Help:IPA/English

Throughout Wikipedia, the pronunciation of words is indicated by means of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The following tables list the IPA symbols used for English words and pronunciations. Please note that several of these symbols are used in ways that are specific to Wikipedia and differ from those used by dictionaries.

If the IPA symbols are not displayed properly by your browser, see the links below.

If you are adding a pronunciation using this key, such pronunciations should generally be formatted using the template {{IPAc-en}}. The template provides tooltips for each symbol in the pronunciation. See the template page for instructions.

Key[]

If the words given as examples for two different symbols sound the same to you (for example, if you pronounce cot and caught the same, or do and dew, or marry and merry), you can pronounce those symbols the same in explanations of all words. The footnotes explain some of these mergers. (See also Dialect variation below.)

If there is an IPA symbol you are looking for that you do not see here, see Help:IPA, which is a more complete list. For a table listing all spellings of the sounds on this page, see English orthography § Sound-to-spelling correspondences. For help converting spelling to pronunciation, see English orthography § Spelling-to-sound correspondences.

Consonants
IPA Examples
b buy, cab
d dye, cad, ladder[1]
dj dew[2]
giant, badge
ð thy, breathe, father
f fan, caff
ɡ (ɡ)[3] guy, bag
h high, ahead
hw why[4]
j[5] yes, hallelujah
k sky, crack
l lie, sly, gal[6]
lj lute[2]
m my, smile, cam
n nigh, snide, can
nj new[2]
ŋ sang, sink, singer
p pie, spy, cap
r[7] rye, try, very
s sigh, mass
sj consume[2]
ʃ shy, cash, emotion
t tie, sty, cat, latter[1]
tj tune[2]
China, catch
θ thigh, math
θj enthuse[2]
v vie, have
w wye, swine
z zoo, has
zj Zeus[2]
ʒ pleasure, vision, beige[8]
 
Marginal segments
IPA Examples
x ugh, loch, Chanukah[9]
ʔ uh-oh /ˈʔʌʔoʊ/
ɒ̃ bon vivant[10]
æ̃ fin de siècle[10]
ɜː Möbius (UK only)[11]
Vowels
Full vowels ...followed by R[12]
IPA Examples IPA Examples
ɑː PALM, bra ɑːr START, star
ɒ LOT, pod, John, blockade[13] ɒr moral, forage[14]
æ TRAP, pad, tattoo[15] ær barrow, marry[16]
PRICE, ride, pie[17] aɪər Ireland, hire[18]
aɪ.ər higher, buyer[19]
MOUTH, loud, down, how[17] aʊər flour[18]
aʊ.ər flower[19]
ɛ DRESS, bet, prestige[20] ɛr error, merry[16]
FACE, made, fail, vein, pay ɛər SQUARE, mare, scarce, cairn, Mary[16][21]
eɪər player[19]
ɪ KIT, lid, historic[22] ɪr mirror, Sirius
FLEECE, seed, mean, pedigree, idea[23] ɪər NEAR, beard, fierce, serious[21]
iːər freer
GOAT, code, go, foal[24][22] oʊər mower
ɔː THOUGHT, Maud, dawn, fall, straw[25] ɔːr NORTH, FORCE, horse, hoarse, aural[25][26][27]
ɔːər sawer
ɔɪ CHOICE, void, boy ɔɪər coir[18]
ɔɪ.ər employer[19]
ʊ FOOT, good, full ʊr courier
GOOSE, food, tissue, cruel[23] ʊər boor, moor, tourist, CURE (/ˈkjʊər/)[21][27]
uːər truer
ʌ STRUT, bud, untidy, justiciable[28][29] ɜːr NURSE, word, girl, fern, furry, Berlin[30]
ʌr hurry, nourish[31]
Weak vowels
IPA Examples IPA Examples
ə COMMA, focus, addition, abbot ər LETTER, perceive, history[32]
ɪ edition, rabbit, Latin, heating[22][33] motto, retroactive, follower[22][34]
i HAPPY, mediocre (either /iː/ or /ɪ/)[35] serious, California (either /iːə/, /ɪ.ə/, or /jə/)[36]
u fruition (either /uː/ or /ʊ/)[34][35] influence (either /uːə/, /ʊ.ə/, or /wə/)[37]
Syllabic consonants[32]
IPA Examples IPA Examples
əl bottle (either [əl] or [l̩]) ən button (either [ən] or [n̩])
əm rhythm (either [əm] or [m̩])
 
Stress Syllabification
IPA Examples IPA Examples
ˈ intonation /ˌɪntəˈneɪʃən/ . /ˈhaɪər/ hire, /ˈhaɪ.ər/ higher[38]
/ˈtæks.peɪər/ taxpayer
ˌ

Notes

Dialect variation[]

This key represents diaphonemes, abstractions of speech sounds that accommodate General American, Received Pronunciation (RP) and to a large extent also Australian, Canadian, Irish (including Ulster), New Zealand, Scottish, South African and Welsh pronunciations. Therefore, not all of the distinctions shown here are relevant to a particular dialect:

On the other hand, there are some distinctions which you might make but which this key does not encode, as they are seldom reflected in the dictionaries used as sources for Wikipedia articles:

Other words may have different vowels depending on the speaker.

The pronunciation of the /æ/ vowel in most dialects of Scotland, Northern Ireland, northern England and Wales has always been closer to [a]. BBC English has moved away from the traditional near-open front realization [æ] towards almost fully open front realization [a], and both the Oxford English Dictionary and the 2014 ion of Gimson's Pronunciation of English transcribe the vowel in lad, bad, cat, trap with /a/.[z]

For more extensive information on dialect variations, you may wish to see the IPA chart for English dialects.

Note that place names are not generally exempted from being transcribed in this abstracted system, so rules such as the above must be applied in order to recover the local pronunciation. Examples include place names in much of England ending ‑ford, which although locally pronounced [‑fəd] are transcribed /‑fərd/. This is best practice for ors. However, readers should be aware that not all ors may have followed this consistently, so for example if /‑fəd/ is encountered for such a place name, it should not be interpreted as a claim that the /r/ would be absent even in a rhotic dialect.

Other transcriptions[]

If you feel it is necessary to add a pronunciation respelling using another convention, then please use the conventions of Wikipedia's pronunciation respelling key.

See also[]

Notes[]

  1. ^ a b In varieties with flapping, /t/ and sometimes also /d/ between a vowel and a weak or word-initial vowel may be pronounced with a voiced tap [ɾ], making latter sound similar or identical to ladder. Some dictionaries transcribe /t/ subject to this process as ⟨d⟩ or ⟨⟩, but they are not distinguished in this notation system. In those varieties, the sequence /nt/ in the same environment (as in winter) may also be realized as a nasalized tap [ɾ̃], which may sound similar or identical to /n/. This is also not distinguished in this system.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g In dialects with yod dropping, /j/ in /juː/ or /jʊər/ is not pronounced after coronal consonants (/t/, /d/, /s/, /z/, /n/, /θ/, and /l/) in the same syllable, so that dew /djuː/ is pronounced the same as do /duː/. In dialects with yod coalescence, /tj/ and /dj/ mostly merge with /tʃ/ and /dʒ/, so that the first syllable in Tuesday is pronounced the same as choose. In some dialects /sj/ and /zj/ are also affected and frequently merge with /ʃ/ and /ʒ/. Where /j/ in /juː/ or /jʊər/ following a coronal is still pronounced in yod-dropping accents, place a syllable break before it: menu /ˈmɛn.juː/.
  3. ^ If the two characters ⟨ɡ⟩ and ⟨Opentail g.svg⟩ do not match and if the first looks like a ⟨γ⟩, then you have an issue with your default font. See Help:IPA § Rendering issues.
  4. ^ The phoneme /hw/ is not distinguished from /w/ in the many dialects with the wine–whine merger, such as RP and most varieties of General American. For more information on this sound, see voiceless labialized velar approximant.
  5. ^ The IPA value of the letter ⟨j⟩ is counter-intuitive to many English speakers. However, it does occur with this sound in a few English words: Besides hallelujah, there are fjord, Jägermeister and Jarlsberg cheese.
  6. ^ /l/ in the syllable coda, as in the words all, cold, or bottle, is pronounced as [o], [u], [w] or a similar sound in many dialects through L-vocalization.
  7. ^ In most varieties of English, /r/ is pronounced as an approximant [ɹ]. Although the IPA symbol ⟨r⟩ represents a trill, ⟨r⟩ is widely used instead of ⟨ɹ⟩ in broad transcriptions of English.
  8. ^ A number of English words, such as genre and garage, may be pronounced with either /ʒ/ or /dʒ/.
  9. ^ In most dialects, /x/ can also be replaced by /k/ in most words, including loch. It is also replaced with /h/ in some words, particularly of Yiddish origin, such as Chanukah.
  10. ^ a b /ɒ̃, æ̃/ are only found in French loanwords and often replaced by another vowel and a nasal consonant: bon vivant /ˌbɒn viːˈvɑːnt/, ensemble /ɑːnˈsɑːmbəl/, croissant /ˈkwæsɑːŋ/.[a]
  11. ^ /ɜː/ is only found in loanwords in British and Southern Hemisphere accents, and therefore a transcription that includes it must always be prefaced with a label indicating the variety of English. Use this when a reliable source shows that a vowel in a loanword is pronounced as /ɜː/ in these accents and as a different vowel in General American. If a reliable source shows that a vowel is pronounced as the NURSE vowel in General American as well even though spelled without ⟨r⟩, as in Goethe and hors d'oeuvre, use /ɜːr/.
  12. ^ In non-rhotic accents like RP, /r/ is not pronounced unless followed by a vowel.
  13. ^ In dialects with the father–bother merger such as General American, /ɒ/ is not distinguished from /ɑː/.
  14. ^ In much of the United States, /ɒr/ is merged with /ɔːr/, except for a handful of words such as borrow, tomorrow and sorry, which are realized with /ɑːr/. In some parts of the US, it is always merged with /ɑːr/. In Canada, it is always merged with /ɔːr/.
  15. ^ In North America, /æ/ is often pronounced like a diphthong [eə~ɛə], especially before nasal consonants. See /æ/ raising.
  16. ^ a b c /ær/, /ɛr/ and /ɛər/ are not distinguished in many North American accents (Mary–marry–merry merger). Some speakers merge only two of the sounds (most typically /ɛər/ with one of the short vowels) and less than a fifth of speakers of American English make a full three-way distinction, like RP and similar accents.[b]
  17. ^ a b In much of North America, /aɪ/ or /aʊ/ may have a slightly different quality when it precedes a voiceless consonant, as in price or mouth, from that in ride/pie or loud/how, a phenomenon known as Canadian raising. Since this occurs in a predictable fashion, it is not distinguished in this transcription system.
  18. ^ a b c In some dialects, especially in the UK, the second segment in a diphthong followed by /ə/ is often omitted. This process or lack thereof may help choose between /aɪər, aʊər, ɔɪər/ in some words (diary, admirer) and /aɪr, aʊr, ɔɪr/ in others (pirate, siren), a distinction not always clear.
  19. ^ a b c d Some speakers pronounce higher, flower, mayor and coyer ("more coy") with two syllables, and hire, flour, mare and coir with one. Others pronounce them the same.
  20. ^ /ɛ/ is transcribed as ⟨e⟩ by many dictionaries.[c] However, /eɪ/ is also sometimes transcribed as ⟨e⟩, especially in American literature, so /ɛ/ is chosen here.
  21. ^ a b c /ɛə/, /ɪə/, or /ʊə/ may be separated from /r/ only when a stress follows it. The IPAc-en template supports /ɛəˈr/, /ɪəˈr/, /ʊəˈr/, /ɛəˌr/, /ɪəˌr/, and /ʊəˌr/ as distinct diaphonemes for such occasions.
  22. ^ a b c d /ɪ/ and /oʊ/ may be strong or weak depending on context.[d] Whether an instance of unstressed /ɪ/ is strong or weak may not be clear in some circumstances.[e]
  23. ^ a b Words like idea, real, theatre, and cruel may be pronounced with /ɪə/ or /ʊə/ in non-rhotic accents such as Received Pronunciation, and some dictionaries transcribe them with /ɪə, ʊə/,[f] but since they do not stem from historical /r/ and are not pronounced with /r/ in rhotic accents, they should be transcribed with /iːə, uːə/, not with /ɪə, ʊə/, in this transcription system.
  24. ^ /oʊ/ is transcribed with ⟨əʊ⟩ for Received Pronunciation.
  25. ^ a b /ɔː/ is not distinguished from /ɒ/ in dialects with the cot–caught merger such as many varieties of General American.
  26. ^ Some conservative dialects make a distinction between the vowels in horse and hoarse, but the number of speakers who make this distinction any longer is very small and many dictionaries do not differentiate between them (horse–hoarse merger). The vowel in hoarse was formerly represented as /ɔər/ on Wikipedia, but is now represented as /ɔːr/, identical to horse.
  27. ^ a b /ʊər/ is not distinguished from /ɔːr/ in dialects with the cure–force merger, including many younger speakers. In England, the merger may not be fully consistent and may only apply to more common words. In conservative RP and Northern England English /ʊər/ is much more commonly preserved than in modern RP and Southern England English. In Australia and New Zealand, /ʊər/ does not exist as a separate phoneme and is replaced either by the sequence /uːər/ (/uːr/ before vowels within the same word, save for some compounds) or the monophthong /ɔːr/.
  28. ^ Some, particularly American, dictionaries notate /ʌ/ with the same symbol as /ə/, which is found only in unstressed syllables, and distinguish it from /ə/ by marking the syllable as stressed. Also note that although ⟨ʌ⟩, the IPA symbol for the open-mid back vowel, is used, the typical modern pronunciation is rather close to the near-open central vowel [ɐ] in both Received Pronunciation and General American.
  29. ^ /ʌ/ is not used in the dialects of the northern half of England, some bordering parts of Wales, and some broad eastern Ireland accents. These words would take the /ʊ/ vowel: there is no foot–strut split.
  30. ^ In Received Pronunciation, /ɜːr/ is pronounced as a lengthened schwa, [əː]. In General American, it is phonetically identical to /ər/. Some dictionaries therefore use ⟨əː, ər⟩ instead of the conventional notations ⟨ɜː, ɜr⟩. When ⟨ər⟩ is used for /ɜːr/, it is distinguished from /ər/ by marking the syllable as stressed. The choice between /ɜːr/ and /ər/ is problematic only in unstressed word-internal and -final contexts; in stressed syllables as well as in the word-initial position only /ɜːr/ can occur. In some words (such as virginity), there is a free variation between /ɜːr/ and /ər/ in RP, in which case it is acceptable to transcribe the most common variant (/ər/ in the case of that word).
  31. ^ /ʌr/ is not distinguished from /ɜːr/ in dialects with the hurry–furry merger such as General American.
  32. ^ a b In a number of contexts, /ə/ in /ər/, /əl/, /ən/, or /əm/ is often omitted, resulting in a syllable with no vowel. Some dictionaries show /ə/ in those contexts in parentheses, superscript, or italics to indicate this possibility, or simply omit /ə/. When followed by a weak vowel, the syllable may be lost altogether, with the consonant moving to the next syllable, so that doubling /ˈdʌb.əl.ɪŋ/ may alternatively be pronounced as [ˈdʌb.lɪŋ], and Edinburgh /ˈɛd.ɪn.bər.ə/ as [ˈɛd.ɪn.brə].[k] When not followed by a vowel, /ər/ merges with /ə/ in non-rhotic accents.
  33. ^ In accents with the weak vowel merger such as most Australian and American accents, /ɪ/ in unstressed positions is not distinguished from /ə/, making rabbit and abbot rhyme and Lenin and Lennon homophonous. Pairs like roses and Rosa's are kept distinct in American accents because of the difference in morphological structure,[g] but may be homophonous in Australian.[h] In these accents, unstressed /ɪl, ɪn, ɪm/ merge with /əl, ən, əm/, so that Latin rhymes with baton and cabinet may be disyllabic (see the previous note).
  34. ^ a b /oʊ/ and /u/ in unstressed, prevocalic positions are transcribed as /əw/ by Merriam-Webster, but no other dictionary uniformly follows this practice.[i] Hence a difference between /əw/ in Merriam-Webster and /oʊ/ or /u/ in another source is most likely one in notation, not in pronunciation, so /əw/ in such cases may be better replaced with /oʊ/ or /u/ accordingly, to minimize confusion: /ˌsɪtʃəˈweɪʃən//ˌsɪtʃuˈeɪʃən/, /ˈfɒləwər//ˈfɒloʊər/.
  35. ^ a b The symbols ⟨i⟩ and ⟨u⟩ do not represent phonemes but phonemic neutralization between the unstressed /iː/ and /uː/ and the unstressed /ɪ/ and /ʊ/. ⟨i⟩ represents /iː/ in dialects with the happy tensing (such as Australian English, General American and Modern RP) and /ɪ/ in others, such as conservative RP, Scottish English and some Northern English and Southern American English dialects. Speakers of the former dialects should read transcriptions such as /ˈhæpi/ as equivalent to /ˈhæpiː/, and speakers of the latter dialects /ˈhæpɪ/. British convention used to transcribe this vowel with ⟨ɪ⟩, but the OED and other influential dictionaries have converted to ⟨i⟩. Before vowels there is a certain amount of free variation among speakers of dialects without the happy tensing, so that the phrase happy again can be pronounced as either [ˈhæpiː əˈɡɛn] or [ˈhæpɪ əˈɡɛn], even though happy in isolation is pronounced [ˈhæpɪ].
  36. ^ ⟩ may represent disyllabic sequences /iːə/ or /ɪ.ə/, a monosyllabic sequence /jə/ or a diphthong [ɪə̯]. Among the disyllabic pronunciations, /iːə/ is used in dialects with the happy tensing, but in dialects without it there is a certain amount of free variation between [iːə] and [ɪ.ə], which means that California can be pronounced as either [ˌkælɪˈfɔːrniːə], [ˌkælɪˈfɔːrnɪ.ə] or one of the monosyllabic possibilities. When pronounced as one syllable in a non-rhotic accent, it may be indistinguishable from, and identified as, the NEAR vowel (/ɪər/), so that speakers of such dialects can identify both vowels in serious as being the same (/ˈsɪərɪəs/).[f] It should be transcribed as /iə/, not /i.ə/, because the latter would falsely suggest that the disyllabic pronunciation is the only possibility. Disyllabic pronunciation is mandatory across word boundaries, as in happy again, but words are normally separated in IPA (as they are in spelling): /ˈhæpi əˈɡɛn/.[j]
  37. ^ ⟩ may represent disyllabic sequences /uːə/ or /ʊ.ə/, a monosyllabic sequence /wə/ or a diphthong [ʊə̯]. When pronounced as one syllable in a non-rhotic accent, it may be indistinguishable from, and identified as, the CURE vowel (/ʊər/).[f] It should be transcribed as /uə/, not /u.ə/, because the latter would falsely suggest that the disyllabic pronunciation is the only possibility.[j]
  38. ^ Syllable divisions are not usually marked, but the IPA dot '.' may be used when it is wished to make explicit where a division between syllables is (or may be) made.

References[]

  1. ^ Jones (2011).
  2. ^ Vaux, Bert; Golder, Scott (2003). "How do you pronounce Mary/merry/marry?". Harvard Dialect Survey. Harvard University Linguistics Department.
  3. ^ Wells, John (18 March 2009). "e and ɛ". John Wells's phonetic blog.
  4. ^ Flemming & Johnson (2007), pp. 91–2.
  5. ^ Wells, John (25 March 2011). "strong and weak". John Wells's phonetic blog.
  6. ^ a b c Wells (1982), p. 240.
  7. ^ Flemming & Johnson (2007), pp. 94–5.
  8. ^ Wells (1982), p. 601.
  9. ^ Windsor Lewis, Jack (10 April 2009). "The Elephant in the Room". PhonetiBlog.
  10. ^ a b Wells (2008), p. 173.
  11. ^ Wells (2008), pp. 173, 799.
  12. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 473–6, 493, 499.
  13. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 361, 372.
  14. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 605–7.
  15. ^ Bauer et al. (2007), pp. 98–9.
  16. ^ Bauer et al. (2007), p. 98.
  17. ^ Stuart-Smith (2004), p. 58.
  18. ^ Corrigan (2010), pp. 33–5.
  19. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 351–3, 363–4.
  20. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 380–1.
  21. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 612–3.
  22. ^ a b Stuart-Smith (2004), p. 56.
  23. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 304, 310–1.
  24. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 304, 312–3.
  25. ^ Stuart-Smith (2004), p. 57.
  26. ^ Cruttenden (2014), pp. 119–20.

Bibliography[]

External links[]