The sounds of english and the international phonetic alphabet

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Phonetic spelling is a tool for pronunciation. It involves writing out words according khổng lồ how the letters và syllables are spoken. It doesn"t represent an alternate way that words can be spelled in written communication, but rather simply provides a guide for correct pronunciation.


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phonetic spelling example of ap-uhl

Uses for Phonetic Spelling

Phonetic spelling is invaluable for those who are learning to lớn speak a new language or who find themselves needing lớn pronounce hard-to-say names or other words in their own language.

Phonetic spelling is used in many situations that involve public speaking, such as the phonetic spelling of names for a graduation ceremony, announcing sports events, giving speeches, or reading the news.

Phonetic Spelling Guide

In order khổng lồ write out words based on how they are pronounced, you"ll need lớn use a phonetic spelling guide that provides ways khổng lồ write the various sounds that different letters make. You can use a phonetic symbol for each sound, or opt khổng lồ utilize IPA symbols.


Phonetic Consonant Sounds Chart

The phonetic spelling chart below illustrates standard phonetic spellings for consonant sounds commonly used in English for the highlighted letter(s) in the "sounds like" column. The third column features the IPA symbol for the consonant sound.

Phonetic Symbol for Consonant SoundSounds LikeIPA Symbol

b

boy, club

/b/

ch

children, nature

/tʃ/

d

dog, bid

/d/

dh

author, them/ð/

f

father, rough, ruff/f/

g

girl, leg, egg/ɡ/

h

him, redhead/h/

j

jazz, gender, ledge/dʒ/

k

corn, kitten, skunk, pick/h/

kh

loch, Hanukah, Chanukah/x/

l

like, fell/l/

m

mad, dam/m/

n

not, been/n/

ng

bring, sting/ŋ/

nk

drink, think/ŋk/

p

pink, lip/p/

r

ring, merry/r/

s

sit, cents, class/s/

sh

she, motion, surely, clash/ʃ/

t

stink, two, let/t/

th

this, beneath/θ/

v

vex, love/v/

w

water, awe/w/

wh

why, what/hw/

y

you, yesterday/j/

z

zip, buzz, froze, rosy/z/

zh

leisure, collision, beige /ʒ/

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Phonetic Vowel Sounds Chart

The symbols below are used lớn indicate common vowel sounds in the English language. Each symbol is used lớn represent the type of sound marked in bold in the "sounds like" column. The IPA symbol for that vowel sound is given in the third (right) column.

Phonetic Symbol for Vowel SoundSounds LikeIPA Symbol

a

bad, clap/æ/

ah or aa

bother, father

/ɑː/

air

square, lair

/ɛər/

ar

starter, barter

/ɑːr/

arr

carry, married

/ær/

aw

thought, fraught, saw

/ɔː/

ay or ai

cape, wait

/eɪ/

e or eh

pest, bless

/ɛ/

ee

flee, plea

/i/

eer

fear, deer

/ɪər/

err

berry, cherry

/ɛr/

ew

few, feud

/juː/
ewrlure, sewer/jʊər/

eye

hike, icon

/aɪ/

i or ih

skit, historic

/ɪ/
irefire, liar/aɪər/

irr

mirror, nearer

/ɪr/

o

plot, flock

/ɒ/

oh

float, lo

/oʊ/

oo

mood, boo, glue, shoe

/uː/

oor

cure tour, poor

/ʊər/

or

forth, warn

/ɔːr/

orr

lore, orange

/ɒr/

ou or ow

out, rout, south

/aʊ/
owrflour, flower/aʊər/

oy

voice, soy

/ɔɪ/

u or uh

glut, nut, mustard

/ʌ/

ur

purse, verse, hearse

/ɜːr/

urr

scurry, furry

/ʌr/
uusoot, put/ʊ/
uurrcourier, worrier/ʊr/

y

lye, hide

/aɪ/
əabout, drama/ə/
ərbetter, letter/ər/

Phonetic Spelling Examples

When words are transcribed into their phonetic spelling, dashes are used to separate syllables. Sounds that are stressed can either be bolded or written in capital letters, which is the option used below. Reviews the list of words below for a few examples of phonetic spellings and IPA transcriptions.

WordPhonetic SpellingIPA Transcription
apple

Ap-uhl

/ˈæp.əl/
bottlebOt-l/ˈbɒ.təl/
dinerdIn-uhr/ˈdɪnɚ/
eatenEEt-n/ˈitn̩/
fencefEnts/ˈfɛnts/
HannahHAN-uh/hˈanə/
JohnJon/d‍ʒˈɒn/
puppyPUH·pee/ˈpʌpi/
Sarahsehr-uh/sˈɑːɹə/
traveltrAv-l/"tɹævə/

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Phonetic Spelling Dictionary và Transcription

When you look up a word in the dictionary, it will show you one or more common phonetic spellings for the term. There are also some free online phonetic spelling converter tools you can use.

If you are learning to speak English as a second language (ESL) or if you frequently do public speaking that involves pronouncing unfamiliar words, a print guide khổng lồ the IPA can be a useful tool. The IPA for Language Learning: An Introduction lớn the International Phonetic Alphabet is a good option khổng lồ consider.


Strengthen Your Pronunciation Skills

Now that you are familiar with phonetic spelling and IPA symbols, use what you have learned khổng lồ improve your pronunciation skills. From there, explore the difference between pronunciation and enunciation so you"ll be prepared khổng lồ clearly articulate your words in addition to lớn pronouncing them correctly.