The difference between /æ/ and /ə/

I can’t understand and distinguish the difference between the two sounds /æ/ and /ə/ when it occurs at the beginning of a word.

For example the word apple
Here the sound of a is /æ/

In the word about - ago - alike

The sound of a is /ə/

Please anyone can help me to distinguish between them?

I can produce the same sound of a in all these four words.

Hear this sound.

Well, /ə/ is a schwa, and it usually occurs in unstressed syllables. It is very short, when you produce it your mouth is relaxed and your lips are slightly parted.
/æ/ is usually stressed. It is produced with your mouth open and the corners of the lips are far apart.

Also, for a more accurate and comprehensive explanation with a lot of examples, follow these links:

for /æ/

for /ə/

Hope this helps :))

I just want to understand it more. I hardly understand this woman.
I just don’t know til now when to use the symbol /ə/ when in the middle of the word and in the final position of a word.

Right now I understand this kind of words only that I should use the symbol /ə/
The words that has “er” in the middle or the final position of them like “Father” “Mother” “Brother

That word:

It asked me to transcribe it.
I solved it this way:-


And when I looked it up in Cambridge dictionary online It was /Səpɔːt/

The sound of the letter “u” in the word was /ə/ not /ʌ/

Any help?

I don’t see how we can provide any. The difference is only very, very slight and you are obviously not picking it up.
As you are studying for exams, I don’t suppose it would be any consolation to know that I suspect a lot of native English speakers would use /ʌ/ there too.

You can use this rule of thumb to tell apart /ə/ and /ʌ/:
If the syllable is stressed, it’s “/ʌ/”, if it’s unstressed, then it’s /ə/.

For example, “support”/“above” - the first syllable is unstressed for both, hence:
Or “love”/“oven” - the first syllable is stressed, therefore:

Hope it helps :))

PS: generally speaking, since “ə” occurs in unstressed syllables, it is shorter than “ʌ”. But it takes a lot of practice to develop an ear for hearing the difference, so you won’t learn to differentiate between them overnight - it’ll take a (long) time.