The Most Common Sound in Spoken English

The Most Common Sound in Spoken English

The Schwa Vowel Sound

The Schwa Vowel Sound

Linguistic research indicates that the most common sound in spoken English is the schwa vowel sound.

The phonetic symbol for schwa is /ə/.

Schwa sounds like “uh”.

Why is schwa the most common sound?

The schwa is the most common sound because any vowel can have a schwa sound.

Native speakers of English use the schwa sound to pronounce vowels in reduced syllables.

Spoken English has a lot of reduced syllables…there’s a reduced syllable in most multisyllabic words.

That means we use əllodə schwa sounds when we speak!

Example of how we use schwa

Here is an example of how American English speakers use the schwa /ə/ sound.

Let’s take my name… Susan…

When I say Susan the first syllable is stressed. The /uw/ has a long clear sound.

The letter a in the second syllable is reduced. That “a” has a schwa sound. It sounds like “uh”.

Phonetic symbols

Using phonetic symbols my name looks like: ‘su:zən.

When I teach my accent reduction coaching clients about the schwa sound, I type my name like this: Suw→zǝn.

Listen here


Learn to use schwa

The schwa sound occurs in almost every word!

That’s why it’s the most common sound in English (even though most people have never heard of it).

You simply must learn to use the schwa vowel sound if you REALLY want to reduce your accent! ☝