|Palatal||Velar||Uvular / |
- The phonemes /q/, /f/ are only found in loanwords, and tend to be replaced by /k/, /p/.
- /n/ has non-phonemic allophones: [ŋ] before /k/ and /ɡ/, [ɳ] before /ʈ/ and /ɖ/, [ɲ] before /t͡ʃ/ and /d͡ʒ/, and [m] before /b/ and /p/.
- /ɳ/ is a voiced retroflex nasal flap, narrowly transcribed [ɽ̃]
- Voiceless stops and affricates /p, t, ʈ, t͡s, t͡ʃ, k/ are all unaspirated, like Spanish, other Romance languages, and Austronesian languages; they have slightly aspirated allophones prevocalically in a stressed syllable, almost like English.
- /ʂ~ç/ and /ʐ~ʝ/ are dialectal allophones (represented by ښ and ږ), The retroflex variants [ʂ, ʐ] are used in the Southwest dialects whereas the palatal variants [ç, ʝ] are used in the Wardak and Central Ghilji dialects. Some Northern dialects merge them with the velar /x, ɣ/.
- /h/ is dropped in most Southwest dialects and Waṇētsī.
- /r/ is a voiced alveolar flap, single in most dialects.
- /ɭ̆/ is a voiced retroflex lateral flap. As it does not have a dedicated IPA symbol, it can also be commonly represented as /ɺ̢, ɺ̣/.
Pashto syllable structure can be summarized as follows; parentheses enclose optional components:
- (C1 (C2)) (S1) V (S2) (C3 (C4))
Pashto syllable structure consists of an optional syllable onset, consisting of one or two consonants; an obligatory syllable nucleus, consisting of a vowel optionally preceded by and/or followed by a semivowel; and an optional syllable coda, consisting of one or two consonants. The following restrictions apply:
- First consonant (C1): Can be any consonant, including a liquid (/l, r/).
- Second consonant (C2): Can be any consonant. (see #Consonant Clusters below)
- Semivowel (S1)
- Vowel (V)
- Semivowel (S2)
- First consonant (C3): Can be any consonant
- Second consonant (C4): Can be any consonant
|Two Consonant Clusters||/t̪l/, /kl/, /bl/, /ɣl/, /lm/, /nm/, /lw/, /sw/, /br/, /t̪r/, /ɣr/, /pr/, /d̪r/, /wr/, /kɽ/, mɽ, /wɽ/ /xp/, /pʃ/, /pʂ/, /xr/, /zb/, /zɽ/, /ʒb/, /d͡zm/, /md͡z/, /t͡sk/, /sk/, /sp/, /ʃp/, /ʂk/, /xk/, /ʃk/, /kʃ/, /kx/, /kʂ/, /ml/, /gr/, /gm/ and /ʐm/ etc.|
|Three Consonant Clusters||/sxw/, /xwɽ/, /xwl/, /nɣw/ etc.|
Most dialects in Pashto have seven vowels and seven diphthongs.
|Low||aɪ, aw||ɑi, ɑw|
Orthography of diphthongs
In Waziri dialect the stressed [o] in Standard Pashto becomes [œː] as in the word [lor] meaning 'sickle' becomes [lœːr] and [ɛː] as in the word [oˈɽə] meaning 'flour' becomes [ɛːˈɽə]. The [o] in Standard Pashto may also become [(j)e] as in the word [jeˈʒa] meaning 'shoulder' from [oˈɡa] or [oˈʐa].
Few short vowels occur in speech in borrowed words and in the Peshawar dialect.
Diphthongs in dialects
The diphthongs varies according to dialect. The stressed diphthong [aɪ] changes to [æɪ] in the Mohmand dialect and [a] in Wanetsi.
The diphthong [əɪ] used to indicate feminine noun gender changes to [i] in Wanetsi and [ʌi] in Kâkaṛi.
The long diphthongs [ɑi] and [ɑw] becomes [ɑe] and [ɑo], respectively, in most Northeastern dialects.
Pashto has phonemic variable stress, unique amongst Iranian languages.
For instance the pronouns are differently inflected:
|haɣá||that, he||háɣa||that one, he (emphatic)|
|daɣá||this, he||dáɣa||this one, he (emphatic)|
In verbs to distinguish aspect:
|kẍenɑstə́ləm||I was sitting||kẍénɑstələm||I sat down|
|ba kẍenə́m||I shall be sitting||ba kẍénəm||I shall sit|
In verbs to distinguish mood:
|pregdə́m||I leave||prégdəm||that I leave|
- David, Anne Boyle (2013), Descriptive Grammar of Pashto and Its Dialects, Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 978-1-61451-303-2
- Elfenbein, Josef (1997), Kaye, Alan S. (ed.), Phonologies of Asia and Africa: Including the Caucasus, Eisenbrauns, pp. 733–760, ISBN 978-1-57506-019-4
- Tegey, Habibullah; Robson, Barbara (1996), A Reference Grammar of Pashto (PDF), Washington, D.C.: Center for Applied Linguistics