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English tense vowels   

"Vowel space" positions of the tense vowels:             (What does "tense" mean? )
KEYWORD SYMBOL EXAMPLES

FLEECE

feed tree steam magazine piece receive meal

PALM

ma far pass part heart calm half laugh

THOUGHT

saw daughter fault all talk water horse door board four

GOOSE

glue crew feud moon who move through juice shoe

NURSE

err earth bird turn word worse journey colonel

 

What does "TENSE" mean?

Lax vowels, remember, are short. Tense vowels are also called long vowels; this name is slightly misleading because, in RP English at least, the tense vowels have variable length; they can be much longer than the lax vowels, but under certain conditions they become clipped, or shortened to roughly lax vowel length. Tense vowels, then, have more variable length than lax vowels. Tense vowels can be unchecked; that is, they can occur at the end of a word.

Here are the tense and lax vowels together in one chart:


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