Learn how to pronounce 44 Sounds of English - with Phonetic Symbols and Keywords

Learn how to pronounce 44 Sounds of English

Introduction

English alphabet has 26 letters of the alphabet which represent 44 sounds. This means to say, one letter of the alphabet stands for more than one sound, and conversely, the same sound is represented by different letters of the alphabet. Thus, there is no one to one correspondence between the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they represent, which make English an unphonetic language. This also explains the need to be acquainted with IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) symbols.

This article takes you through a detailed understanding of the Sounds of English. As mentioned in the first paragraph, the 26 alphabet represent 44 sounds in English.

The 44 sounds include - 12 Vowel Sounds, 8 Diphthongs, and 24 Consonants Sounds.

The below tables explain to you all the Sounds of English as per the International Phonetic Association (IPA)


Sounds of English

Vowel Sounds (12)

Sl.
No

Vowel
Sounds

Keywords

I

M

F

1

/I:/, /i:/

eat

beneath

Tree

2

/I/, /i/

it, in, inn

bid,

me, he, she

3

/e/

egg,

elephant

dress, bed, head, many

-

4

/æ/

act

bad, mat

-

5

/a:/

art, arm,

start, father

car, bar

6

/ ɒ /

odd

lot, cot

-

7

/ ɔ: /

all

tall, ball

four, more, door

8

/u/

-

foot, good, put

to, who,

9

/u:/

Ooze

goose,

two, boo, loo, too

10

/ ʌ /

under, udder,
utter

but, cut, nut

-

11

/3:/, /ə:/

urn, earn,

curl, furl, bird

fur, cur

12

/ə/

about, again,

police, standard

colour, mother, sister,
butt
er



Diphthongs (8)

Diphthongs

Sl. No.

Symbols

Keywords


1


/ei/


say /sei/
hate /h
eit/
rate /r
eit/
pain /p
ein/


2


/ai/


high /hai/
tie /t
ai/
die /d
ai/
lie /l
ai/


3


/ɒi/


boy /bɒi /
toy /tɒ
i/
coy /kɒ
i /


4


/əu/


no /nəu/
go /g
əu/
row /r
əu/
bow /
b«u/


5


/au/


cow /kau/
now /n
au/
how /h
au/
bow /b
au/


6


/iə/


beer /b/
near /n
/
dear /d
/


7


/uə/


fewer /fjuə/
cure /kju
ə/
tour /tu
ə/
sure /
uə/


8


/eə/


bear /b/
care /k
/
hair /h
/
mare /m
/



Consonant Sounds (24)

Sl. No.

Consonant sounds

Keywords

Voiced / Voiceless

1

/p/

pen, copy, happen, cap, map

voiceless

2

/b/

back, baby, job

voiced

3

/t/

tea, tight, button

voiceless

4

/d/

day, ladder, odd

voiced

5

/tʃ /

church, match, nature

voiceless

6

/dʒ/

judge, age, soldier

voiced

7

/k/

key, clock, school

voiceless

8

/g/

get, giggle, ghost

voiced

9

/f/

fat, coffee, rough, photo

voiceless

10

/v/

view, heavy, move

voiced

11

/Ɵ/

thing, author, path

voiceless

12

/ ð /

this, other, smooth

voiced

13

/s/

soon, cease, sister

voiceless

14

/z/

zero, music, roses, buzz

voiced

15

/ ʃ /

ship, sure, national

voiceless

16

/ʒ/

pleasure, vision

voiced

17

/h/

hot, whole, ahead

voiceless

18

/m/

more, hammer, sum

voiced

19

/n/

nice, know, funny, sun

voiced

20

/ ŋ /

ring, anger, sung, bank

voiced

21

/l/

light, valley, feel

voiced

22

/r/

right, wrong, sorry, arrange

voiced

23

/ј/

yet, use, yell, pupil

voiced

24

/w/

wet, when, between, queen

voiced






























































RP Phonemes: Pronunciation Tips (video)

Watch this video from BBC Learning English completely and practice the sounds accordingly.

Pronunciation of sound ‘r’

  • If a word ends with ‘r’ we should not pronounce the ‘r’ sound.
  • If a word ends with ‘r’ and the next word begins with a vowel sound we need to pronounce the sound ‘r’.
  • If ‘r’ is followed by a consonant sound we should not pronounce the sound ‘r’.

Pronunciation of 'The'

‘The’ is pronounced as / ði / when it is followed by a vowel sound.
e.g.: / ði / orange or if it refers to any particular object.

‘The’ is pronounced as /ðə/ when it is followed by a consonant sound
for e.g.: This is /ðə/ book on Phonetics.


Sounds used in past tense

/t/, /d/, /id/

If the root word ends with a voiced consonant, the ‘d’ or ‘ed’ takes /d/ sound.
e.g.: listened, arranged, informed, killed, moved, turned, lived remained.

If the root word ends with /t/ and /d/ sound, the ‘ed’ takes /id/ sound.
e.g.: deserted, added, bonded.


Sounds used in plural forms

We add ‘s’ or ‘es’ to make plural nouns and to express third person singular. This is pronounced in different ways /s/, /z/, /iz/.

If the root word ends with voiceless consonants, it takes /s/ sound.
e.g. packs, caps, helps

If the root word ends with voiced consonants or vowel sounds, it takes /z/ sound
e.g. bags, boys, girls

If the root word ends with /s/, /z/, / ʃ /, / tʃ / / dʒ/, it takes /iz/ sound
e.g. roses, benches, bushes, judges, passes


Practice yourself

Crossword

Complete this crossword with the phonemic spelling of these verbs. Use the symbols from the sound menu. Two of the verbs have been written for you.

put, fall, make, take, sing, pick, paid, meet, sail, taught, hurt, took, fight

3 Comments

  1. If the root word ends with a voiceless consonant, the ‘d’ or ‘ed’ takes /d/ sound.
    Plz check and correct it not all voiceless consonant
    Becouse as u mentioned the examples above n m v are not voiceless consonant but they are voice consonant respectively.

    ReplyDelete
  2. If the root word ends with a voiceless consonant, the ‘d’ or ‘ed’ takes /d/ sound.
    Plz check and correct it not all voiceless consonant
    Becouse as u mentioned the examples above n m v are not voiceless consonant but they are voice consonant respectively.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello,

      Thank you for you valuable comment. It was a typo. I just corrected it. Please check now. Thanks again!

      Delete
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