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What's the difference between 'ə',and 'ʌ'?

I really can't find it out.

Please tell me the difference of them.

Thanks in advance!

Aug 18, 2016 10:10 PM
Comments · 5
/ʌ/ and /ə/ are essentially the same sound, but they represent different phonemes. /ʌ/ is a phoneme that occurs in accented syllables — either primary or secondary accent. For example “bump up.” Do not confuse it with /æ/, /a/, /ɑ/, /ɒ/, or /ɔ/.

/ə/ is not really a phoneme, but rather, a representation of the “reduced vowel” (schwa). Almost all English vowels are reduced to schwa in unaccented syllable, so the sound can be spelled with any vowel letters. For example, the words “lesson” and “lessen” are pronounced exactly the same, because the vowels in the last syllables are both neutralized, or reduced, to /ə/.

The schwa is the most common sound in the English language, although most native speakers have never heard of it, and may even deny its existence. If you fail to master it, native speakers will still understand you, but you will have an extremely difficult time understanding us. Once you have mastered the schwa, your speaking and listening skills will skyrocket. Excellent question!

By the way, the schwa can indeed occur in one syllable structural words: a, the, can, for, to… generally prepositions, auxiliary verbs (affirmative), articles, pronouns, and so on.
August 18, 2016

'ə' (schwa) = the shortest vowel sound in English; sounds a bit as if you were lifting something heavy and let out air. ALWAYS UNSTRESSED, and as a rule doesn't appear in 1-syllable content words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs). Practically any vowel (a, e, i, o, u) may be pronounced as a schwa. For example, it can be heard in words like "doctor", "again", "sharpen" ....etc

 'ʌ' (short a) = it's also a short sound, but it is usually stressed, or appears in one-syllable words.  It is usually represented by letters "u" and "o" ("son", "sun", "come", "begun", "fun", ....etc), but there are also some exceptions ("blood" and "flood", for example).

August 18, 2016
Btw, if you’re interested in the importance of the schwa in one-syllable words, you should see my comment on a recent discussion:
August 19, 2016


"I really don't know. / I really don't get it. Please tell me how to tell them apart"


August 18, 2016
Thanks a lot!
August 18, 2016
Language Skills
English, Korean, Latin
Learning Language
English, Latin