3. /ɪ:/ and /ɪ/

Let’s look at the pronunciation of the vowel sounds /ɪ:/ and /ɪ/ and compare them as they are easily confused.

How do we form the /ɪ/ sound? The lips are relaxed, in a neutral position, and the central/front area of the tongue is in the middle of the mouth. The sound is a short burst.

/iː/ is long and tense. Its beginning is not identical to /ɪ/. The tongue raises slightly, but doesn’t touch the roof of the mouth.  Observe in the video how my mouth shape changes. My mouth is widened.


Common spellings of /ɪ/

i: fish, kill, win, 

y: physical, typical, gym


Some uncommon spellings:

e: England - English - pretty

u: business - busy

ui: build - guilt

o: women

ie: mischievous, sieve

a: - spinach, average, outage

ia: - carriage, marriage


Example Practice Sentences:

  1. If Mick didn’t buy lettuce can you tell him to visit the market?
  2. I dislike skimmed milk in my hot drink - it makes it too thin.
  3. Which business will win the contract with the big investor?
  4. Jim is selling his pink mini which is in mint condition.
  5. I think Mindy is going to give an emotional report on the results of the investigation


Common spellings of /ɪ:/:

e - even, theme, metre

ee - green, sheep, creep

ea - leaf, read, tea

ie - piece, field, 

ei - receive, seize,

i - litre, kilo, police


anomalies - people, quay, anaemic, key


Practice Sentences

  1. We need to have a team meeting to discuss the legal proceedings
  2. At twenty past three I have to meet my niece to practice her speech.
  3. If she keeps teaching such easy and meaningless lessons I will have to see the Dean.
  4. Unfortunately, I never received a receipt and the jeans are too roomy for me.
  5. Studies show that if one believes they can achieve their dreams, they are more likely to succeed.



Now, let’s take a look at some minimal pairs.


/ɪ/ /ɪ:/

bin bean

his he’s

slip sleep

chick cheek

tis tease



Finally, let’s practice some sentences with both sounds


  1. The steep increase in prices in the supermarkets mean that many families eat sugar-rich foods.
  2. If you want some peace and tranquility you can visit the secret, hidden library.
  3. The movie was about a hippie in the early seventies who wanted to have a family.
  4. Employees are expected to carry identification certificates with them when they leave the building.
  5. She said every evening that she was very worried about Kim’s silly graffiti habit.