How to pronounce words with long ee sound: shit vs sheet & bitch vs beach
Have you ever said some things that were not so nice, just because your pronunciation was a little incorrect? Words with long ee and short ih sounds are terrible for this!
For example, have you ever told your friends “Let’s go to the bitch this afternoon” when you clearly wanted to say “the beach”?
These mistakes are common, because English pronunciation is tricky, difficult. But today, you’ll learn how to NEVER make these mistakes again.
Before we start, I want to share an awesome message about my book “What The Faute”. The message comes from Ludivine, a Speak English Ambassador in the US.
She wrote to me to say:
“The chapter on pronunciation was the most useful part of the book for me. I feel like we never learned this at school, and you clearly explain how to avoid embarrassing bad pronunciations and be understood more easily.”
Now, it’s pronunciation fun time!
Words with long ee sounds & short ih sounds
There are two distinct vowel sounds that make the difference between words like:
- shit & sheet.
- bitch & beach
- piss & piece
It seems like a lot of pronunciation mistakes are often with bad words. Pronounce it correctly, it’s a nice word. Pronounce it incorrectly, it’s vulgar.
It’s as if the English language wants you to make these embarrassing mistakes.
Let’s look at two important sounds:
long “e”, like “eeeeee”
the short “i” sound, like “ih”
To make the long “e” sound, imagine you’re projecting the sound a long way, like “eeeeeeee”. It’s probably best if you watch the video lesson to see me demonstrate this for you.
For the short “i” sound, you don’t project the sound. It falls. Imagine the sound just falling out of your mouth. Again, it’s easier to understand if you watch the video lesson below.
How to position your mouth
To make the long “ee” sound and short “ih” sound, pay special attention to the position of your mouth.
For the long “ee”, like sheet, beach, and piece, they’re happy words, so your mouth position is like a smile. The corners of your mouth move up. (Watch the video lesson, you’ll see exactly how to do this).
For the short “ih” sound your jaw drops, like the sound. Your jaw moves down a little, and you open your mouth more. (Watch the video, you’ll see. I bet you really want to watch the lesson now, don’t you?
Practice for yourself
Here’s some practice sentences. Read them slowly, so you can concentrate on the position of your mouth and how you project the sound:
I love the beach
I love the bitch (don’t ever say this in public…)
I wanna piece of cake!
I wanna piss. (to piss = vulgar slang for “to go to the restroom, to pee)
The information is in a spreadsheet.
The information is in a “spreadshit.” (That’s not a real word, but it’s a real mistake that a friend of mine made! We laugh at it now :-)
Good news for you!
Now some good news. If your native language is French, or maybe Spanish, it’s actually easier for you to make the long “e” sound. So if you don’t try too hard, you’ll probably say the “good” word.
It actually takes you more effort to say the “bad” word, to make the short “ih” sound. So hey, let your accent shine! It’ll actually help you here!
Now what about you?
Have you ever mispronounced sheet, beach, or piece?
Tell us your story, and let’s laugh together in the comments!
More English lessons...
Click the image to see the lesson