Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

What Are Vowels?

What Are Vowels?

The letters A, E, I, O, and U are called vowels. The other letters in the alphabet are called consonants.

A vowel is classified as a speech sound produced by a comparatively open configuration of the vocal tract, with vibration of the vocal cords but without audible friction.

A vowel sound (but not necessarily a vowel in the actual spelling) will be present in a syllable.

Click to see the vowels in this sentence:

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. [show me the vowels]
Interactive Test

It's All About the Sound of the Letter Not the Vowel Itself

Use an before a vowel sound, and use a before a consonant sound. For example:
  • She was injured in a RTA.
  • She was injured in an RTA.
The key word here is sound. A vowel can have a vowel or a consonant sound, as can a consonant. For example, the capital letter R is a consonant, but it starts with a vowel sound. (It's pronounced ar.)

Read more using an and a.