The following tables show the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and the English pronunciation (enPR) or American Heritage Dictionary (AHD) symbols that are used to represent the various sounds of the English language. The sounds of Received Pronunciation (RP, UK), General American pronunciation (GenAm, US), Canadian English (CanE), Australian English (AuE), and New Zealand English (NZE) are shown.
For a fuller list of dialects, see International Phonetic Alphabet chart for English dialects.
Non-rhotic dialects (RP, Australia, New Zealand) do not pronounce what was historically a syllable-final r; instead they have a schwa (/ə/ or, in NZ, /ɘ/), centering diphthong (ending in /ə̯/), or a long vowel (ending in ː). In addition to pronouncing syllable-final r, the rhotic dialects (General American and Canadian) do not have a vowel length distinction, so none of their vowels end in the length symbol ː.
|IPA||enPR / AHD||examples|
|ɑː||ɑ||ɒ, ɑ||ɐː||ä||father, palm|
|ɑː||ɑɹ||ɐː||är||arm, bard, starry|
|æ, a||æ||ɛ||ă||bad, cat, ran|
|æɹ||æɹ, ɛɹ||ɛɹ||æɹ||ɛɹ||ăr||carry, marry, paragraph|
|eɪ||æe, ae||ā||day, pain, hey, weight|
|ɛː, ɛə||eɹ, ɛɚ||ɛɹ||eː||iə, eə||âr||hair, there, fairy, vary, Mary|
|ɛ||e, ɛ||ɪ, e||ĕ||bed, egg, meadow|
|ɛɹ||eɹ||ĕr||very, error, merry|
|iː||i||iː, ɪi||iː, ɘi||ē||ease, see, siege, ceiling|
|ɪə, ɪː||ɪɚ, ɪɹ||iɹ||ɪə, ɪː||iə, iːə, eə||îr||near, here, serious|
|ɪ, i||i||(ē)||city, everyday, mania, geography|
|ɪ||ɘ||ĭ||sit, city, bit, will|
|ɪ||ə||ɘ||(ĭ)||roses, spotted, secure|
|aɪ||aɪ (ʌɪ)||ɑɪ||ī||my, rice, pie, hi, Mayan|
|ɒ||ɑ||ɒ, ɑ||ɔ, ɒ||ŏ||not, wasp, boss, moth|
|ɒɹ, ɔɹ||ɑɹ||ɔɹ||ɔɹ, ɒɹ||ŏr||borrow, sorry, sorrow, tomorrow, (morrow)|
|ɔɹ||horror, forest, orange, quarrel, warrior|
|əʊ||oʊ||əʉ, ɐʉ||ɐʉ||ō||no, go, hope, know, toe|
|ʊ||o͝o, ŏŏ||put, foot, wolf|
|ʊə||ʊɹ, ʊɚ||ʊə||ʉə,ʉːə, oː||o͝or, ŏŏr||tour, tourism, stoor|
|uː||u||ʉː||o͞o, ōō||lose, soon, through|
|aʊ||æɔ||æʊ||ou||house, now, tower|
|ʌ||ɐ||ŭ||run, enough, up, other|
|ɜː||ɝ||ɜː||ɵː||ûr||fur, blurry, bird, swerve|
|ə||ɘ||ə||Rosa's, about, oppose|
|ə||ɚ||ə||ɘ, ɐ||ər||winner, enter, error, doctor|
- ^ RP /æ/ is sometimes transcribed /a/, for example in dictionaries of the Oxford University Press.
- ^ See bad–lad split for more discussion of the vowel /æ/ in Australian English.
- In many accents in the United States and most accents in Canada, some or all of the vowels of Mary, marry, and merry are merged (the Mary–marry–merry merger). If all three are merged, the resulting vowel is usually transcribed /ɛɹ/. In accents that distinguish all three, marry has /æɹ/, merry has /ɛɹ/, and Mary has /eɹ/.
- ^ An older alternative symbol to RP /ɛː/ is /eə/, reflecting the mid height of the vowel in earlier RP, and the fact that it was a centring diphthong.
- RP in the early 20th century had five centring diphthongs /ɑə/, /eə/, /ɪə/, /ɔə/, /ʊə/. Of these, /ɔə/ formerly contrasted with a long vowel /ɔː/. All of them are now generally pronounced as long monophthongs (pure vowels) /ɑː/, /ɔː/, /ɛː/, /ɪː/, /ɵː/ (monophthongization). However, many words that formerly had /ʊə/ (= /ɵː/) are now pronounced with /ɔː/. /ɑə/ monophthongized first, very early in the 20th century, then /ɔə/, and more recently the rest.
- ^ /ɛ/ is sometimes transcribed /e/ for RP—for example, in the Collins English Dictionary.
- ^ For RP, /aɪ/ is also transcribed (e.g. by Oxford University Press) as /ʌɪ/
- ^ Only the words borrow, sorry, sorrow, tomorrow, and, for some speakers, morrow, and words derived from these.
- This sequence only occurs before another vowel. In some American English dialects, such as eastern coastal American English, the /ɒɹ/ in forest and origin doesn't merge with /ɔːɹ/ (such as in horse and north), unlike General American. See Mergers of /ɒɹ-/ and /ɔːɹ-/ for more details.
- ^ Excluding the words borrow, sorry, sorrow, tomorrow, and, for some speakers, morrow, and words derived from these.
- ^ For RP, /əː/ is sometimes used as an alternative to /ɜː/—for example, in dictionaries of the Oxford University Press.
- /ɝ/ and /ɚ/ are not actually phonemically distinct in General American and Canadian English, but are transcribed this way for consistency with the Received Pronunciation transcription system. /əɹ/ is perhaps a more accurate phonemic transcription for both—for example, the Merriam–Webster Dictionary uses /ər/ as an alternative to both /ɝ/ and /ɚ/.
In order to allow Module:syllables to count syllables, the disyllabic sequence /iə/ must be transcribed with a period to mark the syllable break – /i.ə/ – so that it will not be confused with the New Zealand diphthong /iə/.
/ɹ/ in the vowel plus /ɹ/ sequences is sometimes replaced with /ɚ/: /ðɛɚ/ instead of /ðɛɹ/. In order to keep Module:syllables from counting /ɚ/ as a syllable, add the non-syllabic diacritic: /ðɛɚ̯/.
|IPA||enPR / AHD||examples|
|b||b||but, web, rubble|
|t͡ʃ||ch||chat, teach, nature|
|d||d||dot, idea, nod|
|f||f||fan, left, enough, photo|
|d͡ʒ||j||joy, agile, age|
|x||ᴋʜ||loch (in Scottish English)|
|m||m||man, animal, him|
|m̩ (əm)||m||spasm, prism|
|n||n||note, ant, pan|
|p||p||pen, spin, top, apple|
|s||s||set, list, ice|
|ʃ||sh||ash, sure, ration|
|θ||th||thin, nothing, moth|
|ð||th||this, father, clothe|
|z||z||zoo, quiz, rose|
- ^ Some phonologists dispute that /ʍ/ is a distinct phoneme in English, and use /hw/ instead.
- Some phonologists dispute that /l̩/, /n̩/, /m̩/ are distinct phonemes in English, and use /əl/, /ən/, /əm/ instead.
- ^ Often written /r/, especially in works that cover only English, even though the sound is not a trill. For further information, see Pronunciation of English /r/.
Fortis and lenis
The so-called voiceless and voiced obstruents are more properly fortis and lenis. Each member of a fortis–lenis pair is distinguished from the other by various articulatory and auditory features, but not consistently by voicing or lack of it.
In most dialects of English, the fortis (voiceless) stops and affricate /p t tʃ k/ are always voiceless, and are aspirated ([pʰ tʰ tʃʰ kʰ]) at the beginning of a word and at the beginning of a stressed syllable: for example, RP today [tʰəˈdeɪ], chain [tʃʰeɪn] and account [əˈkʰaʊnt]. Vowels and sonorants immediately preceding syllable final fortis obstruents are usually pronounced shorter than before lenis obstruents, as in bet vs. bed and bent vs. bend. This phenomenon is known as pre-fortis clipping.
The lenis (voiced) stops and affricate /b d dʒ ɡ/ are always unaspirated. Lenis obstruents /b v ð d z dʒ ʒ ɡ/ are often devoiced at the beginning or end of words, but are fully voiced between voiced vowels and sonorants.
The fortis–lenis distinction is neutralized in a few cases.
Initial consonant clusters consisting of /s/ and a stop (as in spill, still, skill) are typically analyzed as having a fortis stop, which agrees with the spelling, but may equally well be analyzed as having a lenis stop (i.e., *sbill, *sdill, *sgill). The stop is both voiceless and unaspirated, and there is no additional phonetic feature that establishes it as either fortis or lenis.
In addition, some dialects have a sound change known as intervocalic alveolar flapping, in which /t d/ are both pronounced as an alveolar flap [ɾ] between vowels or liquids and when not at the beginning of a stressed syllable. Further, in American English, /nt/ between vowels may be pronounced as a nasalized alveolar flap, [ɾ̃]. The fortis stop /t/ loses its distinctive voicelessness, and essentially becomes lenis. Flapping causes latter and ladder to both be pronounced as [ˈɫæɾɚ], and causes winter to be pronounced as [ˈwɪɾ̃ɚ], similar to winner [ˈwɪ̃nɚ].
A stress mark is placed before the syllable that is stressed in IPA and after it in enPR / AHD.
|ˈ (ˈa)||ʹ (aʹ)||primary stress, as in rapping /ˈɹæpɪŋ/|
|ˌ (ˌa)||' (a')||secondary stress when before the primary stress;|
unstressed full vowel when after the primary stress, as in battlefield (phonetically [ˈbætəlˌfiːld], phonologically /ˈbætəlfiːld/)
|a.a||a-a||division between syllables|
|̩||syllabic consonant, as in ridden [ˈɹɪdn̩]|
|ʔ||glottal stop, as in uh-oh /ˈʌʔoʊ/, [ˈʌ̆ʔ˦oʊ˨]|
|̃ (ã)||nasalization, as in croissant /ˈkɹwæsɒ̃/|
Note: The EnPR and print AHD marks are formatted slightly differently. Online, AHD writes both ', though they do not always represent the same phoneme.
- Gimson, A. C. (1980) An Introduction to the Pronunciation of English, 3rd edn. edition, London: Edward Arnold, →ISBN
- Kenyon, John Samuel (1950) American Pronunciation, 10th edn. edition, Ann Arbor: George Wahr
- Kenyon, John S.; Thomas A. Knott (1944/1953) A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English, Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, →ISBN
- Wells, J. C. (2000) Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, 2nd edn. edition, Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited, →ISBN
- Learning the IPA for English, (Standard American English)
- IPA chart with AIFF sound files for IPA symbols
- IPA chart with MP3 sound files for all IPA symbols on the chart (limited version is available to anyone)
- The International Phonetic Alphabet (revised to 2005) Symbols for all languages are shown on this one-page chart.
- lexconvert a GPL command-line program to convert between Unicode IPA and the ASCII notations of various English speech synthesizers