Is it common to pronounce "a" as [eɪ] not [ə] even though "a" is not used before vowel?
Great question! Normally, "a" is pronounced with a long vowel [ə] unless it is used before a vowel sound, in which it is almost always pronounced with a short vowel [eɪ]". However, American English speakers don't always follow this rule like other English speakers. For example, the word "the" is often pronounced as [eɪ] with a short vowel when emphasizing something, even if "the" doesn't come before a vowel sound. Ex: This is a [eɪ] picture of myself. Ex: Could you hand me a [eɪ] pen, please?
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