How do you pronounce the word "a"?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by MMRbella, Jan 24, 2008.

  1. MMRbella

    MMRbella Companion

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    Jan 24, 2008

    This has been driving me crazy-- what is the correct way to pronounce the word "a"? Is it long or schwa?

    Like in...
    Take a pencil out.
    A lady was just looking for you.
    Did you see a scarf anywhere?

    I always say it with a schwa sound, but a fellow teacher told me today that she always says it with the long a sound. To me, saying it long sounds unnatural. Another teacher said that it depends on the word that follows...

    I would really like to know, because I want to teach my kids the right way to say it! :help:
     
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  3. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Jan 24, 2008

    Either or... it is like saying "the"... thee or thuh. I don't think it really matters. Different people say it differently. I say it both ways.
     
  4. MMRbella

    MMRbella Companion

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    Thank you specialpreskoo! That's what I thought... I always figured it was just personal differences. I find that whenever I'm exaggerating a point, I use thee rather than thuh, and the same thing with long/schwa a.
     
  5. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I think it is dialect but I THINK I saw a post on here about vowels and consonants and what comes after it affecting how it is pronounced. Wait for others... they will tell ya.
     
  6. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I say it with a schwa. Just like I say thuh.
     
  7. Steph-ernie

    Steph-ernie Groupie

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    I think what you are thinking of is a / an. An is followed by a vowel sound and a is followed by a consonant sound. I don't think there really is a correct or incorrect way to pronounce A, although I could certainly be mistaken.
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jan 24, 2008

    If a or an are unstressed, they should be pronounced with schwa:

    That was a huge goose!

    If the indefinite article a is stressed, it's being stressed contrastively, and the contrast will be specifically in either how many ('one' vs. 'more than one') or indefinite vs definite) -

    That wasn't A huge goose, those were TWO huge geese!

    That wasn't A principal, that was THE principal!

    - and of course in the second example the vowel in the is pronounced as long e in spite of being followed by a consonant, which would normally demand a pronunciation with schwa.
     
  9. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    I pronounce it like the schwa.. uh. Unless I am trying to stress something's relevance.

    I heard of a teacher who taught her kids to say A and THEE instead of a and the, for spelling purposes... then when they read they had fluency issues because saying I went to THEE store to get A ball is just longer and more awkward.
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jan 25, 2008

    Not only is it more awkward, it's very un-idiomatic.
     
  11. wig

    wig Devotee

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    One should read the way they speak with the exception of the type of scenerios suggested by TeacherGroupie. In this area, people usually use uh and thuh. I had friends I visited frequently in the Tennesee mountains and they always said aye and thee.
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I don't now recall whether I can get a schwa to print here, but let me try. If it works, it'll show up between the slash marks, like any other proper phoneme:
    /ə/
     
  13. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Oh, cool: it worked! That means I can start inflicting real IPA phonetic symbols on you all! (insert here evil cackle)
     
  14. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    I use 'thee' and an before a word that begins with a vowel.
     
  15. Steph-ernie

    Steph-ernie Groupie

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    All I see between the two slashes is a box.
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Grump. So it didn't work.

    All right, you're all off the hook.
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Great idea...'a' is SUCH a difficult word to spell........:confused::lol::rofl::rofl::dunno:
     
  18. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    I see it TG. A little upside down e between the slashes.
     
  19. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Ah buleeve it is "aaaaayyyy" with a bit of a "yh"....as in "Ah buleeve aaaaaayyyyyh beg glass uh suweet tea might jes hit thu spot."

    And it's not a good idea to have "fail" and "fell" on the same spelling test.
     
  20. LKcoby11

    LKcoby11 Rookie

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    Jan 25, 2008

    the "a" is in an open syllable (meaning that there are no consonants following it), so therefore it makes the schwa sound. Just like it would in Alaska (both a's are in open syllables). :)
     
  21. michelb366

    michelb366 Comrade

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    Jan 26, 2008

    I was always taught (in Wisconsin) that a always says "uh" unless you are stressing it. However I havea student from Texas (not sure if it's common there or not) that says the long a every time he sees the letter a.
    As for "the", I was always taught to pronounce it "thee" when the next word began with a vowel: the towel, "thee" elephant
     
  22. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Jan 27, 2008

    Me too. In the Midwest we get a bit lazy with our vowels though. When I went to England everybody pronounced "a" and "the" with long vowel sounds.
     

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