I have got the following English words. I want to arrange and put those that have similar vowel sounds together in a group. I have already arranged them but I am not sure.

Rift Sick Rich Sieve

Keep Peach leave siege

Tight wife Buy

Hat Man Band Blood

Hate Wait Weight Pays

Hot What Shop Wrong

But Ton

Dark Half Heart Fast

  • 1
    This varies so much from region to region that there is no single right answer
    – Jim
    Jan 20, 2014 at 23:00
  • 1
    user4065, which British accent? There isn't just one.
    – Tristan
    Jan 20, 2014 at 23:22
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    As others have said, it's hard to say definitively. That said, I don't think blood belongs with those other words; plus, I think dark and heart are fine together, but fast belongs with hat.
    – J.R.
    Jan 20, 2014 at 23:37
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    If you scroll down to the big chart you will see how complicated this is: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPA_chart_for_English_dialects
    – nxx
    Jan 20, 2014 at 23:37
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    i think in all dialects "what" and "blood" should go in the same category as "but" and "ton"
    – hunter
    Jan 21, 2014 at 1:44

2 Answers 2


Speaking as a mid-american, I would group them:

short i: rift sick rich sieve

long e: keep peach leave siege

long i ("uhh-ee"): tight wife

long i ("ahh-ee"): buy

short middle a: hat half fast

short back a:man band

long a ("ehh-ee"): hate wait weight pays

short o ("ahh"): hot shop

short u: what but ton blood

"ar": dark heart

"aw": wrong

I'm not sure how to describe the difference in pronunciation between "hat" and "man" but there is a definite, if subtle, change. For me it's a pulling-back of the corners of the mouth which adds a touch of "eeee" to the "aaa".

  • 1
    I didn't realize that anyone pronounced "buy" with a different vowel from "tight"! That's fascinating
    – hunter
    Jan 21, 2014 at 1:43

This is based on my pronunciation. I'm from London; based on the descriptions on Wikipedia, I'd describe my accent as closer to London Accent than Estuary English..

Borrowing the terminology from Hellion's answer:

short i: rift sick rich sieve

long e: keep peach leave siege

long i: tight wife buy

short a: Hat Man Band

long a: Hate Wait Weight Pays

short o: Hot What Shop Wrong

short u: But Ton Blood

ah: Dark Half Heart Fast

Note that "fast" is pronounced with an "ah" in some part of the UK, and with a short a in others. Also, short o in my accent (and other British accents) is shorter than in American accents; so "hot" and "heart" have very different vowel sounds, whereas they may be more similar in some American accents.

Regarding the idea of there being a "British accent": there's no such thing; there are many British accents.


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