Practical English Usage

Phonetic alphabet

It is necessary to use a special alphabet to show the pronunciation of English words, because the ordinary English alphabet does not have enough letters to represent all the sounds of the language. The following list contains all the letters of the phonetic alphabet used in Practical English Usage, with examples of the words in which the sounds they refer to are found.

Vowels and diphthongs (double vowels)

seat /siːt/, feel /fiːl/
ɪ sit /sɪt/, in /ɪn/
e set /set/, any /ˈeni/
æ sat /sæt/, match /mætʃ/
ɑː march /mɑːtʃ/, after /ˈɑftə(r)/
ɒ pot /pɒt/, gone /ɡɒn/
ɔː port /pɔːt/, law /lɔː/
ʊ good /gʊd/, could /kʊd/
food /fuːd/, group /gruːp/
ʌ much /mʌtʃ/, front /frʌnt/
ɜː turn /tɜːn/, word /wɜːd/
ə away /əˈweɪ/, collect /kəˈlekt/, until /ənˈtɪl/
take /teɪk/, wait /weɪt/
mine /maɪn/, light /laɪt/
ɔɪ oil /ɔɪl/, boy /bɔɪ/
əʊ no /nəʊ/, open /ˈəʊpən/
house /haʊs/, now /naʊ/
ɪə hear /hɪə(r)/, deer /dɪə(r)/
air /eə(r)/, where /weə(r)/
ʊə tour /tʊə(r)/, endure /ɪnˈdjʊə(r)/

Consonants

p pull /pʊl/, cup /kʌp/
b bull /bʊl/, rob /rɒb/
f ferry /ˈferi/, life /laɪf/
v very /ˈveri/, live /lɪv/
θ think /θɪnk/, bath /bɑːθ/
ð then /ðen/, with /wɪð/
t take /teɪk/, set /set/
d day /deɪ/, red /red/
s sing /sɪŋ/, rice /raɪs/
z zoo /zuː/, days /deɪz/
ʃ show /ʃəʊ/, wish /wɪʃ/
ʒ pleasure /ˈpleʒə(r)/, occasion /əˈkeɪʒn/
cheap /tʃiːp/, catch /kætʃ/
jail /dʒeɪl/, bridge /brɪdʒ/
k case /keɪs/, take /teɪk/
ɡ go /ɡəʊ/, rug /rʌɡ/
m my /maɪ/, come /kʌm/
n no /nəʊ/, on /ɒn/
ŋ sing /sɪŋ/, finger /ˈfɪŋɡə(r)/
l love /lʌv/, hole /həʊl/
r round /raʊnd/, carry /ˈkæri/
w well /wel/
j young /jʌŋ/
h house /haʊs/

The sign (ˈ) shows stress. See pronunciation: stress and rhythm.


© Michael Swan 2016