How to Improve Your Pronunciation of The English Schwa Sound.

Here’s a few facts you need to know about schwa. 

 – schwa is pronounced like a very weak ‘uh’ sound. The tongue and lips are completely relaxed. You just need to exhale some air and add voice. 

– schwa is the most common vowel in English. 

– you cannot tell by the spelling of a word whether it has a schwa in it or not. You need to start to hear it. 

– if you don’t use schwa, it won’t have a big effect on how clear your English is, but it does give you an accent.

– for very advanced non-native English speakers, not using schwa like a native speaker is often one of the main factors that gives them a detectable accent. 

– schwa is most common in Australian English, then American English and less so in British English. See some more on this here. 


 Vennage – 


course for you. 

Learn and revise the basics on Schwa here. For example 

English Schwa Sound In The IPA

Which Vowels Can Become Schwa

A schwa is the ‘uh’ sound found in an unstressed syllable. For example, the first syllable in amazing (ǝ-MA-zing), the first syllable in tenacious (tǝ-NA-cious), the second syllable in replicate (RE-plǝ-cate), the second syllable in percolate (PER-cǝ-late), the first syllable in supply (sǝ –PLY), the first syllable in syringe (sǝ-RINGE). That’s a written A, E, I, O, U and even a Y coming out as schwa in the spoken version.

Which Vowels Often Become Schwa

Usually —-




English Schwa Sound Practice

Listen to Schwa sound examples / English schwa examples



cut | luck | fuss | cup

put | look | cook | good

This vowel is in many weak syllables:
apart | pilot | carrot | minute

Schwa Activities

Practice making your schwa sound with the recording tools below. 


Schwa Word List

So, you’re wondering what are some schwa words? Below are some examples of schwa in common words. 


Practice Schwa In Phrases & Sentences

So, you’re wondering what are some schwa words? Below are some examples of schwa in common words. 


heat | peak | piece | leak

start | dark | glass | laugh

suit | threw | juice | room

caught | pork | horse | form

hurt | work | nurse | sir

Listen to English Diphthong Vowels / English Double Vowels

Some of these vowels won’t exist in your first language. Because of this you may be mispronouncing them.

Listen and compare! As you listen to and record each double vowel, check you are you making the first vowel AND the second vowel too. When many non-native speakers say a word like ‘phone’ they often leave out the 2nd vowel in the diphthong. The vowel in ‘phone’ is /oʊ/, but they pronounce the /o/ and not the /ʊ/. As you go through, feel the two positions in each double vowel.   

English Consonant Sounds

Listen carefully to each English consonant sound as you make them. Think about the position of your mouth as you make each consonant sound.  With a Speech Active Course you will perfect all the consonant sounds that speakers of your first language find challenging. 

Pay particular attention to consonant sounds at the ends of words. Non-native speakers sometimes leave off important end sounds and this results in unclear pronunciation and sounding like you have poor grammar (past tense and plural endings). See this article on improving your pronunciation of sounds at the ends of English words

Listen to all the Consonant Sounds in English. Record yourself and compare. 

English Word Stress

The way we use the pitch of the voice to stress certain syllables in English is very important for speaking clearly. This makes the ‘music’ of English.

Did you know that one syllable in every multi-syllable English word is stressed? 

Non-native English speakers often make the stress too even or flat, or they might put the stress on the wrong syllable. 

Unfortunately you can’t tell where the stress is in an English word by the spelling! 

This is often a particularly difficult area for non-native speakers. With your Speech Active Course you will become a master of word stress, sentence stress and weak vowels. You’ll become an expert at hearing and making the correct rhythm and stress in English words and sentences.

In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) the word stress is marked with a little dash /ˈ/ – see the ˈ in between the bracketsThe dash means that the next syllable is stressed. More on how word stress is marked in the IPA

Listen carefully to the up and down of the voice.

English Word Stress




Why is ‘schwa’ called ‘schwa’.?

The word “schwa” comes from Hebrew.

In Hebrew writing, “shva” is a vowel diacritic that can be written under letters to indicate an ‘eh’ sound (which is not the same as our schwa). The term was first used in linguistics by 19th century Germany philologists, which is why we use the German spelling, “schwa.”

Before people started calling it “schwa” in English (around 1895) it had a lot of nicknames.

It’s been called the murmur vowel, the indeterminate vowel, the neutral vowel, the obscure vowel, and the natural vowel.


English has a tendency to delete a syllable with a schwa.

What happened to the third syllable in the following words? Caramel (car-mel), separate (sep-rate), different (dif-rent), chocolate (choc-late), camera (cam-ra). They fell victim to a terrible disease called schwa syncope (or schwa deletion). Actually, it’s not so terrible, and it happens in lots of languages. A schwa syllable following the syllable that bears the main stress says, “well I’m not really needed here anyway” and skips town.

Schwa examples in English / 20 words with schwa

I created this page to help people learning English pronunciation and who want to improve their English accent. 

You can use the recording tool and information above to listen to, record and practise all the sounds in English – each and every English vowel sound and each and every English consonant sound.

Some of them might be different to what you think! Listen carefully.  

English has a lot of sounds! Many languages have WAY fewer vowel sounds than English. As a non-native English speaker, it’s likely that you have difficulty with some vowel and consonant sounds because they don’t exist in your first language.

You’ll be able to:

  • listen to all the English sounds – listen to audio of all the English vowel and consonant sounds. 
  • record and check your pronunciation of English vowel and consonant sounds. 
  • revise the IPA International Phonetic Alphabet
  • practise your pronunciation of English vowel and consonant sounds.

We hope you love it and find it seriously helpful. 

Would you like more help improving your English Pronunciation? Our online courses will help you speak clearer English and will give you the practise you need to correct your English vowel and consonant sounds. Check out our English Pronunciation Online Courses


Start improving today with our tailored English Pronunciation & Fluency Courses.


Become a master at English word stress, sentence stress, weak vowels and all areas of English pronunciation with Speech Active. Check out our full English Pronunciation and Fluency Courses here

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