- "a...(e)" - came, late
- "ai" - train, wait
- "a" - age, April
- "ay" - day, maybe
- "ey" - they, obey
- "ea" - great, break
- "ei" - rein, veil
- "eigh"/"aigh" - neighbor, weigh, straight
- "et" (French origin) - crochet, ballet
The sound /ey/ is part of the common suffix “-ate,” when “-ate” is part of a verb. If the verb is more than 2 syllables, the /ey/ in the suffix is unstressed.
These are both front, tense vowels. However, /ey/ is a mid vowel and /iy/ is a high vowel.
You can hear the difference between /ey/ and /iy/ in these words.
2. A. raid, B. read
3. A. play, B. plea
4. A. raisin, B. reason
5. A. same, B. seem
6. A. fail, B. feel
Now, compare /ey/ with /ɛ/:
These are both mid, front vowels. However, /ey/ is a tense vowel, and /ɛ/ is a lax vowel. Your tongue should tighten when you pronounce /ey/, but not when you pronounce /ɛ/.
Now, practice /ey/ in sentences. Say the words first, then the sentences.
I'm making a cake for your birthday.
2. afraid - wake - snake
I'm afraid to wake up a sleeping snake.
3. raining - today - hail
It's raining today, with a chance of hail.
4. mayor - gave - waste
The mayor gave a speech about waste management.
5. makes - great - relationship
What makes a great relationship?
6. rainy - days - play - games
On rainy days, my family likes to play games.
To practice with different varieties of English, choose another native English speaker by clicking one of the links below: