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Welcome to this Seattle Learning Academy video lesson.

The short a /æ/ sounds like (short a). It's the vowel sound in the word cat /k æ t/.

How to Pronounce the short a Sound

To create the /æ/, the jaw drops and the tip of the tongue presses into the bottom front teeth. The body of the tongue rounds upward.

(short a) cat: /k æ t/
(short a) cat: /k æ t/

The /æ/ sound has a rather long duration, meaning that it is said for more time than some other vowel sounds.

Repeat the /æ/ sound after me: /æ/.

Our /æ/ key word is the word: catcat.

Remember that the body of the tongue curves upward during the /æ/ sound. If the body of the tongue is held low and flat, a short o sound /a/ will be produced instead. Listen to both the /æ/ and /a/: /æ/, /a/: 


(Practice more short a/short o minimal pairs here!)

Common Spellings

There's only one common spelling for the /æ/ sound, the consonant-a-consonant spelling (remember, the first consonant is not strictly required).

Examples of consonant-a-consonant are:


Non-phonetic Words

Words that are not pronounced in a way their spelling suggests are called non-phonetic words. The words have and laugh are both common non-phonetic English words that are pronounced with a /æ/ sound.


  1. back
  2. last
  3. hand
  4. fact
  5. chance
  6. black
  7. stand
  8. class
  9. have
  10. laugh
  11. after
  12. practice
  13. answer
  14. rather
  15. plastic
  16. traffic
  17. exactly

(Practice more short a words here!)

Thank you for watch this Seattle Learning Academy video lesson.

Exit: Stand back, Jack.