkʊki/

'i' after a consonant and before the vowel 'e' sounds /aɪ/:

pie /paɪ/

tie /taɪ/

Tip

'ie' in the word friend sounds /e/:

friend /frend/

oe

'oe' sounds /əʊ/:

doe /dəʊ/

hoe /həʊ/

toe /təʊ/

'oe' at the end of words sounds /uː/:

shoe /ʃuː/

canoe /kəˈnuː/

Tip

'oe' sounds /ʌ/in the word 'does':

does /dʌz/

'oe' sounds /iː/ in French loanwords:

phoenix /ˈfiː.nɪks/

foetus /ˈfiː.təs/

ue

'ue' at the end or in the middle of words sounds /u:/

blue /bluː/

glue /ɡluː/

clue /kluː/

Silent -e

The letter “E” is usually silent when it is at the end of a word, as in “safe”. Silent -e can also be found in the middle of a word, when it is in a compound, such as “safeguard” (safe + guard), or when suffixes are added, as in “safely”. (see more about Silent -e).

The Letter E: Uses

The letter 'e' can be used as
The third musical note
A grade in educational systems, like she got an E in French.

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