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English Pronunciation: Connecting Two Vowel Sounds

In American English, when two separate vowel sounds are next to each other, we naturally connect them with with a light Y or W sound. This is a subtle point of pronunciation. It is useful if you are aiming for fluency or if it will improve your ability to understand American speakers.

Many double vowel spellings have only one sound--for example, "oa" indicates a long O sound as in "boat." Usually, two vowel sounds (notice this is about sounds, not letters) will be next to each other when a prefix,
such as "re," "pre," "pro" or "co," is combined with a word that begins with a vowel. Also, some prefixes have double vowel sounds, like "bio" and "geo."

The small Y or W happens because Americans are not precise with vowels. We have clear sounds, but we are comfortable switching from one sound to another as we speak, so that there is a blending sound in between. 
 


Watch Pronunciation Video

Words with Y Sounds
Pronunciation
Words with W Sounds
Pronunciation
beautiful
bee-YOO-di-ful
going
GO-wing
create
cree-YATE
doing
DOO-wing
eon
EE-yon
co-ed
CO-wed
aquarium
u-KWAIR-ee-yum
cooperate
co-WO-per-ate
millennium
mil-LE-nee-yum
coicidence
co-WIN-si-dens
biology
bi-Yo-lu-jee
co-exist
co-weg-ZIST
geography
jee-YO-gru-fee
canoeing
cu-NOO-wing
radio
RA-dee-yo
manual
MAN-yoo-wul
audio
AH-dee-yo
proactive
pro-WAK-tiv
preoccupy
pree-YO-kyoo-pi
annual
AN-yoo-wul
reimburse
ree-yim-BURS
fluent
FLU-went
reinvent
ree-yin-VENT
boa
BO-wu
reaction
ree-YAK-shun
ruin
ROO-win
reunion
ree-YOON-yun
usual
YOO-zhoo-wul
diameter
di-YAM-e-der
eventual
ee-VEN-choo-wul
priority
pri-YOR-i-dee
fluid
FLOO-wid
trial
TRI-yul
poetry
PO-we-tree

Note: even if the Y or W is on the stress, it is lightly pronounced--it's a blending sound that connects vowels. On the other hand, if you usually spoke these words with a slight break between the vowel sounds, you may try fully pronouncing the Y or W in order to get used to this change. Ultimately, these blending sounds should be part of the natural movement from one vowel to the other.

Try this practice conversation. Study other rules of speaking casual English.

Study all vowel sounds or learn the sounds of the alphabet. Learn other ways to sound American.

 

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