Last time we learnt that the letter A has many sounds. The first sound English speakers learn is /æ/ that’s the sound of the A in apple or in cat.
How to make the sound
This is a short sound, but you have to open your mouth wide, like you’re surprised to see your friend. To get a really good /æ/ sound smile a bit when you say it, that turns the corners of your mouth up and your tongue makes a bowl shape.
How to spell it
We are so, so lucky with this sound because /æ/ is always spelt A. Always. (but remember letter A doesn’t always sound like /æ/). Here are some examples;
- jam, map, plan, thanks, bank, carry, bags, ran, black, hat.
These words have two letter As but only one sounds like /æ/, which one?
- abandon, academy, actual, adapt, Africa, alphabet, amazon, animal, baggage, Japan.
Answers are in the comments below!
This one is a bit difficult. The sound /æ/ is always spelt A but there is no spelling rule that makes it unique.
When A is surrounded by consonants it sounds like /æ/. Well, it’s true that sound /æ/ has consonants on both sides – ie man, band, cat. If letter A is with another vowel it doesn’t sound like /æ/. But this rule is not unique to the /æ/ sound, so we can’t really call it a rule. In fact, there are no rules about the spelling of the sound /æ/, only that it is always A. But A isn’t always /æ/. Sorry about that.
Also different accents use /æ/ differently, in the UK plant and laugh don’t have that sound, but in the USA both words do.
/æ/ or not?
Now try the quiz, do these words contain the /æ/ sound? (Remember I have a British accent!) Click finish quiz at the end to get your results.
Now listen to the words and practice.
Can you think of more words that contain /æ/? Can you make a good rule about spelling with /æ/? Let me know below.