Wikinfo:IPA for English

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The pronunciation of English words is most often given in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The goal is that interpretation should not depend on the reader's dialect, and therefore a broad transcription is generally used.

For a more complete key to the IPA, which covers sounds that do not occur in English, see Help:IPA.

Since this key accommodates standard American, British, and Australian pronunciations, not all of the distinctions shown here will be relevant to your dialect. If, for example, you pronounce cot and caught the same, you can ignore the difference between the symbols /ɒ/ and /ɔː/. In many dialects /r/ occurs only before a vowel; if you speak such a dialect, simply ignore /r/ in the pronunciation guides where you would not pronounce it.

On the other hand, this key does not encode the difference between the vowels of bad and lad in Australian English, nor between those in fir, fur, and fern in Scottish English, as those distinctions are seldom made in Wikipedia articles.

The IPA stress mark (ˈ) comes before the syllable that has the stress, in contrast to some other methods of describing pronunciation used in English dictionaries.

For a more precise use of the IPA to illustrate differences between English dialects, to transcribe languages other than English, or if the IPA symbols are not displayed on your browser, see the links in the box to the right and at the bottom of this page.


IPA Examples
b but, web
d do, odd
ð this, breathe, father
gin, joy, edge
f fool, enough, leaf, photo
ɡ go, get, beg
h ham, ahead
j yes, hallelujah
k cat, kill, skin, queen, thick
l left, bell
m man, ham
n no, tin
ŋ ringer, sing, sink
ŋɡ finger
θ thing, teeth
p pen, spin, tip
r run, very[1]
s see, city, pass
ʃ she, sure, emotion, leash, session
t two, sting, bet
chair, nature, teach
v voice, have
w we
ʍ what[2]
z zoo, rose
ʒ pleasure, vision, beige[3]
Marginal consonants
x ugh, loch, Chanukah[4]
ʔ uh-oh /ˈʌʔoʊ/,
Hawaii /həˈwaɪʔiː/[5]
IPA Examples R-colored vowels[6]
æ bad, pat ær barrow, marry
ɑː balm, father, pa ɑr bar, mar
ɒ bod, pot, cot[7] ɒr moral, forage
ɔː bawd, paw, caught[8] ɔr born, for
beau, hoe, poke[9] ɔər boar, four, more
ʊ good, foot, put ʊər boor, moor
booed, food
ʌ bud, butt ʌr hurry, Murray
ɜr bird, myrrh, furry (or /ɝː/ [10])
ɛ bed, pet ɛr berry, merry
bay, hey, fate ɛər bear, mare, Mary
ɪ bid, pit[11] ɪr mirror
i happy, city[11]
ɪər beer, mere
bead, peat[11]
Diphthongs Reduced vowels
аɪ buy, high, ride, write ə Rosa’s, above
bough, how, pout əl bottle
ɔɪ boy, hoy əm rhythm
juː beauty, hue, pew, dew[12] ən button
Syllabification ər runner, mercer (or /ɚ/ [10])
. moai /ˈmoʊ.аɪ/[13] ɨ roses, business [14]
IPA Examples
ˈ intonation /ˌɪntəˈneɪʃən/[15]


  1. Although the IPA symbol [r] represents a trill, /r/ is widely used instead of /ɹ/ in broad transcriptions of English.
  2. /ʍ/ is found in some dialects, such as Scottish and Southern American English; elsewhere people use /w/.
  3. A number of English words, such as genre and garage, are pronounced with either /ʒ/ or /dʒ/.
  4. In most dialects, /x/ is replaced by /k/ in loch and by /h/ in Chanukah.
  5. Most people pronounce the English word Hawaii without the /ʔ/ (glottal stop) that occurs in the Hawaiian word Hawai‘i.
  6. In many dialects, /r/ occurs only before vowels. Note that due to American influence, the schwas have been left out in many Wikipedia articles. That is, /ɪər/ etc. are not always distinguished from /ɪr/ etc. When they are, the long vowels may be transcribed /iːr/ etc. by analogy with vowels not followed by /r/.
  7. In most North American dialects, not distinguished from /ɑː/.
  8. In some North American dialects, not distinguished from /ɑː/.
  9. Commonly transcribed /əʊ/ or /oː/.
  10. 10.0 10.1 In some articles these are transcribed /ɝː/ and /ɚ/ when not followed by a vowel.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 American convention is to write /i/ when unstressed and preceding a vowel or word boundary, as in wiki /ˈwɪki/ and serious /ˈsɪriəs/; British convention used to be /ˈwɪkɪ/ and /ˈsɪərɪəs/, but the OED and other influential dictionaries recently converted to /i/.
  12. In many dialects, /juː/ is pronounced the same as /uː/ after "tongue sounds" (/t/, /d/, /s/, /z/, /n/, /θ/, and /l/), so that dew /djuː/ is pronounced the same as do /duː/.
  13. Syllables are indicated sparingly, where necessary to avoid confusion.
  14. Few British dictionaries distinguish this from /ɪ/, though the OED now uses the pseudo-IPA symbol ɪ̵.
  15. It is arguable that English does not distinguish primary from secondary stress, but it is conventional to notate them as here. Likewise, it is debatable whether a word like Glennallen is [glɛˈnælən] or [glɛnˈælən]; for clarity, the former is used.

See also

This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Wikipedia:IPA for English.
The list of authors can be seen in the page history. The text of this Wikinfo article is available under the GNU Free Documentation License and the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.

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