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International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)
The IPA was first published in 1888 by the Association Phonétique Internationale (International Phonetic Association), a group of French language teachers founded by Paul Passy. The aim of the organisation was to devise a system for transcribing the sounds of speech which was independent of any particular language and applicable to all languages.
A phonetic script for English created in 1847 by Isaac Pitman and Henry Ellis was used as a model for the IPA.
* The IPA is used in dictionaries to indicate the pronunciation of words. * The IPA has often been used as a basis for creating new writing systems for previously unwritten languages. * The IPA is used in some foreign language text books and phrase books to transcribe the sounds of languages which are written with non-latin alphabets. It is also used by non-native speakers of English when learning to speak English.

Where symbols appear in pairs, the one on the right represents a voiced consonant, while the one on the left is unvoiced. Shaded areas denote articulations judged to be impossible.

Contents page
Contents page for Vowels and Consonants
Chapter 1
Chapter 1 book links
Clicking on a symbol will take you to a part of the chart where you can hear the corresponding sound.
To hear the sounds in a row or column and get short definitions of the terms click here.

The sounds of English and the International Phonetic Alphabet
© Tomasz P. Szynalski,
This chart contains all the sounds (phonemes) used in the English language. For each sound, it gives: * The symbol from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), as used in phonetic transcriptions in modern dictionaries for English learners — that is, in A. C. Gimson’s phonemic system with a few additional symbols.
The chart represents British and American phonemes with one symbol. One symbol can mean two different phonemes in American and British English. See the footnotes for British-only and American-only symbols. * Two English words which use the sound. The underline shows where the sound is heard. * The links labeled Amer and Brit play sound recordings (Flash is required) where the words are pronounced in American and British English. The British version is given only where it is very different from the American version.
To print the chart, use the printable PDF version. vowels | IPA | examples | listen | | ʌ | cup, luck | Amer | | ɑ: | arm, father | Amer / Brit | | æ | cat, black | Amer | | e | met, bed | Amer | 1 | ə | away, cinema | Amer | 2 | ɜ:ʳ | turn, learn | Amer / Brit | 2 | ɪ | hit, sitting | Amer | | i: | see, heat | Amer | | ɒ | hot, rock | Amer / Brit | 3 | ɔ: | call, four | Amer / Brit | 4 5 | ʊ | put, could | Amer | | u: | blue, food | Amer | | aɪ | five, eye | Amer | | aʊ | now, out | Amer | | eɪ | say, eight | Amer | | oʊ | go, home | Amer | 6 | ɔɪ | boy, join | Amer | | eəʳ | where, air | Amer / Brit | 1 7 | ɪəʳ | near, here | Amer / Brit | 7 | ʊəʳ | pure, tourist | Amer / Brit | 7 | | consonants | IPA | examples | listen | | b | bad, lab | Amer | | d | did, lady | Amer | | f | find, if | Amer | | g | give, flag | Amer | | h | how, hello | Amer | | j | yes, yellow | Amer | | k | cat, back | Amer | | l | leg, little | Amer | | m | man, lemon | Amer | | n | no, ten | Amer | | ŋ | sing, finger | Amer | | p | pet, map | Amer | | r | red, try | Amer | 8 | s | sun, miss | Amer | | ʃ | she, crash | Amer | | t | tea, getting | Amer | 9 | tʃ | check, church | Amer | | θ | think, both | Amer | | ð | this, mother | Amer | | v | voice, five | Amer | | w | wet, window | Amer | | z | zoo, lazy | Amer | | ʒ | pleasure, vision | Amer | | dʒ | just, large | Amer | | | 1. 1. Almost all dictionaries use the e symbol for the vowel in bed. The problem with this convention is that e in the IPA does not stand for the vowel in bed; it stands for a different vowel that is heard, for example, in the German word Seele, or at the beginning of the eɪ sound in English. The “proper” symbol for the bed vowel is ɛ (do not confuse with ɜ:). The same goes for eə vs. ɛə. 2. 2. In əʳ and ɜ:ʳ, the ʳ is not pronounced in BrE, unless the sound comes before a vowel (as in answering, answer it). In AmE, the ʳ is always pronounced, and the sounds are sometimes written as ɚ and ɝ. 3. 3. In AmE, ɑ: and ɒ are one vowel, so calm and cot have the same vowel. In American transcriptions, hot is written as hɑ:t. 4. 4. About 40% of Americans pronounce ɔ: the same way as ɑ:, so that caught and cot have the same vowel. See cot-caught merger. 5. 5. In American transcriptions, ɔ: is often written as ɒ: (e.g. law = lɒ:), unless it is followed by r, in which case it remains an ɔ:. 6. 6. In British transcriptions, oʊ is usually represented as əʊ. For some BrE speakers, oʊ is more appropriate (they use a rounded vowel) — for others, the proper symbol is əʊ. For American speakers, oʊ is usually more accurate. 7. 7. In eəʳ ɪəʳ ʊəʳ, the r is not pronounced in BrE, unless the sound comes before a vowel (as in dearest, dear Ann). In AmE, the r is always pronounced, and the sounds are often written as er ɪr ʊr. 8. 8. All dictionaries use the r symbol for the first sound in red. The problem with this convention is that r in the IPA does not stand for the British or American r; it stands for the “hard” r that is heard, for example, in the Spanish word rey or Italian vero. The “proper” symbol for the red consonant is ɹ. 9. 9. In American English, t is often pronounced as a flap t, which sounds like d or (more accurately) like the quick, hard r heard e.g. in the Spanish word pero. For example: letter. Some dictionaries use the t ̬ symbol for the flap t. special symbols | IPA | what it means | ˈ | The vertical line (ˈ) is used to show word stress. It is placed before the stressed syllable in a word. For example, /ˈkɒntrækt/ is pronounced like this, and /kənˈtrækt/ like that. Word stress is explained in our article about phonetic transcription. | ʳ | ʳ is not a sound — it is a short way of saying that an r is pronounced only in American English. For example, if you write that the pronunciation of bar is /bɑ:ʳ/, you mean that it is /bɑ:r/ in American English, and /bɑ:/ in British English. However, in BrE, r will be heard if ʳ is followed by a vowel. For example, far gone is pronounced /ˈfɑ: ˈgɒn/ in BrE, but far out is pronounced /ˈfɑ: ˈraʊt/. | i | i is usually pronounced like a shorter version of i:, but sometimes (especially in an old-fashioned British accent) it can sound like ɪ. Examples: very /ˈveri/, create /kriˈeɪt/, previous /ˈpri:viəs/, ability /əˈbɪlɪti/. | əl | əl means that the consonant l is pronounced as a separate syllable (the syllabic l, which sounds like a vowel), or that there is a short ə sound before it. Examples: little /ˈlɪtəl/, uncle /ˈʌŋkəl/. Instead of the əl symbol, some dictionaries use an l with a small vertical line underneath, or simply l, as in /ˈlɪtl/. | ən | ən means that the consonant n is pronounced as a separate syllable (the syllabic n, which sounds like a vowel), or that there is a short ə sound before it. Examples: written /ˈrɪtən/, listen /ˈlɪsən/. Instead of the ən symbol, some dictionaries use an n with a small vertical line underneath, or simply n, as in /ˈrɪtn/. |
Does this chart list all the sounds that you can hear in British and American English?
No. This page contains symbols used in phonetic transcriptions in modern dictionaries for English learners. It does not list all the possible sounds in American or British English.
For example, this page does not list the regular t (heard in this pronunciation of letter) and the flap t (heard in this one) with separate symbols. It groups them under a single symbol: t. (In other words, it groups a number of similar sounds under a single phoneme, for simplicity. To understand how sounds are grouped into phonemes, read the article on phonemic transcription.)
So this page actually lists phonemes (groups of sounds), not individual sounds. Each symbol in the chart can correspond to many different (but similar) sounds, depending on the word and the speaker’s accent.
Take the phoneme p in the above chart. It occurs in the phonemic transcriptions of pin /pɪn/ and spin /spɪn/. In pin, this phoneme is pronounced with aspiration (breathing). This “aspirated p” sound has its own special symbol in the IPA: pʰ. In spin, the phoneme is pronounced “normally”; this “normal p” sound is represented by p in the IPA. So the p phoneme represents two sounds: p and pʰ. (This can be confusing, because p can mean both the p phoneme and the p sound.)
Typing the phonetic symbols
You won’t find phonetic symbols on your computer’s keyboard. How do you type them in a Word document, e-mail message, or SRS collection? There are two solutions: * You can go to the IPA phonetic keyboard at, type your transcriptions, and copy & paste them to your document. * You can use the ASCII Phonetic Alphabet, which replaces IPA symbols with characters that you can type on your keyboard.
Learning to pronounce the sounds
We offer English pronunciation software called PerfectPronunciation which teaches learners to pronounce the most frequently used English words. It lets you listen to examples of English sounds, practice your pronunciation, and review your knowledge. PerfectPronunciation uses the ASCII Phonetic Alphabet. International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)
The IPA was first published in 1888 by the Association Phonétique Internationale (International Phonetic Association), a group of French language teachers founded by Paul Passy. The aim of the organisation was to devise a system for transcribing the sounds of speech which was independent of any particular language and applicable to all languages.
A phonetic script for English created in 1847 by Isaac Pitman and Henry Ellis was used as a model for the IPA.
* The IPA is used in dictionaries to indicate the pronunciation of words. * The IPA has often been used as a basis for creating new writing systems for previously unwritten languages. * The IPA is used in some foreign language text books and phrase books to transcribe the sounds of languages which are written with non-latin alphabets. It is also used by non-native speakers of English when learning to speak English.

Where symbols appear in pairs, the one on the right represents a voiced consonant, while the one on the left is unvoiced. Shaded areas denote articulations judged to be impossible.

The International Alphabet was invented by the International Phonetic Association in 1888 and has undergone constant revision since. Here is the official chart.
The tables shown here follow the manner of the official chart with the addition of an “epiglottal” column in the consonants table because there is no reason not to do so (there are as many symbols in the epiglottal as in the glottal locations, and it is interesting to parallel the pharyngeal, epiglottal and glottal consonants), and similarly an “implosives” row.
When the consonants' table shows two characters in a square, the first is the voiceless sound and the second is voiced; when only one character is shown, it is voiced, except for the glottal and epiglottal plosives, which are voiceless (it is — probably — not possible to pronounce a voiced pharyngeal, glottal or epiglottal plosive). A grey rectangle (if your browser displays it, that is) means that the corresponding sound is impossible to pronounce, or meaningless; the voiceless pharyngeal plosive is possible (only the voiced counterpart is not), it just doesn't have a symbol. An empty square means that the sound is (presumably) possible, but no symbol has been defined (because no language uses it, or because it is just as convenient to use diacritics over an existing symbol). Dentals, alveolar and postalveolar consonants use the same symbols except for fricatives: if necessary, diacritics can be used to mark them apart; the standard version is alveolar (though in my opinion, the approximant used to mark the English ‘r’ (lowercase turned r, number 151) is distinctly postalveolar, even slightly retroflex).
The vowels' table attempts to map the vowel symbols. However, when used phonemically, their value varies greatly from language to language, much more than consonants. When two vowels are shown in a square, the first is unrounded and the second is rounded (though it is by no means true that all “unrounded” vowels are equally unrounded, or even that all “rounded” vowels are equally rounded). When a single vowel is shown, it varies in roundedness, being generally of somewhat neutral value; however, the ash (lowercase ae ligature, number 325) is a distinctly unrounded front semi-open vowel, and the upsilon (number 321, which looks like a turned small capital omega) is a distinctly rounded back-center semi-closed vowel.
Regular IPA
The following tables show the regular IPA symbols.
Displayed with graphics
These tables show one small (PNG) graphics file for each character. These graphics file were prepared from the “TIPA” TeX/LaTeX fonts written by Rei Fukui ( using an ad hoc Perl script to convert the METAFONT output to individual PNG files.
The images are numbered using the International Phonetic's Association standard numbering of IPA symbols. If your browser is text-only, you will see the corresponding numbers in place of the images. CONSONANTS | Bilabial | Labiodental | Dental | Alveolar | Postalveolar | Retroflex | Palatal | Velar | Uvular | Pharyngeal | Epiglottal | Glottal | Plosive | | | | | | | | | | | Nasal | | | | | | | | | | | Trill | | | | | | | | | | | Flap | | | | | | | | | | | Fricative | | | | | | | | | | | | | Lateral fricative | | | | | | | | | | | Approximant | | | | | | | | | | | Lateral approximant | | | | | | | | | | | Implosive | | | | | | | | | | |

VOWELS | Front | | Central | | Back | Close | | | | | | Semi-close | | | | | | Close-mid | | | | | | Mid | | | | | | Open-mid | | | | | | Semi-open | | | | | | Open | | | | | |

CLICKS | | Bilabial | | Dental | | Alveolar or postalveolar | | Palatoalveolar | | Alveolar lateral | |

EXTRA SYMBOLS | | Voiceless labial-velar fricative | | Voiced labial-velar approximant | | Voiced labial-palatal approximant | | Voiceless postalveolo-velar fricative | | Alveolar lateral flap | | Alveolo-palatal fricatives | |
Using Unicode characters
These tables contain the Unicode characters of the various phonetic symbols. If you are lucky enough to have a functional Unicode web browser with the appropriate fonts correctly installed (something rather unlikely!), it should look just as pretty as the previous table, and it should work even if your browser is text-only. If not, you will probably see lots of question marks, unreadable or incorrect characters, or simply blank squares. This has been tested using Mozilla on Linux, with an impressive number of fonts; and also using lynx on an xterm with Unicode support. CONSONANTS | Bilabial | Labiodental | Dental | Alveolar | Postalveolar | Retroflex | Palatal | Velar | Uvular | Pharyngeal | Epiglottal | Glottal | Plosive | p b | | t d | ʈ ɖ | c ɟ | k g | q ɢ | | ʡ | ʔ | Nasal | m | ɱ | n | ɳ | ɲ | ŋ | ɴ | | | | Trill | ʙ | | r | | | | ʀ | | | | Flap | | | ɾ | ɽ | | | | | | | Fricative | ɸ β | f v | θ ð | s z | ʃ ʒ | ʂ ʐ | ç ʝ | x ɣ | χ ʁ | ħ ʕ | ʜ ʢ | h ɦ | Lateral fricative | | | ɬ ɮ | | | | | | | | Approximant | | ʋ | ɹ | ɻ | j | ɰ | | | | | Lateral approximant | | | l | ɭ | ʎ | ʟ | | | | | Implosive | ɓ | | ɗ | | ʄ | ɠ | ʛ | | | |

VOWELS | Front | | Central | | Back | Close | i y | | ɨ ʉ | | ɯ u | Semi-close | | ɪ ʏ | | ʊ | | Close-mid | e ø | | ɘ ɵ | | ɤ o | Mid | | | ə | | | Open-mid | ɛ œ | | ɜ ɞ | | ʌ ɔ | Semi-open | æ | | ɐ | | | Open | a ɶ | | | | ɑ ɒ |

CLICKS | | Bilabial | ʘ | Dental | ǀ | Alveolar or postalveolar | ǃ | Palatoalveolar | ǂ | Alveolar lateral | ǁ |

EXTRA SYMBOLS | | Voiceless labial-velar fricative | ʍ | Voiced labial-velar approximant | w | Voiced labial-palatal approximant | ɥ | Voiceless postalveolo-velar fricative | ɧ | Alveolar lateral flap | ɺ | Alveolo-palatal fricatives | ɕ ʑ |
Representing IPA characters on a computer is very inconvenient: the characters themselves are unusual and consequently not found in most fonts, and diacritics are many. Although the progressive acceptance of Unicode will probably alleviate the problem, it is still a few years before tables like the previous ones are displayed correctly everywhere. Besides, even when it works correctly, there are places where using Unicode representations is inconvenient, for example in Usenet articles. For this reason, a pure-ASCII representation of the IPA has been devised, mostly for use on the sci.lang Usenet group. Its specification is by Evan Kirshenbaum (
I have made some changes in the following table with respect to Evan's specification to correct some (IMHO) illogical features (or contradictions) in the document, and to bring the representation in line with the latest standard of the IPA itself (1996). I have added an “epiglottal” feature, represented by “epg”. I have represented the voiced uvular fricative by ‘Q"’, rather than ‘g"’, which ought to be a voiced plosive (note that the same objection could be made about the ‘r"’ symbol which is here shown as a trill whereas it ought to be an approximant, but in fact the corresponding IPA symbol is often used as an approximant, so it does not matter very much). I have represented the labiodental approximant by ‘v<apr>’ because it seems much more appropriate than the proposed ‘r<lbd>’ for a language such as Hindi (of course, different symbols can be used for different languages, even, in strict phonetic transcription, when they represent the same sound). CONSONANTS | Bilabial | Labiodental | Dental | Alveolar | Postalveolar | Retroflex | Palatal | Velar | Uvular | Pharyngeal | Epiglottal | Glottal | Plosive | p b | | t d | t. d. | c J | k g | q G | | ?<epg> | ? | Nasal | m | M | n | n. | n^ | N | n" | | | | Trill | b<trl> | | r<trl> | | | | r" | | | | Flap | | | * | *. | | | | | | | Fricative | F V | f v | T D | s z | S Z | s. z. | C C<vcd> | x Q | X Q" | H H<vcd> | h<epg> Q<epg> | h h<vcd> | Lateral fricative | | | s<lat> z<lat> | | | | | | | | Approximant | | v<apr> | r | r. | j | j<vel> | | | | | Lateral approximant | | | l | l. | l^ | L | | | | | Implosive | b` | | d` | | J` | g` | G` | | | |

VOWELS | Front | | Central | | Back | Close | i y | | i" u" | | u- u | Semi-close | | I I. | | U | | Close-mid | e Y | | @<umd> o" | | o- o | Mid | | | @ | | | Open-mid | E W | | V" O" | | V O | Semi-open | & | | @<sml> | | | Open | a a. | | | | A A. |

CLICKS | | Bilabial | p! | Dental | t[! | Alveolar or postalveolar | t! | Palatoalveolar | c! | Alveolar lateral | l! |

EXTRA SYMBOLS | | Voiceless labial-velar fricative | w<vls> | Voiced labial-velar approximant | w | Voiced labial-palatal approximant | j<rnd> | Voiceless postalveolo-velar fricative | S" | Alveolar lateral flap | *<lat> | Alveolo-palatal fricatives | s^ z^ | THE INTERNATIONAL PHONETIC ALPHABET (revised to 2005)
A Å i y È Ë ¨u
P e e Π Ø o
E { ‰ ø O a ” å I Y U
_Front_ Central _Back
Where symbols appear in pairs, the one to the right represents a rounded vowel. oe ò
Bilabial Labiodental Dental Alveolar Post alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
Plosive p b t d Ê ∂ c Ô k g q G /
Nasal m μ n = ≠ N –
Trill ı r R
Tap or Flap v | «
Fricative F B f v T D s z S Z ß Ω ç J x V X Â © ? h H
fricative Ò L
Approximant √ ® ’ j ˜
approximant l  ¥ K
Where symbols appear in pairs, the one to the right represents a voiced consonant. Shaded areas denote articulations judged impossible.
Clicks Voiced implosives Ejectives
> Bilabial ∫ Bilabial ’ Examples:
˘ Dental Î Dental/alveolar p’ Bilabial
! (Post)alveolar ˙ Palatal t’ Dental/alveolar
¯ Palatoalveolar ƒ Velar k’ Velar
≤ Alveolar lateral Ï Uvular s’ Alveolar fricative
" Primary stress
Æ Secondary stress
… Long e…
Ú Half-long eÚ
* Extra-short e*
˘ Minor (foot) group
≤ Major (intonation) group
. Syllable break ®i.oekt
≈ Linking (absence of a break)
LEVEL CONTOUR e _or â Extra high eˆ or ä Rising e! ê High e$ ë Falling e@ î Mid e% ü High rising e~ ô Low efi ï Low rising e— û Extra low e& ñ$ Risingfalling
Õ Downstep ã Global rise õ Upstep à Global fall
© 2005 IPA
DIACRITICS Diacritics may be placed above a symbol with a descender, e.g. N(
9 Voiceless n9 d9 ª Breathy voiced bª aª 1 Dental t 1 d1
3 Voiced s3 t 3 0 Creaky voiced b0 a0 ¡ Apical t ¡ d¡
Ó Aspirated tÓ dÓ £ Linguolabial t £ d£ 4 Laminal t 4 d4
7 More rounded O7 W Labialized tW dW ) Nasalized e)
¶ Less rounded O¶ Δ Palatalized tΔ dΔ ˆ Nasal release dˆ
™ Advanced u™ ◊ Velarized t◊ d◊ ¬ Lateral release d¬
2 Retracted e2 ≥ Pharyngealized t≥ d≥ } No audible release d}
· Centralized e· ù Velarized or pharyngealized :
+ Mid-centralized e+ 6 Raised e6 ( ®6 = voiced alveolar fricative)
` Syllabic n` § Lowered e§ ( B§ = voiced bilabial approximant)
8 Non-syllabic e8 5 Advanced Tongue Root e5
± Rhoticity ´± a± ∞ Retracted Tongue Root e∞

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Assimilation of Consonant in English and of the Indefinite Article in Arabic

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Comparing Reading Programs

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