V e ry

V a ry

Is e and a pronouned the same?

Thank You
It's the following "r" that does it.

Most contexts where orthographically tense a is followed by r, the a is pronounced as a lax e. (American English)

bare, scare, scary, vary, barister, Sara, spare, flare, Laramie, rarely, nefarious, Ariel, Mary, arid, parish

Exception: are !

The contexts where orthographically tense e is followed by r are less predictable, but very falls into the lax group.

very, peril, perish, Eric, there

[The tense group includes sphere, hemisphere, adhere, sere, mere, and here.]

Hmmm...but the two words are not really pronounced in the same way.

If you were to say I was vary cold or I want to very my diet - the sentences would sound nonsensical.

The sounds are very (ha) very close to each other but the a is said with the mouth wider open and is a much longer sound (about 3 times a long as the e). The a is the same sound as the ai in air. If you say vary and airy they are identical apart from the initial v sound. They do not have the same sound as very.

At least they don't when I say them...is this another US v Brit English thing?
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Here, yes.
 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
 nona the brit's reply was promoted to an answer.
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I think this is another US/Brit division.
There are three diphthongs that are found only in British English. American English in corresponding places would have a simple vowel followed by /r/ so vary in BrE is pronounced while in AmE it is either.


That's why I wrote "American English".
There is a region on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. where people make a difference between those two words, but this is not true for the vast majority of Americans.
The pronunciations I cited were all American and correspond to "General American", which is essentially what Chomsky and Halle describe in The Sound Pattern of English.

I don't know of a book that might be considered the British equivalent of the Chomsky and Halle work.