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Why are vowels the most important letters in the alphabet?

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With seven different vowel sounds and as the first letter of the alphabet, A is often associated with the best. It’s not that interested in numbers—count from one to one thousand and count the As—and it’s really fun to say.

A at the apex
E, the most-used letter in the alphabet, is in 11% of all the words we use. It’s the only vowel in ‘the,’ our most-used word, and it makes writing in past-tense possible.

Always capitalized on its own, I is the first word in the shortest complete sentence in the English language: I am. This ninth letter of the alphabet is also all about action; it’s essential to making, playing, working, running, jumping, kissing, laughing, talking, eating, drinking, spilling, singing, dancing, taking selfies, and so much more.

Selfie while making a kissing face
This BBC Ideas animation by Mark Grist and Paper Rhino shares one take on why vowels are the most important letters in the alphabet. The narration continues:

“The letter O is the one that appears the most in other languages. Even ones that developed completely independently of each other. The shape of the letter O mirrors the shape of your mouth as you make the sound, and it’s thought that’s why it appears in so many different languages.”

And then there’s U, the abbreviation for University and the you in ‘I love you.’ This letter makes ‘unpleasant words’ possible… um, like disgusting, insulting, crude, repugnant, and ruthless, naturally. Letter U is also the only one that empowers the letter Q in the English language.

But U is a multifunctional letter, too. Watch this next: What Sounds Can “U” Make?

Plus, more videos about letters and words:
Is “R” a Vowel?
• How To Use ‘NG’ in Words
• What does OK stand for?
• Where do new words come from?
Popular Words Invented by Authors

Bonus: Colorscope, an exploration of color across cultures.

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