Do you want to have a quick look at the phonetic alphabet? Click here to see the /æ/ in the phonetic alphabet chart.
(Note: if you’re not familiar with those symbols, you can learn them in less than two hours with my free phonetic alphabet course.)
How do you produce the /æ/ sound?
In this topic I’m going to show you step by step what your lips and tongue must do to produce the /æ/. First, let’s see the /æ/ in action. Press Play to watch this short video:
Now let’s see what your lips should look like when you’re saying the /æ/:
And this is the position of the tongue.
Let’s listen again to the /æ/ and its sample word:
Do you want to have a go? Place the tip of your tongue just behind your bottom front teeth, without touching them; shape your lips like in the picture below, and say /æ/ a couple of times.
Listen again to the /æ/ said by a native speaker. Play it several times to get used to the /æ/, and then say it out loud along with the recording. Make sure your /æ/ is a short sound.
To make sure you’re saying the /æ/ right, use a mirror to compare your lip shape with this image:
Let’s have another go at the /æ/. Make sure your lips look like in the picture above, and the back of your tongue isn’t touching your palate. Now, say the /æ/.
The tip of your tongue should be very close to the back of your bottom front teeth, but not touching them. Let’s see again how it should look:
Notice that the middle part of your tongue should be fairly low and rising slightly, while the tip is just behind your bottom front teeth.
You can check those positions by doing this exercise in front of a mirror:
- While saying /æ/ move the tip of your tongue forward to check that it’s behind your bottom front teeth, without touching them.
- Then, while saying /æ/ again, raise the middle part of your tongue to check the distance from the palate.
- If it’s too high, open your mouth a little and it’ll drop. If it’s too low, close your mouth a little and it’ll rise.
You can do this exercise with me in my 1-to-1 English lessons.
Let’s say some words with an /æ/ sound
Let’s now say three words with an /æ/. First, play each word a few times and listen to it carefully. Remember that /æ/ is a short sound.
Now it’s your turn to speak. Press Play and say these three words out loud after the recordings:
When practising words, make sure you say them out loud, as if you were talking to me. To train your lips and tongue to produce the English sounds, it’s essential that you say words out loud, not just quietly in your head.
Have another go:
Let’s play those flashcards again
To master the /æ/, come back to this page every now and then to remind yourself of the lip shape and tongue position.
To master it even faster, go through this page one more time now. Click here to flip all the flashcards and play them again.
Would you like to practise the /æ/ with me?
You can get more tips on how to produce the /æ/ always right in my 1-to-1 English lessons.
There, you also get to do more pronunciation exercises with me.
In the next topic I show you the spellings for the /æ/.