Schwa Sound /ə/

The schwa /ə/ is a vowel sound found in weak syllables in English pronunciation. It is made with a neutral mouth position, the tongue is flat, the jaw mid, the lips relaxed and unrounded:

Schwa Sound Spellings

The schwa can be spelt with any of the 5 English vowel letters <a,e,i,o,u>

<a> annoy, sofa
<e> persist, water
<i> council
<o> collide, motor
<u> survive, collumn

Schwa in Function Words

Many function words (prepositions, auxiliary verbs, articles etc.) are pronounced with a schwa sound when weak, and a different vowel sound when strong:

Who is this card for? /fɔː/
It’s for me. /fə/


Where are they? /ɑː/
Are you sure you told them to come? /ə/


Learn English IPA (44 sounds)

Use the interactive IPA chart and practice activities to master the sounds of English.