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The Schwa

This week we thought we’d mix it up and teach you a little but about the most common sound in the English language, The Schwa.

Have you ever spoken to a native speaker and had no idea what they were saying?

As Teachify teachers, one of our main objectives is helping our students to sound as native as possible.

One of the most difficult sounds in the English language.
-Micael Soto 

It is the laziest sound in English!

We feel that if you are able to dominate what is a very complex sound, you’ll not only make yourself better understood, but you’ll also understand native speakers with ease.

¿Por que es tan complicado?

It’s difficult to explain exactly how to produce this sound & where it can occur.

As many of you have already realised, in English there are many rules regarding grammar, pronunciation & sentence structure, but there are also a lot of exceptions.

This week we are going to outline some of the basic rules to give you an insight into the world of “Mr Schwa”

Any written vowel can be transformed into a Schwa.

Rule #1

A – E – I – O – U

E.g. PrOtect – Prǝtect (Pra-tect)

E.g. TheatRE – Theatǝ (Zi-a-ta)

Rule #2

  • It occurs on an unstressed syllable as shown above. Protect has two syllables.


The second syllable is stressed, meaning it can NOT be the Schwa.

Do these words have 2, or 3 syllables?

Rule #3

E.g. Separate – chocolate – different

E.g. Sep-rate – choc-late – diff-rent

  • They all contain 3 syllables. When we use the above words in spoken English, we transform the middle syllable into the Schwa

A bit confusing, right? Don’t worry!

In the video below you can see some examples of how to use the Schwa which will help you on your way to sounding more like a native speaker.

Perfect your listening!

On the other hand, if you want some more videos like this one, leave a comment and we would be more than happy to create you a personalised video. ENJOY!

What can I do perfect this sound at home?

Learning English can be difficult, but with the correct tools and determination, there’s no reason why you can’t learn this at home.

We recommend using  The Sound of English and carrying out the various FREE pronunciation activities available. We have seen some fantastic results from our students.

Another way is to simply be aware of this sound when in class.

Sometimes it’s easy to “speak lazy” and not put any effort in to pronounce correctly.

When you’re in class with your Teachify teacher, make a point of trying to pronounce the words correctly, even trying to imitate your native teacher.

We hope you have enjoyed our weekly blog!

Cheeky little joke for you English lovers!

Finally, we think that you learn English more quickly if you’re having fun at the same time.  That’s why we’re going to end the blog with a light-hearted joke.

Why should you never date an apostrophe?

Because they’re too possessive LOL!

Click here and join our community of English lovers

Clases de inglés Sevilla

Next week, find out how to use two very confusing verbs MAKE & DO!

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