What Are Some Words With the Schwa Sound?

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In “banana,” the first and third vowels are pronounced as the schwa sound. In “harmony,” the “o” is schwa, as is the “a” in “about.” Schwa is the unstressed vowel in many other English words.

Schwa is a short, mid-central, “neutral” vowel in an unstressed syllable. It sounds like the word “uh” and is the most common vowel in spoken English. English speakers make a strong distinction between stressed and unstressed syllables, and reducing a vowel to schwa is one way of demonstrating this distinction.

The symbol for schwa in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is “?.” This symbol is not used in the English alphabet, as schwa refers to the pronunciation in spoken language. For each vowel letter (“a,” “e,” “i,” “o,” “u,” “y”) used in English writing, there are examples pronounced as schwa.

“Sofa,” “soda,” “America,” “vowel” and “problem” have their final vowels as schwa. The first “a” in “again,” the middle “e” in “enemy,” the “i” in “pencil,” the “o” in “official,” the “o” in “gallop” and the “u” in “supply” are all schwa.

Schwa appears in various languages around the world. It can be produced with the lips rounded, as it typically is in French, or unrounded.