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  3.2.8 Long and short Vowels

In German there are - like in English - long and short vowels. Have a look at these examples.
short vowel   long vowel  
  offen open   Ofen oven  
Ass ace   Aas carrion  
Suppe soup   super super  
Bett bed   Beet flowerbed  
Widder Aries   wieder again  

Do you hear the differences? In the pairs of offen/Ofen, Ass/Aas, Bett/Beet, wieder/Widder there is only one difference, the vowel is either short or long. The meaning is totally different. Therefore it has a certain importance to know the differences. In written language the long and short vowels are marked in certain ways: ie for long i
Wiese meadow
liegen   to lie down
wiegen to weigh

  Be careful! Sometimes a ie is pronounced differently.
Patient patient (person) aa for a long a
Aal eal
  Saal   hall an h after a vowel means it is a long vowel
die Ahnen anscestors
  etwas ahnen   to suspect
  The same with o
ohne without
  Ohr   ear
  The same with e
ehrlich honesto
  Ehre   honor Without any indication
there are many words that do not have any indication whether the vowel is long or short.
Schaf sheep
Laden   shop
Frage question If after the vowel is an ß then the vowel is long (see 3.2.6)
Straße street
Stoß   hit, push
Muße leisure Two consonants after a vowel may indicate a short vowel
immer always
essen   eat
Pass passport
müssen to must

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