Two-to-Four-Syllable Words with Short Vowels and Schwa

This list can be used to help young readers practice multisyllable words with short vowel sounds and schwa sounds.

What is a schwa? A schwa is a vowel sound in an unstressed syllable, where a vowel does not make its long or short vowel sound. It usually sounds like the short /u/ sound, but is softer and weaker. The schwa sound is the most common vowel sound (and the only speech sound with its own special name). Examples of a schwa:

  • a: balloon
  • e: problem
  • i: family
  • o: bottom
  • u: support
  • y: analysis

Compound words

  • catfish
  • batman
  • sunfish
  • hatbox
  • bathmat
  • upset
  • suntan
  • cobweb
  • bathtub
  • subset
  • bellman
  • catnip
  • shellfish
  • nutshell
  • cannot
  • trashcan
  • gunship
  • sunlit
  • hotbed
  • setup
  • pitfall
  • shotgun
  • within
  • hubcap
  • sunbath
  • bedpan
  • catnap
  • backspin

2-syllable words

  • index
  • mascot
  • tennis
  • napkin
  • publish
  • goblin
  • picnic
  • cactus
  • combat
  • attic
  • until
  • public
  • nutmeg
  • album
  • misfit
  • limit
  • punish
  • relish
  • habit
  • finish
  • panic
  • edit
  • cabin
  • solid
  • rocket
  • ticket
  • helmet
  • locket
  • packet
  • kidnap
  • witness
  • campus
  • coffin
  • hectic
  • enrich
  • metric
  • talcum
  • vomit
  • credit
  • profit
  • comic
  • radish
  • banish
  • exam
  • picket
  • vanish
  • jacket
  • magnet
  • basket
  • velvet
  • victim
  • candid
  • unless
  • racket
  • happen
  • polish
  • tonsil
  • punish
  • hiccup
  • plastic
  • insist
  • unfit
  • Turkish
  • lavish
  • robin
  • expand
  • diminish
  • pelican
  • neglect
  • valid
  • conflict
  • expect

3-syllable words

  • fantastic
  • athletic
  • establish
  • penmanship
  • investment
  • consistent
  • misconduct
  • basketball
  • inhabit
  • astonish
  • Atlantic
  • magnetic
  • cosmetics
  • imprison
  • inexact
  • congressman
  • craftsmanship
  • Wisconsin
  • volcanic
  • Cadillac
  • columnist
  • disinfect
  • admonish
  • accomplish
  • enchanted
  • abandon
  • badminton
  • subcontract
  • disgusted
  • inhibit
  • halibut
  • discontent
  • punishment
  • snapdragon
  • quintuplet
  • inhabit
  • maximum
  • enrichment
  • Washington
  • malignant
  • hesitant
  • classical
  • helplessness
  • minimum
  • invalid
  • capital
  • Thanksgiving
  • dependent
  • sediment

4-syllable words

  • establishment
  • inconsistent
  • calisthenics
  • anesthetic
  • accomplishment
  • disinfectant
  • transatlantic
  • continental
  • academic
  • unexpected
  • disenchanted
Linda Farrell, Reading Rockets (2020)

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