The Schwa Sound in American English



schwaIn order to reduce your accent effectively,  it is absolutely critical that you learn to use the schwa vowel sound.  In this short article I will explain what the schwa sound is and how using the schwa sound will improve your accent.

What is the schwa sound?…..

The schwa sound is the most common vowel sound (not letter) in North American English. The schwa sounds like “uh”. It is pronounced with the mouth and tongue in a very relaxed position.

The schwa sound can be represented by any vowel. The IPA symbol for schwa is /ə/.

Here’s how the schwa works in words with more than one syllable.

When you are speaking English the vowels in stressed syllables usually have a long clear sound. However, the vowels in unstressed syllables  are reduced. That means that they often have a schwa sound.

In the words below the first syllable is stressed with a long clear vowel. The vowel in the second syllable sounds like a schwa /ə/.





The combination of  long clear vowel sounds and reduced schwa vowel sounds help to create the rhythm of spoken English.

Americans listen for this rhythm when others are speaking. This rhythm helps native speakers to identify and understand words and sentences.

The schwa sound is tricky but you must learn to use it in order to reduce your accent. I teach you all you need to know about the schwa vowel sound in my Accent Reduction Coaching program.

Accent reduction coaching is the best way for serious students and international professionals to reduce their accents and communicate more clearly.

If you are not ready for accent reduction coaching, consider starting with a self study course.

Accent reduction training takes time and effort but if you want to speak clearly and effectively, it’s well worth the investment!