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

Student writing on smart board

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
  • 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
  • diminish
  • pelican

4-syllable words

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

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Comments

These lists have been very helpful. With your permission I’d like to use samples to integrate them to my lesson plans.

I will use the materials for remedial teaching of my Grade 2 pupils

Great resource.
Can you tell me what American dialect these are based on? Working with my Spaniard wife to develop a neutral American dialect. I see examples that don’t fit with a mid-west dialect. [Catfish, pitfall, - actually a lot- comic, profit, coffin, are pronounced as “short I.”

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