Letter E Sound


The letter /e/ is second vowel in the English alphabet, and is important for students when blending words, as it appears in English quite often. However, the letter e sound can be harder for students, as the sound is not easily remembered and harder to pronounce. Therefore, be sure to focus more time on repeating the /e/ sound and when blending new words.

Checkout our list of phonics books if you need more help with the letter e sound.

Letter e sound Phonics Pronunciation

The /e/ sound is often taught to students as cracking an egg and saying the eh-eh-eh. Focus on the word egg, and repeat it as much as possible, for student to understand the /e/ sound in the word egg. This sound is a short vowel sound which cannot be elongated. This is very important as many students will confuse this with the long /ee/ sound, as when saying the letter /e/ name. The /e/ sound is made as a relatively relaxed sound, with the middle of the tongue a bit upwards while lightly touching the bottom and top side teeth. 

Don’t be discouraged if your students often forget this sound, as many students often mistake it with the /ee/ sound. Just repeat, repeat, repeat, and your students will eventually remember the /e/ sound well. You can also go back to refer to the word “egg”, and make some fun by saying its not pronounced like “eeeegg”, its “egg”.

Watch a video on the letter e sound and how its pronounced.

The sounds /a/ vs /e/

Many students and even adults get the /a/ and /e/ sounds confused, as they are very similar in pronunciation. To better understand the sounds, with the /a/ sound your tongue should be flatter and touching the lower teeth. With the /e/ sound, the tongue is slightly more raised and touching the top of the lower teeth. Also your mouth with the letter /a/ is a bit wider, and more tense than with the letter /e/. 

You can try with some common words such as bad vs. bed, pan vs pen, ten vs tan. Notice the difference in the position of your tongue and shape of your mouth as you pronounce the /a/ and /e/. Try to understand the difference in pronunciation and the positioning of the mouth and tongue, and try to use this to help teach the students. It make take some time to understand the sounds and how to teach them, so more examples and words will help them know the differences.

Visual hints

With the /e/ sound being a bit harder to copy, you can show them by opening your mouth when you say the eh-eh-eh sound. You can also emphasize the tense, short sound when opening your mouth. Also incorporate the cracking egg motion when saying the /e/ sound. 

Another idea for the shape of the letter /e/, is to use your closed fist and turn it to the side so the students see your curled fingers, as this looks like the lowercase letter /e/. This will also help them visualize when writing the letter /e/. 

Handwriting Help with letter /e/

The letter /e/ can be difficult for some students, as they struggle to remember as the differences in the uppercase /E/ and lowercase /e/. As these letters have different shapes, similar to the letter /a/, it is good for your student to practice both the circular motion and straight motion with their hands. To practice, we suggest to start writing the letter /c/, as this is the basis for this letter. Once the student remembers the letter /c/ well, you can teach them to start in the middle, and extend the line to finish the letter /c/. Be sure to practice this a lot, and you can incorporate the visual hints for a curled fist incase they get confused. You can also checkout some ABC books to help with this.

For the uppercase /E/, most students have an easier time to remember how to write this letter, as it consists only of 4 straight lines. Also if they are familiar with writing Chinese characters, as is the case in Hong Kong, it will be easier for them to write 3 strokes from top to bottom. If they have a hard time writing straight lines, they may be too young to have developed strong hand muscles or proper pencil gripping techniques. We suggest them to practice some exercises to strengthen their muscles such as paper crumpling, playing with play-doh or water spraying. You can also have them practice tracing straight lines with their fingers for the younger students. You may also incorporate arranging items in a straight line for the young ones struggling to identify straight lines.

Activity hints

As with teaching the phonics sound of /e/, you can pretend to crack an egg and say the e-e-e sound with the students. For the younger ones, you can be more creative and pretend you are an elephant. Make a long nose with your arms, and say e-e-elephant. You can even make elephant noises too, but always try to come back and repeat e-e-elephant.

Letter /e/ Blending

The letter /e/ is an important sound as it is normally one of the first vowels taught to students, so it will be used often in blending words. However, for students it is often the second hardest vowel to remember and say (the letter /u/ being the hardest), so you should also be sure to spend plenty of time repeating the /e/ sound. You can remind them of how to say egg, and the shortness of the /e/ sound in the word.

After the students can repeat the /e/ sound and recognize the letter, you can move onto using the /e/ with various consonants in blending. Try to start off with only 2 letter blends such as -et, -te, -es, -se, -ec, -ce and so on. Once they are comfortable with these sounds, you can move onto the three letter CVC words. You can spend more time on blending the /e/ sound, as it will appear alot in words, and can be hard for students when they move onto listening.

With the CVC blending words, you can choose from a variety of words with the /e/ sound that are familiar to the students, such as b-e-d, l-e-g, t-e-n, y-e-s, and p-e-t. Be sure to practice these more, and you can even repeat the words and have the students try to write it. An extra activity could be to choose 2 similar words with the letter /a/ & /e/, and see if the students can correctly identify them, such as bed & bad. This will be important for their listening and spelling later on, as these two letters /a/ & /e/ sound very similar for students.

Checkout our Top 25 phonics books for reading letters

Everyday English

Once the students have memorized the /e/ sound and are able to blend the CVC words well, you can move onto teaching them everyday English words to help them remember. Remember to make sure they have a strong understanding of this before you move on. After all, they are learning English, with starts with the letter /e/!

As many words have /e/ in the middle, you can start with some common words with /e/ in the beginning such as Egg, Elephant, Eight.

As there are many combinations of e + consonant, you can try to make words with them.

You can use same sound rhymes to help with this sound, such as red, bed, led, ted.

Another sound rhyme with the letter /e/ are the words set, met, let, bet.

Letter /e/ sentence reading

After learning how to say and blend words with the letter /e/, it’s good to introduce basic sentences to the children to read. These sentences are meant to be basic for students learning the alphabet letters and phonics as their second language.

Here are some short sentences you can read together with the students.

Ten eggs.

A red pen.

I set the bed.

I get a pen.

Yes, I have a pet.

It’s important your students practice reading short sentences, so they gain the confidence and can practice their blending skills. Therefore, encourage your students to read these sentences to improve their phonics and blending with the letter /e/ !

Letter e tongue twisters

The letter /e/ tongue twister can be quite difficult to say, so get ready for some challenges sentences for your tongue!

Edward elephant eats exciting eggs

Wet led, let wed, wet led wed

Set wet pets on the wet red deck

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