in American English

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/

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/

bacteria /bækˈtɪriə/

cricket /ˈkrɪkɪt/

Sound 4: /ə/

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

broken /ˈbrəʊkən/

pollen /ˈpɒlən/

jewel /ˈdʒuːəl/

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 /tʃɪər/

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 /ˈtiːtʃər/

'ea' also sounds /eɪ/:

break /breɪk/

steak /steɪk/

'ea' also sounds /ɪə/:

idea /aɪˈdɪə/

theater /ˈθɪətər/

Tip

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

bearing /ˈberɪŋ/

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 /ˈaɪðər/, /ˈiːðər/

neither /ˈnaɪðər/, /ˈniːðər/

eo

'eo' sounds /ə/:

dungeon /ˈdʌndʒən/

sturgeon /ˈstɜːdʒən/

Tip

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

people /ˈpiːpl/

eu

'eu' sounds /jʊ/:

Europe /ˈjʊrəp/

euro /ˈjʊrəʊ/

'eu' standing at the beginning of words always sounds /juː/:

eucalyptus /ˌjuːkəˈlɪptəs/

euphoria /juːˈfɔː.ri.ə/

Eugene /juːˈdʒiːn/

'eu' standing in the middle of words always sounds /uː/:

neutral /ˈnuː.trəl/

pseudonym /ˈsuː.də.nɪm/

rheumatic /ruːˈmæt̬.ik/

Tip

'eu' also sounds /juː/:

eucalyptus /ˌjuːkəˈlɪptəs/

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 /e/:

aerial /ˈeriəl/

aeroplane /ˈerəpleɪn/

aerosol /ˈerəsɑːl/

Tip

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

sundae /ˈsʌndeɪ/

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/

clue /kluː/

true /truː/

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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