If the words given as examples for two different symbols sound the same to you (for example, if you pronounce cot and caught the same, or do and dew, or marry and merry), you can pronounce those symbols the same in explanations of all words. The footnotes explain some of these mergers. (See also Dialect variation below.)
If there is an IPA symbol you are looking for that you do not see here, see Help:IPA, which is a more complete list. For a table listing all spellings of the sounds on this page, see English orthography § Sound-to-spelling correspondences. For help converting spelling to pronunciation, see English orthography § Spelling-to-sound correspondences.
- Words in SMALL CAPITALS are the standard lexical sets. Words in the lexical sets BATH and CLOTH may be given two transcriptions, the former either with /ɑː/ or /æ/, the latter with /ɒ/ or /ɔː/.
- The length mark ढाँचा:Angbr IPA does not mean that the vowels transcribed with it are always longer than those without it. When unstressed, followed by a voiceless consonant, or in a polysyllabic word, a vowel in the former group is frequently shorter than the latter in other environments (see Clipping (phonetics) § English).
- In varieties with flapping, /t/ and sometimes also /d/ between a vowel and a weak or word-initial vowel may be pronounced with a voiced tap [ɾ], making latter sound similar or identical to ladder. Some dictionaries transcribe /t/ subject to this process as ढाँचा:Angbr IPA or ढाँचा:Angbr IPA, but they are not distinguished in this transcription system. In those varieties, the sequence /nt/ in the same environment (as in winter) may also be realized as a nasalized tap [ɾ̃], which may sound similar or identical to /n/. This is also not distinguished in this system.
- In dialects with yod dropping, /j/ in /juː/, /ju/, or /jʊər/ is not pronounced after coronal consonants (/t/, /d/, /s/, /z/, /n/, /θ/, and /l/) in the same syllable, so that dew /djuː/ is pronounced the same as do /duː/. In dialects with yod coalescence, /tj/ and /dj/ mostly merge with /tʃ/ and /dʒ/, so that the first syllable in Tuesday is pronounced the same as choose. In some dialects /sj/ and /zj/ are also affected and frequently merge with /ʃ/ and /ʒ/. Where /j/ in /juː/, /ju/, or /jʊər/ following a coronal is still pronounced in yod-dropping accents, place a syllable break before it: menu /ˈmɛn.juː/.
- The phoneme /hw/ is not distinguished from /w/ in the many dialects with the wine–whine merger, such as RP and most varieties of General American. For more information on this sound, see voiceless labialized velar approximant.
- The IPA value of the letter ढाँचा:Angbr IPA may be counterintuitive to English speakers, but the spelling is found even in some common English words like hallelujah and fjord.
- /l/ in the syllable coda, as in the words all, cold, or bottle, is pronounced as [o], [u], [w] or a similar sound in many dialects through L-vocalization.
- In most varieties of English, /r/ is pronounced as an approximant [ɹ]. Although the IPA symbol ढाँचा:Angbr IPA represents a trill, ढाँचा:Angbr IPA is widely used instead of ढाँचा:Angbr IPA in broad transcriptions of English.
- A number of English words, such as genre and garage, may be pronounced with either /ʒ/ or /dʒ/.
- In most dialects, /x/ can also be replaced by /k/ in most words, including loch. It is also replaced with /h/ in some words, particularly of Yiddish origin, such as Chanukah.
- /ɒ̃, æ̃/ are only found in French loanwords and often replaced by another vowel and a nasal consonant: bon vivant /ˌbɒn viːˈvɒnt/, ensemble /ɒnˈsɒmbəl/, etc.[क]
- /ɜː/ is only found in loanwords and represents a situation where such an r-less vowel is used only in British or Southern Hemisphere accents, and therefore a transcription that includes it must always be prefaced with a label indicating the variety of English. It is to be used only when a reliable source shows that General American has a different vowel in the same position. If r-ful NURSE is used even in GA, even if spelled without ⟨r⟩, as in Goethe and hors d'oeuvre, use /ɜːr/. /ɜː/ is also not the same as ⟨œ⟩ seen in some American dictionaries. ⟨œ⟩ in those dictionaries is merely a notational convention and does not correspond to any vowel in any accent of English, so a transcription containing ⟨œ⟩ cannot be converted to one that uses this key.
- In non-rhotic accents like RP, /r/ is not pronounced unless followed by a vowel.
- In dialects with the father–bother merger such as General American, /ɒ/ is not distinguished from /ɑː/.
- In most of the United States, /ɒr/ is merged with /ɔːr/, except for a handful of words such as borrow, tomorrow and sorry, which instead have /ɑːr/. In some parts of the Southern and Northeastern US, it is always merged with /ɑːr/. In Canada, it is always merged with /ɔːr/.
- In North America, /æ/ is often pronounced like a diphthong [eə~ɛə] before nasal consonants and, in some particular regional dialects, other environments. See /æ/ raising.
- /ær/, /ɛr/ and /ɛər/ are not distinguished in many North American accents (Mary–marry–merry merger). Some speakers merge only two of the sounds (most typically /ɛər/ with one of the short vowels) and less than a fifth of speakers of American English make a full three-way distinction, like RP and similar accents.[ख]
- In much of North America, /aɪ/ or /aʊ/ may have a slightly different quality when it precedes a voiceless consonant, as in price or mouth, from that in ride/pie or loud/how, a phenomenon known as Canadian raising. Since this occurs in a predictable fashion, it is not distinguished in this transcription system.
- In some dialects, especially in the UK, the second segment in a diphthong followed by /ə/ is often omitted. This process or lack thereof may help choose between /aɪər, aʊər, ɔɪər/ in some words (diary, admirer) and /aɪr, aʊr, ɔɪr/ in others (pirate, siren), a distinction not always clear.
- Some speakers pronounce higher, flower, mayor and coyer ("more coy") with two syllables, and hire, flour, mare and coir with one. Others pronounce them the same.
- /ɛ/ is transcribed as ढाँचा:Angbr IPA by many dictionaries.[ग] However, /eɪ/ is also sometimes transcribed as ढाँचा:Angbr IPA, especially in American literature, so ढाँचा:Angbr IPA is chosen here.
- /ɛə/, /ɪə/, or /ʊə/ may be separated from /r/ only when a stress follows it. The IPAc-en template supports /ɛəˈr/, /ɪəˈr/, /ʊəˈr/, /ɛəˌr/, /ɪəˌr/, and /ʊəˌr/ as distinct diaphonemes for such occasions.
- /ɪ/ and /oʊ/ may be strong or weak depending on context.[घ] Whether an instance of unstressed /ɪ/ is strong or weak may not be clear in some circumstances.[ङ]
- Words like idea, real, theatre, and cruel may be pronounced with /ɪə/ or /ʊə/ in non-rhotic accents such as Received Pronunciation, and some dictionaries transcribe them with /ɪə, ʊə/,[च] but since they do not stem from historical /r/ and are not pronounced with /r/ in rhotic accents, they should be transcribed with /iːə, uːə/, not with /ɪə, ʊə/, in this transcription system.
- /oʊ/ is transcribed with ढाँचा:Angbr IPA for Received Pronunciation.
- /ɔː/ is not distinguished from /ɒ/ in dialects with the cot–caught merger such as Scottish English, Canadian English and many varieties of General American. In North America, the two vowels most often fall together with /ɑː/.
- Some conservative dialects make a distinction between the vowels in horse and hoarse, but the number of speakers who make this distinction any longer is very small and many dictionaries do not differentiate between them (horse–hoarse merger). The vowel in hoarse was formerly represented as /ɔər/ on Wikipedia, but is now represented as /ɔːr/, identical to horse.
- /ʊər/ is not distinguished from /ɔːr/ in dialects with the cure–force merger, including many younger speakers. In England, the merger may not be fully consistent and may only apply to more common words. In conservative RP and Northern England English /ʊər/ is much more commonly preserved than in modern RP and Southern England English. In Australia and New Zealand, /ʊər/ does not exist as a separate phoneme and is replaced either by the sequence /uːər/ (/uːr/ before vowels within the same word, save for some compounds) or the monophthong /ɔːr/.
- Some, particularly American, dictionaries notate /ʌ/ with the same symbol as /ə/, which is found only in unstressed syllables, and distinguish it from /ə/ by marking the syllable as stressed. Also note that although ढाँचा:Angbr IPA, the IPA symbol for the open-mid back vowel, is used, the typical modern pronunciation is rather close to the near-open central vowel [ɐ] in Received Pronunciation and some other dialects.
- /ʌ/ is not used in the dialects of the northern half of England, some bordering parts of Wales, and some broad eastern Ireland accents. These words would take the /ʊ/ vowel: there is no foot–strut split.
- In Received Pronunciation, /ɜːr/ is pronounced as a lengthened schwa, [əː]. In General American, it is phonetically identical to /ər/. Some dictionaries therefore use ढाँचा:Angbr IPA instead of the conventional notations ढाँचा:Angbr IPA. When ढाँचा:Angbr IPA is used for /ɜːr/, it is distinguished from /ər/ by marking the syllable as stressed. Word-initially, /ər/ never occurs, giving way to /ɜːr/. Where there is a free variation between /ɜːr/ and /ər/ in RP, it is acceptable to transcribe only the more common variant (e.g. /ər/ for persona).
- /ʌr/ is not distinguished from /ɜːr/ in dialects with the hurry–furry merger such as General American.
- In a number of contexts, /ə/ in /ər/, /əl/, /ən/, or /əm/ is often omitted, resulting in a syllable with no vowel. Some dictionaries show /ə/ in those contexts in parentheses, superscript, or italics to indicate this possibility, or simply omit /ə/. When followed by a weak vowel, the syllable may be lost altogether, with the consonant moving to the next syllable, so that doubling /ˈdʌb.əl.ɪŋ/ may alternatively be pronounced as [ˈdʌb.lɪŋ], and Edinburgh /ˈɛd.ɪn.bər.ə/ as [ˈɛd.ɪn.brə].[ञ] When not followed by a vowel, /ər/ merges with /ə/ in non-rhotic accents.
- In accents with the weak vowel merger such as most Australian and American accents, /ɪ/ in unstressed positions is not distinguished from /ə/, making rabbit and abbot rhyme and Lenin and Lennon homophonous. Pairs like roses and Rosa's are kept distinct in American accents because of the difference in morphological structure,[छ] but may be homophonous in Australian.[ज] In these accents, unstressed /ɪl, ɪn, ɪm/ merge with /əl, ən, əm/, so that the second vowel in Latin may be lost and cabinet may be disyllabic (see the previous note).
- /oʊ/ and /u/ in unstressed, prevocalic positions are transcribed as /əw/ by Merriam-Webster, but no other dictionary uniformly follows this practice.[झ] Hence a difference between /əw/ in Merriam-Webster and /oʊ/ or /u/ in another source is most likely one in notation, not in pronunciation, so /əw/ in such cases may be better replaced with /oʊ/ or /u/ accordingly, to minimize confusion: /ˌsɪtʃəˈweɪʃən/ → /ˌsɪtʃuˈeɪʃən/, /ˈfɒləwər/ → /ˈfɒloʊər/.
- ढाँचा:Angbr IPA represents variation between /iː/ and /ɪ/ in unstressed positions. It is realized with a quality closer to /iː/ in accents with happy tensing, such as Australian English, General American, and modern RP, and to /ɪ/ in others. ढाँचा:Angbr IPA likewise represents variation between /uː/ and /ʊ/, but is restricted to not only unstressed but prevocalic positions.
- The sequence ढाँचा:Angbr IPA may be pronounced as two syllables, [i.ə] or [ɪ.ə], or as one, [jə] or [ɪə̯]. When pronounced as one syllable in a non-rhotic accent, it may be indistinguishable from, and identified as, the NEAR vowel (/ɪər/).[च] This transcription system uses ढाँचा:Angbr IPA, not ढाँचा:Angbr IPA, ढाँचा:Angbr IPA, etc., to cover all these possibilities.
- The sequence ढाँचा:Angbr IPA may be pronounced as two syllables, [u.ə] or [ʊ.ə], or as one, [wə] or [ʊə̯]. When pronounced as one syllable in a non-rhotic accent, it may be indistinguishable from, and identified as, the CURE vowel (/ʊər/).[च] This transcription system uses ढाँचा:Angbr IPA, not ढाँचा:Angbr IPA, ढाँचा:Angbr IPA, etc., to cover all these possibilities.
- The IPA stress mark ढाँचा:Angbr IPA comes before the syllable that has the stress, in contrast to stress marking in pronunciation keys of some dictionaries published in the United States.
- Syllable divisions are not usually marked, but the IPA dot ढाँचा:Angbr IPA may be used when it is wished to make explicit where a division between syllables is (or may be) made.
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