List of Short Vowel Words

The English language provides a list of short vowel words that seem to be never ending. A short vowel word is any word that doesn't allow the vowel within it to generate that vowel's long vowel sound.

List of Short Vowel Words List of Short Vowel Words

For example, the word "bug" is a short vowel word because there's no long "U" sound. A word doesn't necessarily have to have three letters to be a short vowel word, but it makes for the easiest example and three-lettered words make up the bulk of any list of short vowel words. Let's take a look.

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Short Vowel Sounds in Words

Here's the reason why words with only three letters typically make the short vowel sound. Three letters usually don't allow for a second vowel to force the long vowel sound out. Exceptions include words like "bee" or "tea."

These words use a second vowel to force the long vowel sound from the first one, while other words like "ant" or "mat" use the placement of consonants to force a short vowel sound.

But, here's an important point to keep in mind. The words listed below are short vowel sounds, not short vowel spellings. That is, just because a word is short, doesn't mean it will automatically have a short vowel sound. And vowel as written doesn't always correspond with the sound it makes. Take the word "pretty." The E is sounded like a short I, and the Y is sounded like a long E. Phonetically, it sounds more like "prit-tee," not "pret-tai."

Likewise, we can't assume a long word will automatically have a long vowel sound. Let's look at the word "business." The U and E in "business" are also sounded like a short I, and the I is silent altogether. Phonetically speaking, we don't pronounce it "buss-eye-ness." It's more like "biz-niss." With that in mind, let's explore more short vowel words, sorted by letter.

Short "A" Words

The short A sound is what you hear in words like "bat" or "map." Here are some other great examples of words with the short A sound.

act

apt

ask

bat

bad

bag

cat

cap

cab

dad

dab

Dan

fan

fat

fad

gap

gab

gal

gas

ham

has

had

hat

jab

jam

lab

lad

lag

lap

man

mad

mat

map

nap

pan

Pam

pad

pal

ran

ram

rag

rat

Sam

sad

sag

sat

sap

tab

tan

tad

tag

tap

van

vat

yam

zap

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Short "E" Words

The short E sound is what you hear in words like "gem" or "hem." Here are some other great examples of words with the short E sound.

ben

bed

beg

bet

den

fed

gem

get

gel

hen

hem

jet

keg

led

leg

let

men

met

net

pen

peg

pet

red

set

ten

Ted

vet

yet

wed

wet

Short "I" Words

The short I sound is what you hear in words like "dim" or "fib." Here are some other great examples of words with the short I sound.

bin

bid

big

bit

dim

did

dig

dip

fin

fig

fit

gin

gig

him

his

hid

hit

hip

jib

jig

kin

kid

kit

lid

lit

lip

nip

pin

pig

pit

rim

rid

rig

rip

sin

sit

sip

tin

tip

win

wit

zip

Short "O" Words

The short O sound is what you hear in words like "con" or "nod." Here are some other great examples of words with the short O sound.

bog

bop

con

cod

cog

cot

cop

don

dog

dot

fog

god

got

hog

hot

jog

jot

lob

log

lot

lop

mob

mom

mop

nod

not

odd

pod

pop

pot

rod

rot

sod

Tom

tot

top

Short "U" Words

The short U sound is what you hear in words like "bus" or "hum." Here are some other great examples of words with the short U sound.

bun

bum

bus

bud

bug

but

cud

cut

cup

dug

fun

gun

gum

Gus

gut

hum

hug

hut

jug

jut

lug

mug

nun

nut

pun

pug

pup

rub

run

rum

rug

rut

sub

sun

sum

tug

short vowel sounds for a


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Using Short Vowel Sounds

Though the above list of words with short vowels is incomplete, you can use it to understand the basic usage for the short vowel sounds. These short vowel sounds are often used in larger words as well. You might see them in words that also contain long vowel sounds, or even in two-lettered words, like "in," "it," and "at." Longer words, such as "magistrate" or "fascinate," use both short long vowel sounds.

Some words use the short vowel sound and the long vowel sound, depending on the tense of the word. Words like "read," for example, are pronounced as the long vowel sound when the tense is present. For example, "We are reading this list of short vowel words."

However, when the tense is changed from present to past tense, the long vowel sound is taken away and the short vowel sound is introduced in the same word. For example, "I read the list of short vowel words, and understand much better now."

Pronunciation Pros

If you're teaching short vowel sounds to little learners, practice makes perfect. If you're teaching ESL students, here are some tips and resources for teaching ESL pronunciation. And, when you're ready for the flip side of the coin? Take a look at these examples of long vowel words too. You might also want to explore when "y" is a vowel.