The letters a, e, i, o, and u are vowels. All other letters are consonants.

A short vowel is the counterpart of a long vowel.  So the “a” in gate is long while the “a” in bat is short.


The letters α, ε, η, ι, ο, υ, and ω are vowels.  See also diphthong.

  • ε and ο are always short.
  • η and ω are always long.
  • α and ι can be either.


Study this first or this video. This video shows how to put the consonants and vowels together so that you can read the text.  Here is a comprehensive list of all the vowels.  Full vowels and half vowels are easy to distinguish because full vowels have no sheva in them.  They are often called composite shevas, reduced vowels, or very short vowels.

  • בֲּ hataf-patah
  • בֱּ hataf-segol
  • בֳּ hataf-qamats

Gutturals prefer these kind of vowels to a simple sheva.

If you like, you can study the history of the Hebrew vowel system.