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English phonemes

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In phonology, a phoneme is a distinct unit of sound (phone) by means of which words are distinguished, and spellings are ways of writing these sounds. English phonemes have different spellings depending on a word's provenance and history.

In the following list, the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbol for each phoneme is shown first, followed by all its spellings, or graphemes, and a number of examples of each. Where those examples are few, it is because the spelling is rare and they are the only ones.

The pronunciations are those of the language's two main varieties: American English (AmE), where r is pronounced before a consonant, and British and Commonwealth English (BrE), where it is not.

The áccents on bold example words indicate stressed vowels and their pronunciation. An equals sign shows homophones, with words in italics suggesting meaning: sêen saw = scêne scenic, drama, crime. The bullet (●) represents any consonant. An asterisk before a word indicates that it is a respelling to show pronunciation, and thus wrongly (*róngly) spelt. Respellings use typical unambiguous spellings using the normal alphabet plus schwa (ə).

Contents

Vowels and diphthongs

IPA /i:/ as in sêa: ê, êa, êe, ê●e, êi, ìê, aê, oê, ì, ỳ, êỳ, êo

ê: bê, mê, récipê, catástrophê, Penélopê, Lêthê, hypërbolê, mêthane, sêrum, dêvious, mêdia, rêtail, dêmon, Êly, mêtre BrE distance, poem

êa: sêa water, lêave, hêat, sêat, bêat hit, nêat, êasy, mêal, drêam, têam, hêath

êe: sêe vision frêe, trêe, fêel, whêel, grêed, fêed, spêed, bêet sugar êel, rêel

ê●e: Pêter, scêne, êven, fêver, mêter AmE (BrE has mêter for the machine, but mêtre for the distance), complête, compête

êi: after c: percêive, recêive, recêipt (-êit), concêit, concêive, cêiling; after w: wêird, wêir (but: wìêld); sêize, Shêila, Nêil, Nêill, O´Nêill

ìê: before v: belìêve, relìêve, grìêve

: stressed, from Greek (BrE; AmE has ê alone): Aêschylus, encyclopaêdia; unstressed in Latin plurals: nébulae, nôvae, fŏrmulae

: BrE (AmE has ê alone) from Greek: Oêdipus, amoêba, foêtus, oêstrogen, oenólogy, subpoêna

ì: from French: machìne, Christìne, magazìne, nìche, elìte

: normally unstressed: fúnny, sílly, crâzy, lâzy, êasy, wítty, dextérity, Yvétte, Yvónne; rarely stressed: Lỳón, Lỳse, Mervỳna

êỳ: unstressed: nôsey, pôsey, láckey, jóckey, balôney, álley, Hàrvey

êo: pêople

IPA /ɪ/ sít: í, ý, u, o, e, ', eí, íe

This is one of the six short vowel sounds, á, é, í, ó, ú and ù, that never occur finally.

í: sít, fít, sítter, fítter, fítting, bít, líd, híd, bíd, stíll, bíll = Bíll, Wílliam, fíll, línt, tínt, wríst, pín, tílt, míddle, ínch, fíg, bíg

ý: týpical, sýnthesis, sýnagogue, sýmptom, cýst, mýstic, mýth, trýst, Dýlan

u: business, busy

o: women

e: unstressed, after 'z' sound: Jôneses, Bíggses, after 'ss' sound: Báxes, táxes, cópses, fléxes

: unstressed, after 'z' sound: jázz's, Jônes’s, Bíggs’s, after 'ss' sound: Báx’s, Bíx's, Díx's, Éssex's, Grāss's

: unstressed -feít: còunterfeít, fŏrfeít, sürfeít

íe: unstressed: pàrtíes, fámilíes, lórríes, cárríes, cárríed, márríed, pólicíes

IPA /e/ béd: é, éa, ai, u

This is one of the six short vowel sounds, á, é, í, ó, ú and ù, that never occur finally.

é: béd, Néd, wét, sét, pén, hén, méss, dréss, pép, séven, eléven, Dévon, Édward, Téd, bréd breed, cléver, éver, évery, néver, tén, ténth, dén, crést

éa: déath, bréath, bréast, déad, héad, bréad food, héaven, thréat, thréaten

ai: said (*séd)

u: bury ground (= bérry fruit)

IPA /æ/ cát: á

This is one of the six short vowel sounds, á, é, í, ó, ú and ù, that never occur finally.

fát, cát, sát, mát, Ánthony, ánt, bág, dágger, fán, pán, áttic, spásm, cáttle, brásh, ásh, válve, válue, Sálly

redundant i in: pláit

redundant e in Gáelic Scotland = Gállic France (cf. Gâelic Ireland)

American English uses a long version of á instead of BrE à, except in fàther, Coloràdo, Chicàgo, pajàmas (BrE pyjàmas), càlm, quàlm, bàlm, àlms or when an r follows.

IPA /ɑ/ càr: à, àr, àl, ó

This sound replaces the BrE-only sound of ó in American English. Words with à in both British and American are:

à: fàther, Chicàgo, Coloràdo, AmE pajàmas, BrE pyjàmas, Tuvàlu, Baràck Obàma (where, however, some BrE speakers instead say bárrack army)

al: (silent l) càlm, bàlm, quàlm, àlms

and whenever an r (always heard in AmE, silent final or before a consonant in BrE) follows:

àr: màr = Màrr, bàr, càr, vàrnish, pàrk, màrvel, stàr, scàr, bizàrre, hàrm, àrm, fàr, càrt, fàrmer, scàr, pàrt, màrk, stàrch, pàrch, màrch, hàrd, gàrden, làrge

/ɑ/ (à) v. /æ/ (á)

The following are pronounced á in AmE but à in BrE (some Northern BrE has a shorter á, however):

ā: Irān, Irāq, cān’t, grānt, āfter, crāft, lāugh, grāph, āunt, dānce

before s: pāst, fāst, cāstle, māster, clāss, ghāstly, nāsty, grāss, lāst, plāster, cāst, pāss, tāsk, blāst, āsk

before th: rāther, pāth, bāth, rāther, lāther

āl, with silent l: hālf, cālf, hālve

IPA /ɒ/ dóg: ó

This is one of the six short vowel sounds, á, é, í, ó, ú and ù, that never occur finally. It is BrE only: AmE replaces this sound with à.

(Thus AmE pronounces the first words of Lós Ángeles and Làs Vègas the same: this is confusing for BrE speakers, who are as likely to say Lás Vègas, like láss girl, or, perhaps more commonly, "Lós Vègas", like the BrE lóss lose. Also, in AmE, Stefón is a variant spelling of Stefàn.)

ó: hót, gót, spót, bóther, dóg, dóll, nót, stóp, lóst, óften, slób, slóppy, cróss, nód, ódd, shóne, óff, tóffee

ough as -óff: cóugh, tróugh

a after : ẁant, ẁas, ẁash, ẁasp, ẁarren, ẁander, ẁarrant

after ẁh: ẁhat

after sẁ: sẁap, sẁan, sẁab, sẁamp

after : qùantity, qùantum, qùad, qùash, sqùash, sqùad, sqùabble

  • Words that have the pattern -or- or -orr- followed by another vowel have the above sound in British English but the following sound in American. Example are BrE hórrible, hórror, tórrid, órifice, tomórrow, sórry, where in all cases the ó is ŏ in AmE.

IPA /ɔ/ såw: å, åw, åu, åugh, ŏr, ŏre, ŏrps, ŏor, ŏa, ŏur, ŏugh

The r that often occurs after this sound as ŏr is silent in BrE before a consonant, but sounded in AmE.

å: wåter, ålso, Målvern, Sålisbury (*Sålzbry), unstressed in althôugh

before lk: chålk, tålk, stålk, wålk, bålk

before ll: åll, fåll, tåll, båll, apåll, påll, cåll

before lt: ålter, fålter, Wålter, hålt, sålt, althôugh

åw: såw, see, tool, åwful, bråwl, cråwl, fåwn colour, deer, grovel, bråwn, clåw, påw animal, swårm, wårm, wårn, wård, jåw, Shåw, måw

åu: cåuse, påuse, fåult, exhåust, fåun god

åugh: cåught, tåught, åught, nåughty, Wåugh, Våughan = Våughn, Måugham

ŏr: ŏr either, fŏr, nŏr, cóndŏr, fŏrt, pŏrt, sŏrt, shŏrt, whŏrl

ŏre: ŏre metal, cŏre centre, gŏre, pŏre skin, scŏre, sŏre pain, bŏre tedium, hole, ignŏre, deplŏre, restŏre, whŏre (h-), mŏre extra

ŏrps: cŏrps army

ŏor: dŏor, pŏor broke, unfortunate, flŏor, bŏor rude, mŏor land

ŏa: brŏad, abrŏad, brŏadcast

ŏar: ŏar boat, bŏar animal, sŏar fly

ŏur: fŏur, pŏur, mŏurn, tŏurnament

ŏugh: fŏught, bŏught, sŏught, brŏught

  • Some words that have this sound in American English have ó in British English. All involve a following r. See the end of the preceding section for examples.

IPA /ʊ/ pùt: ù, oò, oùl, où, o

This is one of the six short vowel sounds, á, é, í, ó, ú and ù, that never occur finally. It is BrE only: AmE replaces this sound with a stressed schwa, /ə/.

ù: pùt, fùll, pùsh, bùsh, bùll, pùll, cùshion

: goòd, woòd, soòt, foòt, woòl

oùl: shoùld, coùld, woùld

: poùffe

o: woman, wolf

IPA /(j)u:/ trûe: û, ûe, û●e, ûi, oû, oûgh, oô, eŵ, ŵ, o

The long û grapheme repesents two phonemes, /uː/ and /juː/, with various distributions on either side of the Atlantic. For a full discussion of this, see the article on the letter U.

û: gnû, Stû, flû ill, gùrû, êmû, pûny, Mûnich, jûry, Trûdi, dûbious, rûling, mûtiny, nûtrient, trûth, Rûth

ûe: flûe chimney, trûe, blûe colour, glûe, cûe drama, billiards = queûe wait (*kyû)

û•e: Jûne, jûte, flûte, tûne, dûpe, Drûse, fûneral

ûi: frûit, jûice, slûice, crûise

: groûp, soûp, coûp hit (= coô)

oûgh: throûgh

: oôh, shoô, soôn, foôd, broôd, foôl, schoôl, toôl, moôn, troôp, loôp, droôp, loôse, choôse, groôvy, loôt, toô also, much, coô bird

: neŵ, neŵs, vieŵ, cheŵ, revieŵ, Jeŵ, bleŵ blow

ŵ: unstressed in Rwánda

ŵo: tŵo 2

o: do, who (*hû) shoe, lose, move, prove, to particle

IPA /ʌ/ cúp: ú, oú, ò, òo

This is one of the six short vowel sounds, á, é, í, ó, ú and ù, that never occur finally. It is BrE only: in AmE, it is replaced by a stressed schwa, /ə/, while in demotic speech in northern England, it is replaced by ù, /ʊ/.

ú: nút, cúp, slút, túck, spún, fún, dúst, rúst, búst, sún, múck, súck, dúck, BrE cúrrent

: doúble, troúble, soúthern; (-úff:) toúgh, enoúgh, roúgh

ò after w: wònder, wòn win, BrE wòrry

before n: frònt, dòne, nòne, òne 1 (invisible w-: = wòn)

before -ve: lòve, shòve, glòve, dòve

before -ther: òther, anòther, mòther, bròther, smòther (cf. bóther)

òo: before d: flòod, blòod

IPA /ɜ:/ hër: ër, ëar, ïr, ür, ÿr, ör, öur

As with the preceding, this sound does not exist in American English, being replaced by a stressed version of schwa, always with the -r sounded. Many African English speakers also do not use it, replacing it with à (r silent).

ër: hër, wëre, përson, vërve, vërdant, sërvant, jërk, fërn, hërd, tërn bird

ëar: hëard, lëarn, yëarn, hëarse, rehëarse, ëarl, pëarl, dëarth

ïr: fïrst, bïrd, dïrt, gïrl, quïrk, ïrk, stïr, whïrr, dïrt, shïrt, skïrt, flïrt, cïrcus, cïrcle, cïrcuit, bïrth, gïrth, fïrm, fïr

ür: bürn, türn round, absürd, chürch, Türk, fürtive, blürt, spürt, hürt, nürse, AmE cürrent (BrE cúrrent), cürtsey

ÿr: mÿrtle, mÿrrh, Bÿrd

ör: only after w: wörld, wörk, wörse, wörst, wörm, wörd, AmE wörry (BrE wòrry)

öur: in -jöurn- and cöurt-: jöurney, jöurnal, adjöurn, cöurteous, cöurtesy

IPA /ə/, the schwa sound

An example of schwa (*shwà) is the neutral grunt which begins the word abòut (*əbòut). A shorter version of /ɜ/, never stressed, it can be spelt a, e, o or, less often, u, and in Australian and New Zealand English, i, with or without a following r (which is silent in British and Commonwealth English if not followed by another vowel). It also appears as y in Béryl, Síbyl and síbyllîne—and it can be invisible before liquids (i.e. r and l). It even appears as ough in British English: thòrough (*thúrra, AmE *thürrôw).

First syllable: agô, ahéad, abòut, again (*əgén), abòve, upón and in names beginning Mac- such as MacNêill—or with the a invisible: McNêill (*Məcnêəl); and monosyllables, in which schwa is the only vowel: a (schwa alone, weak form of indefinite article that has the rare strong form â) = uh (schwa alone, silent h: American version of brief hesitation word) = er (schwa alone, silent r: British version of same, though this combination can also represent a longer hesitation ër) = are (in British English schwa alone, weak form of àre, r pronounced in American here and in following) = or (in British schwa alone, weak form of ŏr); for (weak form of fŏr), were (BrE *wə, AmE *wər, weak form of wëre), to (weak form of to *tû = toô = two), your (weak form of yŏur, sometimes spelt yer), sir (weak form of sïr, especially in names such as Sir Jóhn), and huh (mostly American, h sound + schwa sound)

Second syllable: ígnorance, pébble, doùble, Chîna, sêater, víctor, bürsar, quérulous, lêmur, fêmur, vísion, nâtion (-sion and -tion always have schwa), Cânaan (double a), dógs’re (informal use of apostrophe)

Third syllable: ígnorance, decîder, Éxeter, Pámela, precürsor, exémplar, ridículous, invâsion

Fourth syllable: América, Tanzanìa, exécutor, cálculator, álligator, unbelìêver, abnegâtion

Fifth syllable: preváricator, prevaricâtion, extërminator

As a word becomes more common, a schwa contained in it may be elided into silence: compare nôtional, which has a schwa for the second o, *nôshənəl, with the much more common nátional, which is usually heard without it: *náshnəl.

There is an unwritten ("invisible") schwa before the liquid sounds r (even silent r as in BrE) and l, as in cãre (which rhymes with prãyer), lãir (which is a one-syllable version of lâyer), ŏil (which rhymes with lŏyal), whîle (*wîyəl), fâil (*fâyəl), sêal (*sêeyəl), knêel down = Nêil, Nêill names (*Nêəl), líttle (as -le), céntre (as -re, BrE, AmE -er).

An unusual invisible schwa is found in Mnûchin *Mənûchin.

IPA /eɪ/ sây: â, âi, ây, â●e, âe, âigh, âu, eâ, èy, èi, èigh, è●e

â: grâvy, pâcy, grâcious, nâval, navy, nâvy, ânal, zâny, stâble, crâving, bâgel, potâto, râzor, BrE vâpour, AmE vâpor

â●e: sâme, gâme, câme, sâve, bâse, trâce, pâce, crâve, lâser, hâver, râve, nâvel stomach Jâmes, hâzel, pâge, nâme, tâme, fâme, flâme, hâte, gâte open, fâte, lâte, wâde, câve, brâve, stâge, grâde, phâse time, moon = fâze confuse, jâde, fâde, brâke speed, lâne road, bâne, mâne horse, gâte open, hâte loathe, wâve hand

âi before l: nâil, âil, quâil, fâil, wâil, tâil, tâilor, Tâylor

before n: pâin, stâin, grâin, trâin, brâin, drâin, lâin lie, detâin, retâin, remâin, Câin, mâin chief, Mâine

before m: âim, clâim, mâim, clâim

before d: âid, mâid, râid

before g: Crâig, Hâig, Hâigh (= Hâgue)

before t: gâit walk, trâit, trâitor

also: wâif, mâize, wâive dismiss

ây final: dây, sây, plây, jây, delây, wây, trây, brây hây, prây prayer, slây kill

before -er: lâyer, slâyer, gâinsâyer (but not prãyer)

âe: Gâelic Ireland, Ísrâel, mâelstrom, phâeton

âigh: strâight, Hâight Ashbury

âu: gâuge

: greât, breâk pieces, off

èy: thèy, grèy, Lèyton, whèy, fèy, prèy on

èi: vèin, vèil, bèige, rèin ride

èigh final: invèigh, nèigh, slèigh snow

before t: wèight, frèight, èight

è●e: crèpe

IPA /əʊ/ gô: ô, ôa, ôe, ô•e, ôu, ôugh, ôw, ew

ôe final: tôe, dôe, Côe, fôe, hôe, Jôe, Pôe, rôe, wôe, Defôe, flôe ice

ô●e: hôme, vôte, nôte, bôde, explôde, nôde, tône, lône, cône, pôle wood, jôke, dôze, Rôme city, rôte routine = wrôte write, nôse, expôse, brôke, spôke, brôken, spôken, tôken

plus -r: ôver, Dôver, clôver, Grôver, grôcer, vôter

-or substituted for -er: rôtor, môtor, dônor

ô with Latin-style suffixes: hôkum, fôcus, hôcus-pôcus, côca, Rôma

plus y, etc.: pôny, hôly, Tôny, dôzy, rôly-pôly, nôsey, bôgey, phôney (or phony), Jôdie, Jôdy, Jôni, Jôannie, BrE côsy, AmE côzy

ôw: sôw seed, knôw knowledge, slôw, grôw, bestôw, flôw water, Ôwen, môw, lôw down, crôw, thrôw, glôw

final: therefore, not, gô, frô, lô behold, cô-

oûgh: dôugh bread, althôugh, thôugh

also: grôss, bôth

ôh: ôh, dôh, sôh music

before l, -ld (can be /ɒʊ/): pôll vote, sôul, , ôld, côld, gôld, hôld, sôld

ôa before l: fôal, gôal

before t: gôat, côat, ôat, stôat, bôat, flôat

before k: clôak, ôak

before d: gôad, tôad, rôad

before f: ôaf, lôaf

before m: rôam wander (= Rôme), glôam

ew: sew needle

IPA /aɪ/ tîe: î, îe, î●e, îgh, îg, ŷ, ŷ●e, ŷe, eî

î: Î me, greeting, crîsis, Îsis, Chrîst, fîery, wîry, shîny, tîny, lîme, sublîme

unstressed: álibî, nûclêî, fránchîse, mërchandîse

îe final: vîe, lîe, dîe dead, tîe

î●e: îce, nîce, tîme, fîne, lîne, slîme, twîce, lîce, rîpe, swîpe, smîle, stîle field

îgh: final: hîgh up, sîgh, nîgh

before t: tîght, frîght, brîght, nîght, plîght, sîght

îg before n: sîgn, resîgn, desîgn

in place names: Caîro, Thaîland, Dubaî, Sînaî

ŷ: flŷ, bŷ, whŷ, trŷ, rhŷme, spŷ, drŷ, sprŷ, relŷ, denŷ, defŷ, stŷ pig, eye

from -îe before -íng: vŷing, lŷing, dŷing, tŷing (from vîe, lîe, dîe, tîe, cf. trŷing, crŷing)

ŷ●ê: tŷpe, stŷle mode

ŷe: stŷe eye, eŷe sight, aŷe yes, dŷe colour

: heîght, Fáhrenheît, seîsmic, O’Reîlly, feîsty, BrE eîther, BrE neîther

IPA /aʊ/ nòw: òu, òugh, òw, àù, ào

Mostly òu and òw, contrasting with the other sounds of these spellings, and ôw (yoû and thrôw). òu has a variation with silent -gh (as does : throûgh):

òu: òut, fòul bad, blòuse, tròusers, clòud, thòu, clòut, pròud, wòund wînd, gròund, mòunt, mòuntain, jòust, fòund, dòubt (*dòut), lòuse insect

òugh final: bòugh tree, slòugh swamp = Slòugh town, BrE plòugh

òw final: hòw, nòw, còw, vòw, wòw, bòw down, sòw pig, AmE plòw

before n: bròwn, tòwn, dòwn, fròwn, cròwn, dròwn, renòwn

before l: fòwl bird, òwl, tròwel

before y: dòwry, Lòwry, Bòwery, fròwsty

àù, from German, etc.: àùtobàhn, sàùerkràùt, Sàùdi, Bíssàù, Nàssàù

ào from Chinese, etc.: Mào, Tào, Jào, Làos country

IPA /ɔɪ/ bŏy: ŏi, ŏy

ŏi before n: jŏin, cŏin, rejŏin, lŏin

before l: fŏil, bŏil, tŏil, spŏil

before ce: rejŏice, vŏice

before st: clŏister, hŏist, jŏist

before t: quŏits, BrE gŏitre, AmE gŏiter

ŏy final: bŏy, jŏy, tŏy, deplŏy, Rŏy, Trŏy, destrŏy

before st: ŏyster

before l: lŏyal, rŏyal

IPA /ɪə(r)/ êar: êar, êer, êre, ìêr, êir

êar: êar, hêar ear, nêar, têar cry, fêar, Pêarson, drêary, wêary, blêary

êer: bêer, quêer, vêer, lêer, venêer, êerie

êre: hêre there, mêre, revêre, wê’re we are

ìêr: tìêr seats, frontìêr, piêrce

êir: wêird, wêir water

IPA /eə(r)/ rãre: ãre, ãir, ãyr, ãyer, éãr, ére

ãre: fãre money, food, spãre, shãre, pãre cut, bãre nude, cãre, wãres goods, stãre look

ãr: before y: wãry, vãry, scãry, Mãry

before i: vâriable, shãring

ãir: final: ãir breathe, hãir, fãir reasonable, fun, lãir, stãir step, flãir

before y: fãiry, hãiry

ãyr: Ãyrshire

ãyer: prãyer, Ãyer, Ãyers; this spelling is normally -âyer, however

éãr: béãr animal, tolerate, carry, téãr rip, wéãr clothes, péãr fruit

ére: whére place, thére here, ére before

IPA /(j)ʊə(r)/ pûre: ûre, ûr, eûr, eŵr

ûre: pûre, cûre, abjûre, lûre, Ûre

ûr: dûring, dûrable, cûrable, pûrest, fûry, fûrious, jûror, jûry court, Ûrals, Arctûrus, Epicûrus, mûral

eûr: neûron, neurótic, Eûrope

eŵr: Jeŵry Jew, Neŵry

/(j)ʊə(r)/ is absent in some dialects, which pronounce it as /(j)ɔ/.

IPA /aɪə(r)/ fîre: îr, îar, îer, îre, ŷr, ŷre

îr: fîry, wîry, choîr, and optionally (otherwise /aɪr/) in îrony, Mîra, Hîram

îre: fîre, wîre, desîre, mîre, spîre, îre, irâte

îar: lîar lie, brîar

îer: fîery

ŷr before a: gŷrate, Mŷra, tŷrant

before o: gŷroscope, pyromânia, pyrotéchnic, tŷro

ŷre: lŷre music, pŷre

Consonants

IPA /p/ p, pp

p: píll, pùt, pâper, hôped, cláp, píp, stóp, úp, soûp, droôp, wêep, peêp, híp

pp: pépper, stópped, hópped, clápping, rípper, ápple, rípple, púppy, cópper

IPA /b/ b, bb

b: bŏy, bâke, bîcycle, bâsin, mób, bàrber, snób, snúb, húsband, róbin, bíscuit, bénd, bāth, ablâze, âble, troúble, mâybe, ôbôe

bb: rúbber, ríbbon, ábbey, ébb, róbber, dúbbed, rábbit, Bóbby, búbble

IPA /t/ t, tt, bt, pt, ed, th

t: tín, tén, toô, trâin, tót, trîte, tríp, tâste, déft, bít, hát, côat, bôat, àrt, tàrt, flïrt, átmosphere

tt: bétter, létter, cáttle, báttle, bóttle, ráttle, bétting, sétting, kéttle, néttle, cátty, bátty, tátty, Bétty, pótty, atténtion

ed, inflexion of past tense verbs after unvoiced consonants: āsked, slípped, hôped, áxed, hélped, chānced, kícked, stópped, lócked, cáshed, míxed, âped, grôssed

bt: dòubt, débt, súbtle

pt: recêipt, ptàrmigan, Ptómely, pterodáctyl

th: Kathmandû, Ánthony (= Ántony, a less common variant, as in Màrk Ántony)

IPA /d/ d, dd

d: dím, dénse, dîce, dúll, rêad, réad = réd, nêed, stéady, réady, héad, Êden, lâden, rámmed, fílled (ed not 't' after voiced sound, compare above)

dd: rúdder, ádder, ládder, rúdder, kídding, ríddance, Éddie, dóddle, gíddy

IPA /k/ k, ck, c, cc, ch, cq, q, g, kk

k: kíll, Kenneth, boòk, loòk, dàrk, mêek, pêak, àrk Noah, ínk, thínk, ránk

ck, not initial: báck, néck, síck, déck, píck, wíck, wícked, máckintosh, féckless, réckless, gécko, décker bus = Décker person, tick correct

c before back vowels a, o and u (and also in encephalîtis): cát animal, cán, còme, câter, cút, cárry, cãre, crâter, crâne, curve, cómmon, cót, confûse, cóntrary, contémporary, and finally: àrc, plástic, tíc twitch

cc pronounced 'k' only: sóccer, accrûe, occür, áccolade, and pronounced 'ks': áccident, áccess, accêde, cóccyx

ch: láchrymose, chŏrd, âche, écho, páchydërm

cq: acquîre, acquâint, acquiésce

q: Sádiq, Táriq, Qátar, qát drug

qu sounding like 'kw': quêen, requîre, quîet, quîte, quést, exquísite, líquid

qu as 'k' sound alone: líquor (*líkker), unìque (-êek), Jácqueline (*Jácklêen or = Jácklín)

g (for some speakers): léngth

kk: púkka, Dékker person

IPA /g/ g, gg

g: dóg, gún, bíg, ángle, fínger, dângle, ôgle, pâgan, flágon, drágon, bôgus

gg: égg, bígger, nóggin, dágger, dígging, flágging, nágged, bógged, flógged

IPA /tʃ/ ch, tch, c

ch: choôse, cheêse, beêch tree = bêach sand, chóp, cheêr, lúnch, châse

final after r: lürch, përch, àrch, màrch = Màrch, besmïrch

tch: ítch, ítchy, fétch, pátch, ẁatch, dítch, wítch, scótch, kétchup, nótch, and from Russian, etc., Pétrovi(t)ch, Mikhaîlovi(t)ch, and other patronymics

initial only in a few imported names: Tchaikóvsky, Tchicaî

c in -ic ending of names from Serbian, etc.: Ivanísevic, Ivánovic, Pílic, Káradjic, Milósevic

also: céllo

IPA /dʒ/ j, dj, g, dg, gg, du, di

j: Jâne, jélly, Jáck, jôke, Jóhn, Jônes, Jím James, jërsey = Jërsey, jejeûne, jàr, ajàr, jêep, Jûlie, Julŷ, môjo, cajôle, rejéct, jíngle, jángle, júngle, jîbe, jûry

dj: adjúst, adjöurn, ádjective, ádjúnct, Djiboûti, Abidján

g before e: géntle, âge, râge, gênius, gërm, Gërmany, pígeon, dúngeon, stürgeon, Nigêria, genétic, géneral, géntle, págeant

before i: gîant, gínger, giráffe, gímcrack

before y: gyrâte, gŷroscope, gým gymnasium, gýpsum

dg before e: brídge, édge, hédge, bádger, bádge, búdge, fúdge, cúdgel, dódge, Hódges, lódger, fídget, mídget, dúdgeon, búdgerigar, bádger

before i: cádging, lódging, búdgie

before y: pódgy, dódgy, édgy, púdgy

gg: exággerate

du: dûring, duréss, dûal two = dûel fight (= jeŵel crown) ŏrdure

di: sôldier

IPA /f/ f, ff, ph, gh, ft

f: fêel, frŷ, frêe, fróg, fâke, fâith, óften, déaf, fít, íf, fŏrce, fåll

ff: óff, éffort, búffer, óffal, clíff, stíff, búff, púff, óffer, óffing

ph: Phílip, grāph, phâse, élephant, philósopher, hîeroglýph, zéphyr

gh: after ou: toúgh, enoúgh, roúgh, cóugh, tróugh

ft: óften, sóften

IPA /v/ v, vv, f, ph

v: vieŵ, véry, vãry, shâve, háve, drîve, vâgue, vôte, vâcant, vîolent, Stêven, vāst, vãrious, avër, còver, hóver, ôver, léaven, lêave, wêave

vv: flívver, révved, bóvver

f: óf

ph: Stêphen

IPA /θ/ unvoiced th

thíck, thín, trûth, Rûth, rûthless, bréath, ûndernêath, thínk, píthy, ísthmus, bôth, lôth or lôath, bréath, wrêath, déath, mòuth noun

This sound is absent from some dialects, which pronounce it as f.

IPA /ð/ voiced th, dh

th: thén, thére, thís, thát, thús, thôugh, thêrefore, òther, bròther, mòther, wíth, brêathe, wrêathe, lôathe, clôthe BrE eîther AmE êither, wéather clouds = whéther if, mòuth verb

dh: Rìyadh, édh

This sound is absent from some dialects, which pronounce it as v.

IPA /s/ s, ss, sc, st, c, ps

s: sêe, såw, sêen, sôap, séven, séptic, sêrial drama, sŏurce, spécial, ûse noun, ûsage, āsk, flāsk, tāsk, bāsk, désk, whísk, dúsk

ss: máss, lóss, drôss, grôss, méssy, véssel, hássle, guéss, dréss, kíss, híss

sc scêne, scéptre, coalésce, acquiésce

st: whístle, lísten, grístle, mústn’t, hâsten, hústle, bústle, fāsten, cāstle

c before front vowels: nîce, îce, fâce, cêreal breakfast, spâcy, lícit, âce

ps: pseûd, psychólogy, psŷche

IPA /z/ z, zz, s

z: zoô, zône, zíp, hâzel, prétzel, ôzone, ádze, dôze, AmE côzy, râzor

zz: búzz, fízz, dázzle, púzzle, núzzle, jázz, whízz, búzzer

s: ûse verb, êasy, nôse, nâsal, lâser, BrE côsy, pôsy, pôse, lâser

There is an invisible z sound when the possessives of certain nouns, usually names, are written without the final -s after an apostrophe itself preceded by s: Jônes' for Jônes's, Kêats' instead of Kêats's, Wílls' = Wílls's, even Knóx' instead of Knóx's—though some speakers may adopt a spelling pronunciation and not sound it either

IPA /ʃ/ sh, ssi, sch, s, ch, ce, ci, ti, xi

sh: shíp, shóp, shoôt, shín, shîne, blúsh, mésh, dísh, ẁash, ásh, áshen, fáshion, shéd, shélter

ssi: pássion, físsion, míssion

ss before u: assůre, préssure

sch: schwà, schnápps, schmåltz

s: AmE sûre, insûre, BrE sůre, insůre

Si from Welsh and Irish: Siàn, Siobhăn *Shivăwn

Se from Irish: Seăn (= Shăwn, Shăun)

ch from French: machìne, nîche, pastîche, BrE moustàche, AmE mústáche, gauche (ô), brôchure, créche, panáche, Míchigan

ce: ôcean, crustâcean

ci: spêcies, spêcious, précious, vícious

ti: fíction, áction, nôtion, devôtion, môtion, lôtion, complêtion, fictítious, milítia

xi includes an initial 'k' sound: nóxious (*nókshəss), ánxious (*ánkshəss)

IPA /ʒ/ zh, zu, si, su, g

Though most conveniently described as the zh sound, as this is the spelling used when romanising from Russian, etc., it is not normally spelt thus, si being the most frequent rendition. In French the sound is common and rendered with a j:

j: joie de vivre *zhwàdə-vìvrə, le mot juste *ləmô-zhûst

zh: Brézhnev, Solzhenýtzin, Yoûzhny

zu: ázure, sêizure

si: vísion, télevision, cohêsion, lêsion, Âsian

su in -sure: pléasure, tréasure, AmE lêisure BrE léisure, clôsure

g from French: Nigér, ágent provocateur *ájahmprovoca-tër (AmE -tûr)

IPA /h/ h, wh

h: hélp, hít, heáven, héll, hàrbour, hôme, hórror, hórrible, hôpe, ahéad, ahŏy, àhà, Mahôney, enhānce, Hárris, Hámpstead, háppen, hápless

wh: who (*hû), whôle, whoôping-cóugh

This sound is absent from some dialects, such as Cockney.

IPA /m/ m, mm, mb, mn

m: múch, môst, Mîchael (*Mŷcle), émpty, mén, míx, glámour, ámber, ámble, whím, dímple, crúmple, crúmble, húmble, ámber, ámplify, woman (*wùmən), women (*wímən), mémory

mm: hámmer, dímmer, glímmer, jámming, swímming, swímmer, símmer, púmmel, búmmer, súmmer

mb final: thúmb, cômb, dúmb, lámb, clîmb, tomb (*toôm) plúmb

mn final: åutumn, hýmn, cólumn

IPA /n/ n, nn, kn, pn

n: negative, neŵ old, nót negative, nîght day, nêed require, néver, níl, énemy, sént, nâtive, nôbody, nô-one, noôn, noôdle, nûisance, nést, nâve church

nn: Ánn, Ánne, dínner, ínnings, pénny, ínner, púnning, wínner, fúnnel, túnnel

kn: knôw knowledge, kneŵ know, knót tie, knîght chess, Sir, knêad dough, knêe, knâve jack

pn: pneumátic, pneumônia

IPA /ŋ/ ng, n

A restricted phoneme, the ng sound does not begin syllables except in transcriptions of e.g. Vietnamese names, and so is not normally found initially, only medially and finally:

finally: thíng, síng, sáng, súng, sínger, hánger coat, hángar plane, wíng, spríng, lóng

the g sound added afterwards: lónger (*lóng-ger), fínger, ánger, húnger, ángle, síngle, dángle, Bángra

n before k: thínk, pínk, ínk, wínk, sínk, sánk, súnk, púnk, tánk, dánk, tánker, pínker, ánkle, wínkle, tínkle, línks link

before c: úncle, càrbuncle, ráncour, sánction, júnction, zínc

before x: ánxious (*ángshus or *ángkshus), mínx, jínx, lýnx cat

In final position, this sound is absent from some dialects, where it is pronounced as n.

IPA /l/ l, ll

l: lôw, lót, lénd, fâil, pâil bucket, pâle pallid, Pôle Poland = pôle wood, pál, låw, lîght (*lîte), léss, râil, râiling, âiling, tâilor = Tâylor, trâil

ll: bùll, bùlly, wåll, åll, téll, dóll, pôll election, séll buy = céll prison, biology, wíll, wílling, hóller, tåller, álley, allót, álloy

IPA /r/ r, rr, rh, wr

r: rêad, réd colour, réad reading, réady, rót, rãre, rôads streets, rāther, rîce, ríddle, AmE rôdeo, BrE rodèo, rôad, rêcent, ràther

rr: árrow, fúrrow, farràgo, sórrow, sórry, mérry, shérry, whérry, bérry, hérring, Mórris, érror, pórridge, Hárry, fürry, BrE wòrry, AmE wörry

rh: rhŷme, rhýthm, rhétoric, rhêsus, Rhôdes name, Greece, rhôdedéndron

wr: wrîte, wrén, wrêak, wrŏught, wrést fight, wréstle, wrínkle, awrŷ

AmE pronounces r before a consonant and finally in words like àrm, hürt and ŏrder; BrE does not.

Sometimes a phantom final 'r' can be heard between two vowels, one ending, the other beginning, a word: Índia(r)and Srì Lánka

IPA /j/ y, i

y: yéllow, yoúng, yét, yoûth, yôke ox, yôlk egg, låwyer, såwyer, Myánmàr, Líbya

i: ònion, mínion, míllion, Wílliam

invisible before û: ûse, tûne, beaûtiful, mûte, mûsic, cûte, cûticle, ukelèlê

IPA /w/ w, wh, u, ou, h

w: wéll, woòd, wísh, awây, wònder, wíll, wéather sunny, ẁant, ẁash, aẁash, wâve, wãry, BrE wòrry, AmE wörry, ẁaddle, ẁander, wónky

wh (pronounced hw in some AmE, Scottish English, etc., where it is regarded by some phoneticians as a distinct phoneme): ẁhat, whén, whére, whŷ, whénce, whéther if, whíp, whístle, whîte

u after q: quêen, quîte, quîet, quést, quáck, quíck, equéstrian, acquîre, quâint, equíp, qùarry, qùadrupéd, qùantum, qùantity, qùality

from Spanish: Nicarágua (-ágwa or -ágyûa), iguàna, marijuàna (*marry-yoû-wànə)

ou from French, initial in Ouagadoûgou (Wág-), Ouattara (various as stressed)

h in two Hebraic names: Côhen, Ménuhin

IPA /χ/ kh, ch, gh

distinguished by some speakers from /k/:

kh: shèikh, Khàlid, Khayyám

ch: lóch, Bàch, Búchan, Buchánan

gh: lóugh

IPA /ks/ x, xc, ks, kes, cks, cs, ches, chs

The grapheme x combines the phonemes /k/ and /s/. This is /gz/ for some AmE speakers in some words, for example exáct.

x: láx, tóxic, Níxon, wáx, wáxen, óx, óxen, píxie, táxi, bóx, bóxes, míx, séx, áxle, Téxas, México, hôax, extrême, Tríxie, Díxie, fáx (= fácts, whence it is derived), máximum, Báxter

xc: éxcellent, excél, excépt, excéss

chs: in names from German: Óchs (= óx), Fùchs, or accidental in plurals: tríptychs

Also accidental in plurals:

ks: bàrks, loòks, hoòks, spoôks, tålks, wålks, boòks, sêeks, fôlksy

kes: tâkes, sâkes, bâkes, câkes, jôkes, lîkes, êkes, nûkes, blôkes

cks: sócks, pícks, trícks, pécks, knócks, búcks, tícks marks

cs: àrcs, tícs nervous, mathemátics, lûnatics, mâniacs, médics, geriátrics, pediátrics, holístics

ches: âches, héadaches

  • Other double consonants, such as ts and ps, which are phonemes in some languages, also occur accidentally, as in géts and cŏrpse