Are there any other words that are spelled with "a" but pronounced with the standard phoneme /e/ in Received Pronunciation like many, any?

Exceptions: derivatives of any (anything, anyone, anytime, etc.); other regional/dialectal mergers (such as the Mary-marry-merry merger); /eər/ as in Mary.

  • There are care/carry and fare. I guess the vowel e or y changes the sound. May 18, 2016 at 4:42
  • @Spehro Pefhany care is pronounced /keər/ which I already excluded. carry is pronounced /kæri/ in Received Pronunciation. May 18, 2016 at 12:57
  • @Sven Yargs separate is pronounced with two schwas, not "short "e" sound", which is totally irrelevant. May 18, 2016 at 12:57

1 Answer 1


Some people (including me) have /ɛ/ in catch (this is listed as the second pronunciation by Merriam-Webster) although for me the vowel in this word is more variable than the one in many and any (I might say /kætʃ/, while I would never say /æni/).

The past tense of eat, which is standardly spelled "ate," may be pronounced /ɛt/ (see this map from the Cambridge Online Survey of World Englishes). This is only present in the accents of certain regions; I think it is more common in the UK than in North America.

Some people pronounce pall-mall as /pɛlmɛl/ (American Heritage Dictionary) although alternate spellings that fit this pronunciation better do exist, such as "paille-maille" and "pell-mell."

Place names often have unintuitive spellings; one place name spelled with "a" but pronounced with /ɛ/ is the River Thames /tɛmz/ (Oxford Dictionaries).

Loanwords also are often spelled according to different patterns. The German word Doppelgänger is often used in English with the spelling doppelganger; even when the umlaut on the a is dropped, the vowel may still be pronounced as /ɛ/.

  • Just found marshmallow ("marshmellow"). Jul 15, 2016 at 10:39

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