I asked my English teacher about pronunciation of words like table, available, apple or people. He told me they end with a short A. But when I listen to native English speakers, I hear "pee-pole", which seems like a short O to me.

  • 2
    Its more like the 'u' in pull or bull
    – Jim
    Dec 27 '13 at 5:45
  • 1
    Any dictionary will tell you that people is pronounced [ˈpʰiːpəl], sometimes written [ˈpʰiːpl̩].
    – tchrist
    Dec 27 '13 at 5:50
  • 2
    Listen: people Audio (US); Audio (UK) en.wiktionary.org/wiki/people & try: youtube.com/watch?v=qyl-TE8JJ8U (I've not checked the youtube link.)
    – Kris
    Dec 27 '13 at 7:14
  • @Jim Pronunciations vary.
    – Kris
    Dec 27 '13 at 7:14
  • From what I've observed, the schwa sound (ə) in this word (people) will sound closer to pull in AmE accents, and closer to pole in BrE. Being a non-native speaker, I know that the schwa can trouble us somewhat. I wrote an answer about this schwa sound specifically. I hope that you will find it useful: ell.stackexchange.com/a/14568/3281. Dec 28 '13 at 10:07

The phonemic pronunciation of people is /ˈpi pəl/. So the first syllable is stressed, and the second is weaker (PEO-ple).

The upside-down "e" in the second syllable is called a schwa, and it represents a "neutral" vowel. The Random House definition of "schwa" gives as examples:

the sound of a in alone and sofa, e in system, i in easily, o in gallop, u in circus.

The Cambridge Dictionaries online write this as /ˈpiː.pl̩/, indicating a much shorter vowel in the second syllable.

  • That is not an accurate IPA pronunciation. It’s closer to being a phonemic rendition, in which case you should use /slashes/ rather than [brackets]. Dec 27 '13 at 12:13

American and English pronunciations of the word people:

You can find pronunciations for the words table, available and apple at these links:

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