What are the different ways to pronounce “ei” in British English?

by | Apr 17, 2023 | Spelling & pronunciation | 0 comments

English is well known for its less-than helpful spelling system. There are many different ways to pronounce the same letters depending on the word they’re in. As a learner of English, you need to memorise a lot of pronunciations.

In this post I want to help you with the “ei” spelling. I’m going to give you a list of words with ei spelling grouped together into different sound groups.

At the bottom of the post you’ll find a link to a video quiz to test how many of these words with “ei” you can confidently pronounce.

  • With the FACE vowel /eɪ/ (like make, day, wait)

Weight, weigh, eight, veil, vein, rein, beige, feint, abseil, reign, neighbour, spontaneity 

  • With the PRICE vowel /aɪ/ (like my, why, island)

Height, feisty, neither/either, heist, kaleidoscope, eider

  • With the FLEECE vowel /iː/ (like sheep, me, people)

Ceiling, seize, caffeine, neither/either, protein, conceive, receive, 

  • With the KIT vowel / ɪ/ (like sing, bit, England)

Forfeit, counterfeit, surfeit, sovereign, sovereignty, 

  • With the DRESS vowel /e/ (like egg, help, head) 

Leisure, Leicester, heifer, 

  • With the NEAR vowel /ɪə/ (like hear, appear, beer)

Weird, weir, 

  • With the SQUARE vowel /e:/ (like care, wear, area)

Their, heir, 

  • Unstressed


Now watch this video to test how much you know about how to pronounce “ei” in British English:

The pronunciations are in the video and the transcriptions are here too:

weight – /weɪt/
seize – /siːz/
forfeit – /ˈfɔː.fɪt/
leisure – /ˈleʒ.ər/
weird – /wɪəd
their – /ðe:/

How many did you get right? Let me know!

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