English Pronunciation Lesson: How To Pronounce The ‘Short I’ Sound In English

Let’s take a look at the short I sound in English because it’s often difficult for English students to pronounce this sound if it doesn’t exist in their native language.

Here’s what Antonio D says, “I can´t hear the difference between ‘short I’ and ‘short E’. They sound the same to me.”

This is a common problem for English students Portugal or Spain who often confuse the ‘short I’ sound with the ‘short E’ or the ‘long E’

The ‘short I’ is found in words like ‘did’, ‘kiss’, ‘rich’, and ‘sister’.

Or in a sentences like this…

“A kitten sitting in a kitchen!”

It falls somewhere between the ‘long E’ and the ‘short E’ sound.

So, we’re going to compare these sounds with words like:

Ten – Teen – Tin

Can you hear the difference between each one?

How To Pronounce The ‘Short E’, ‘Long E’ And The ‘Short I’ Sound In English

When you say the word ‘ten’…your mouth is open and your tongue is down.

But when you say the word ‘teen’…your mouth closes more and your tongue comes forward and moves up higher.

If you’re saying it correctly…you’ll probably feel the sides of your tongue touching your teeth. Your lips will spread wider like a smile…like when you say ‘Cheese’ for the camera.

Got it?

Now, say ‘ten’ again…and feel your mouth open more as your tongue drops open.

Can you feel that?


So, now say ‘tin’ with me. That’s the ‘short I’ sound.

It falls in between the other two sounds we practiced earlier. The ‘short E’ and the  long E’ sounds.

When you say the word ‘ten’ and then say the word ‘tin’…your mouth closes a bit more and your tongue moves up.

When you say the word ‘teen’ and then say the word ‘tin’…your mouth the sides of your mouth close in a bit…and your tongue moves back a bit.

Do you feel it? It’s very subtle and you probably won’t feel a whole lot of difference.

You might not even hear much of a difference at first. So, that’s why it’s important to practice these sounds.

Your Turn To Practice The ‘Short I’ Sound In English

Go ahead and download the list of words below so you can print them off and follow along with me. That way you can write on it and use it to practice later.

First, I’m going to pronounce the words in the first two columns…with the ‘short E’ and the ‘long E’ sound.

Then, I’m going to say the word with the ‘short I’ sound.

That way you can try to find the sound of the ‘short I’ in between the other two sounds.

ESL Exercise 1: Short I Sound Practice

Ready? Listen and repeat the words with me.

Short E Sound Long E Sound Short I Sound
Bed Bead Bid
Wretch Reach Rich
Left Leafed Lift
Bet Beat Bit
Fell Feel Fill

Great! So, how do you feel? Were you able to find all three sounds in those words?

ESL Exercise 2: Short I Sound Comparisons

Let’s go a little bit deeper and practice comparing the ‘short I’ sound in each word to the other sounds individually.

Just relax and follow along with me. Listen carefully and try to imitate the sounds I’m saying as closely as you can.

Here we go!

Short E Sound Long E Sound Short I Sound
Bed Bead Bid
Wretch Reach Rich
Left Leafed Lift
Bet Beat Bit
Fell Feel Fill

How did you do in that second exercise?

Were you able to mimic all the sounds correctly?

Feel free to go back to listen and practice as many times as you need to.

I’ll be happy to practice with you as long as you want. 😉

ESL Exercise 3: Sentences With The ‘Short E’, ‘Long E’, And ‘Short I’ Sounds

Here are some sample sentences with each of the words that you practiced above.

Listen along as I say them. Then repeat them yourself to practice each of the sounds.

Let’s start with the words ‘Bed’, ‘Bead’, and ‘Bid’.

  • He sleeps on a big bed
  • The necklace has many yellow beads
  • They placed a bid at the auction
  • John and Mary bid on the bed of beads

Now let’s practice with ‘Wretch’, Reach, and ‘Rich’

  • She tried to reach the keys
  • My father-in-law was a wretch after the stock market crashed
  • Ellen is a very rich woman
  • The wretch wanted to reach out to his rich father for help

Here are some more sentences for you with ‘left’, leafed’ and ‘lift’.

  • Joe left after the game
  • I leafed through the book carefully
  • You can’t lift that heavy box
  • Mary leafed through the books but left them because she couldn’t lift the whole box

And some more with the words ‘Bet’, ‘Beat’, and ‘Bit’.

  • He placed a bet on the horse race
  • That song has a fast beat
  • They drank a bit of paint to see what it tasted like
  • They bet a good bit of money that the driver would beat the horse

Finally, we’ll wrap up with this group of words ‘Fell’, ‘Feel’, and ‘Fill’

  • Allen fell off the horse
  • I feel sick
  • Can you fill this up for me, please
  • If you feel sorry for him, fill up the jar for the boy who fell off the horse

Excellent job going through each of those sentences.

Just keep listening and practicing.

Little by little your English pronunciation skills will improve, and you’ll reduce your accent.

30 Minimal Pairs To Practice The ‘Short I’ Sound in English

Here are more words with each of the ‘short E’, ‘long E’, and ‘short I’ sounds.

I’m not going to try to teach you all of them here now, because this video would be huge.

But if you feel like you want more help with the ‘short I’ sound…let me know so I can record another video to help you practice this sound more.

Meantime, you can download this list to print off and practice with.

Short E Sound Long E Sound Short I Sound
Bed Bead Bid
Been Bean Bin
Bend Beaned Binned
Bet Beat Bit
Check Cheek Chick
Chet Chit Cheat
Crept Creeped Crypt
Dead Deed Did
Dell Deal Dill
Den Dean Din
Depp Deep Dip
Etch Each Itch
Fell Feel Fill
Head Heed Hid
Hell Heal Hill
Jen Gene Gin
Ken Keen Kin
Net Neat Knit
Led Lead Lid
Left Leafed Lift
Lest Least List
Leapt Leaped Lipped
Med Mead Mid
Met Meet Mitt
Peck Peek Pick
Pet Peat Pit
Sell Seal Sill
Set Seat Sit
Teal Tell Till
Ten Teen Tin
Wretch Reach Rich

Alright! Last, but not least…let’s take a quick quiz to see if you’ve mastered the ‘short I’ sound.

ESL Quiz: Short E vs. Short I vs. Long E Sounds

I’m going to show you a set of 3 words, and I’m going to say one of them.

Your mission is to pick which of the 3 words I’m saying whether the ‘short I’, the short E’, or the ‘long I’.

If you guess correctly, you get a point. If not, you give me a point.

Keep track and tell me who won in the comments.

Here we go!

Bed                        Bead                      Bid

Wretch                 Reach                    Rich

Left                        Leafed                  Lift

Bet                         Beat                       Bit

Fell                         Feel                       Fill

Bed                        Bead                      Bid

Wretch                 Reach                    Rich

Left                        Leafed                  Lift

Bet                         Beat                       Bit

Fell                        Feel                       Fill

Bed                        Bead                      Bid

Wretch                 Reach                    Rich

Left                        Leafed                  Lift

Bet                         Beat                       Bit

Fell                         Feel                       Fill

How did you do out of 15 points? Tell me in the comments below.

Also, let me know how you are with the ‘short I’ sound. Do you want to practice this sound some more, or was this enough.

If you want me to record another video with the rest of the ‘short I’ sounds…leave a comment.

Or if this video was good, and you want me to record another lesson about something else…then let me know too.

Because I don’t want to waste time making videos you don’t need.

Meantime, here are some…

More Youtube Videos about the ‘Short I’ Sound

More Resources about the ‘Short I’ Sound

Extra ESL Books & Pronunciation Programs

And don’t forget that you can download our PDFs and MP3 English mini-stories, lessons, and dialogue in the VIP English Club

These are the same lessons that we created for English students here locally…and now we’re making them available online.

If you want to test out some of these mini-stories to see what they’re like…sign up for our free lessons first here

Remember to like the video and subscribe to the channel for updates.

And please feel free to share the video with your family and friends.

I really appreciate you helping us spread the word to other people who want to learn English.

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Well folks! That’s all for now.

Thanks for watching and have a great day.

And like my old Uncle Claude used to say, “Be careful out there…and don’t get into nothing you can’t get out of.”

See you around!

More English Learning Resources

VIP English Club – Want more English lessons and exercises? Check out the mini-stories, lessons, and dialogues that we’ve created for our English students. Now, we are sharing them with you online too.

Ship or Sheep by Ann Baker  – Intermediate pronunciation book with minimal pair vocabulary words, stories, and dialogues to help you master difficult sounds in English to improve your pronunciation and reduce your accent.

Tree or Three by Ann Baker – Another book by the same author of Ship or Sheep…but this time for Basic English students who want to improve their pronunciation as well.

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