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The diagram below represents the inside of the mouth. 

The vowels towards the left are front vowels. The tip of the tongue pushes forward towards the front of the mouth.

The vowels towards the right are back vowels. The tip of the tongue pulls back.

The vertical axis represents the height of the tongue. The lower the axis, the more open the jaw is. The vowels closer to the roof of the mouth are considered close-vowels, and the vowels lower down are considered open vowels.


Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RP_vowel_chart_(monophthongs).gif





Near-open front unrounded vowel


Near-close near-front unrounded vowel


Near-close near-back rounded vowel

/ɛ/ (/e/)

Open-mid front unrounded vowel


Open back rounded vowel


Near-open central vowel


Mid central vowel





Close front unrounded vowel


Mid central vowel


Mid-back rounded vowel


Close back rounded vowel


Open back unrounded vowel

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