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Common-name ref

International Phonetic Alphabet for English[edit]

/i:/ close front unrounded vowel IPA [iː]

/I/ near-close near-front unrounded vowel IPA [ɪ]

/eI/ diphthong: close-mid front unrounded vowel + near-close near-front unrounded vowel IPA [eɪ]

/E/ open-mid front unrounded vowel IPA [ɛ]

/&/ near-open front unrounded vowel

    • IPA [æ]

/A:/ open back unrounded vowel

    • IPA [ɑː]

/A./ BrE open back rounded vowel

    • BrE [ɒ]

/O:/ open-mid back rounded vowel

    • IPA [ɔː]

/V/ open-mid back unrounded vowel

    • IPA [ʌ]

/oU/ AmE close-mid back rounded vowel + near-close near-back rounded vowel

    • IPA AmE [oʊ]

/@U/ BrE schwa + near-close near-back rounded vowel

    • BrE [əʊ]

/U/ near-close near-back rounded vowel

    • IPA [ʊ]

/u:/ close back rounded vowel

    • IPA [uː]

/:/ [ː]

Reduced vowels[edit]

These are vowels that occur in unstressed syllables.


    • IPA [ə]
  • runner - AmE only. This is called an r-colored schwa. This is a single sound, not a sequence of schwa and r.
    • IPA [ɚ]
    • SAMPA [@`]
  • button - AmE only. This is called syllabic n.
    • IPA [n̩]
  • bottom - AmE only. This is called syllabic m.
    • IPA [m̩]

R-colored vowels[edit]

These are plain vowels that are followed by r.

  • her
    • IPA AmE [ɝ] BrE [ɜ]
  • near
    • IPA AmE [iɹ] BrE [ɪə]
  • marry - AmE only *
    • IPA [æɹ]
  • merry - AmE only *
    • IPA [ɛɹ]
  • bare
    • IPA AmE [eɹ] BrE [ɛə]
  • car
    • IPA AmE [aɹ] BrE [aː]
  • core
    • IPA AmE [ɔɹ] BrE [ɔə]
  • pure
    • IPA AmE [ʊɹ] BrE [ʊə]
  • fire
    • IPA AmE [aɪɚ] BrE [aɪə]
  • hour
    • IPA AmE [aʊɚ] BrE[aʊə]

* For many speakers of American English, all or some of [æ], [ɛ], and [e] are merged before [r]. That is, merry, marry, and/or Mary are homophones. The vowel is pronounced as [eɹ]. For speakers of British English, these sequences are just the plain vowel, with [ɹ] beginning the next syllable;


Diphthongs are vowel sounds that smoothly glide from one vowel to another.


    • IPA [aɪ]


    • IPA [ɔɪ]


    • IPA [aʊ]


    • IPA [ju]



/p/ - voiceless bilabial plosive

    • IPA [p]

/b/ voiced bilabial plosive

    • IPA [b]

/t/ voiceless alveolar plosive

    • IPA [t]

/d/ voiced alveolar plosive

    • IPA [d]

/k/ voiceless velar plosive

    • IPA [k]

/g/ voiced velar plosive

    • IPA [g]

[?] glottal stop (not usually considered a separate phoneme of English.)

    • IPA [ʔ]

The voiceless stops, [p], [t], and [k] are aspirated when they occur at the beginning of stressed syllables. Aspiration is marked in IPA with a superscript h. These symbols are thus [pʰ], [tʰ], [kʰ].


/n/ alveolar nasal

    • IPA [n]

/m/ bilabial nasal

    • IPA [m]
  • /N/ - This sound is called engma, eng or agma
    • SAMPA [N]


/f/ voiceless labiodental fricative

    • IPA [f]

/v/ voiced labiodental fricative

    • IPA [v]

/T/ voiceless interdental fricative

    • IPA [θ]

/D/ voiced interdental fricative

    • IPA [ð]

/s/ voiceless alveolar fricative

    • IPA [s]

/z/ voiced alveolar fricative

    • IPA [z]

/S/ voiceless postalveolar fricative - This symbol is called esh

    • IPA [ʃ]

/Z/ voiced postalveolar fricative - This symbol is called ezh or yogh

    • IPA [ʒ]

/h/ voiceless glottal fricative

    • IPA [h]



    • IPA [tʃ]


    • IPA [dʒ]

A distinction is made in English between affricates and a series of a stop and fricative, because a syllable boundary never separates an affricate, but it might separate a stop/fricative sequence.


Approximants, also called liquids, are smooth sounds that are almost like vowels. /l/ lateral alveolar approximant

/r/ alveolar approximant

    • IPA [ɹ]

[*] alveolar flap (not a separate phoneme of English, but an allophone of [t] and [d])

    • IPA [ɾ]

/w/ labial-velar approximant

    • IPA [w]

/j/ palatal approximant

    • IPA [j]

[w] and [j] are also called glides.


  • primary stress
    • IPA [ˈ]
  • secondary stress
    • IPA [ˌ]
  • syllable break
    • IPA [.]