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.

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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;

These words have two letter As but only one sounds like /æ/, which one?

Answers are in the comments below!

A rules

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.

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/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.







One thought on “A is for apple

  1. Answers to the two As words, the CAPITAL A are the ones that sound like /æ/
    abAndon, acAdemy, Actual, adApt, Africa, Alphabet, Amazon, Animal, bAggage, JapAn.


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