This thread has now been locked because the discussion of whether or not "W" is a vowel has already been thoroughly discussed.

- Moderator
 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10
It is probably part of a particular way of teaching reading. I wouldn't get too excited about it.

Strictly speaking, we can never see vowels, so that "W" sitting there on the page is not a vowel and neither is this "A". We can only hear vowels. Vowels are sounds. Loosely speaking, the vowel letters A, E, I, O, and U are often called vowels. "Y" and "W" may or may not be included among the vowels, depending on the teaching method.

The typical sound we make (in English) when we see the letter "W" is called either a semi-vowel, a semi-consonant, or a glide. The same terminology can be used to describe the sound of "Y" in the word "Yes". The sound of the "Y" is a front glide related to the sound "EE" (bee) and the sound of the "W" is a back glide related to the sound "OO" (boo).

A good reason to include Y and W as vowels (vowel letters, actually) is that they pair with other vowel letters to create digraphs which have characteristic sounds. "AY", "EY", "OY", "AW", "EW", "OW". But when not at the end of a word, these are "AI", "EI", "OI", "AU", "EU", "OU". (Of course there are exceptions. That's how English is!) Because Y and I form a pair that substitute for each other, and W and U also, it's not such a bad idea to include both when introducing the concept to children.

Hope that helps! Emotion: smile
Yes, there are two words in the english language that use the letter "w" as a vowel.

The first is "cwm" pronounced "coom" which is the basin at the bottom of a mountain sometimes containing a lake and the other is "crwth" which is an ancient celtic musical instrument. Hope this answers your question.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Yes but these two are really Welsh; used in English as we have no equivalent word, in the way that we also have words from many other languages.
in addition to what others have said, the distinction between vowel and consonant is not clear cut. no dividing line. /w/, the sound at the beginning of words like 'witch', 'wear' and 'walk', is both vowel- and consonant-like.

when you look at how it's produced, pronunciation, it is similar to /u:/, the vowel in 'moon', except the tongue's a bit lower and further back and the lips are slightly closer together. still, there's very little obstruction of air flow.

when you look at how it patterns, its distribution, the places it occurs in words, it seems subject to the constraints of consonants. how often does the sound at the beginning of 'walk' occur before anything but a vowel?

in linguistics speak, phonetically it's vowel-like, phonemically it's consonant-like.

i guss its a vowel i never new that until my kids told me.
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Good thread. My friends and I were just arguing over whether W is a vowel or a consonant. Reply #2 disproved both sides, which is good to know that there's a middle ground.
The letter 'w' is not a vowel in English language. Only a, e, i, o, u are vowels.

Yoong Liat
i guss its a vowel i never new that until my kids told me

Allow me to correct your sentence. I hope you'll not be offended. I believe this is one of the ways to learn English.

I guess it's a vowel. I never knew that until my kids told me so.

Yoong Liat
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Show more