International Phonetic Alphabet
Below is an IPA chart for received pronunciation, which is generally regarded as the standard accent for British English. IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) is a system of phonetic notation using the Latin script.
The purpose of IPA is to provide a symbol for every sound for every language and accent. This chart is specific for British English, and certain sounds that exist in American or Australian English will not be found in this chart, however, this chart should still be used for English learners looking to improve their pronunciation regardless of a preference for a particular accent.
International Phonetic Alphabet chart for British English
Types of vowels in English: monophthongs, diphthongs, and triphthongs.
|/æ/ – sad||/ʌ/ – run||/ɑː/- father||/ɛ/, /e/ – bed|
|/ɜː/ – bird||/ɪ/ – sit||/iː/ – see||/ɒ/ – off|
|/ɔː/ – law||/ut/ – p||/uː/ – you||/ə/ – about|
|/i/ – happy||/u/ – situation|
|/ɑɪ/ – my||/eɪ/ – day||/ɔɪ/- toy||/ɑʊ/ – now|
|/əʊ/ – no||/ɪə/ – here||/eə/- hear||/ʊə/ – poor|
|/aɪə/ – liar||/eɪə/ – layer||/ɔɪə/- soya||/aʊə/ – cower|
|/əʊə/ – slower|
|/p/ – pen||/b/ – web||/t/- two||/d/ – dog|
|/k/ – cat||/g/ – go||/ʧ/ – chair||/ʤ/ – edge|
|/f/ – fool||/v/ – voice||/θ/ – thing||/ð/ – this|
|/s/ – pass||/z/ – zoo||/ʃ/ – she||/ʒ/ – genre|
|/h/ – ham||/m/ – man||/n/ – no||/ŋ/ – sing|
|/l/ – left||/r/ – run||/w/ – we||/j/ – yes|
What is a vowel?
Vowels are sounds which are produced with vocal fold vibration. There are three types of vowels in English: monophthongs, diphthongs and triphthongs.
What is a monophthong?
A monophthong is a fixed vowel sound or a pure vowel sound that does not glide up or down. I.e., /ə/ and /ɪ/ are common examples of monophthongs in English because they are single sounds, unlike diphthongs which are indeed gliding sounds such that they have two separate vowels sounds within the same syllable.
What is a diphthong?
Diphthongs contain two vowel sounds within the same syllable. Diphthongs are typically known as “gliding sounds” because the vocal folds move from one position to another during the pronunciation of the diphthong. I.e., /eɪ/ from “say” and /ɑʊ/ from “wow”.
Compare the diphthong in the word “say” (/seɪ/) to the monophthong in the word “sad” (/sæd/). In the word “sad” the letter “a” represents a monophthong sound such that it is a single sound whereby the speech organs do not move. Contrarily, the letter “a” in “say” represents a diphthong, such that two adjacent sounds are present in the same syllable.
What is a triphthong?
Similarly, as diphthongs have two vowel qualities, triphthongs have three vowel qualities. Triphthongs are formed with the following diphthongs followed by /ə/:
|Diphthong||+ /ə/||= triphthong|
International Phonetic Alphabet chart for received pronunciation
Technical linguistic terms such as diphthongs and triphthongs have been avoided in the above chart so to make for a more simple and easy-on-the-eye chart for the English learner. We decided to break down English sounds for received pronunciation into just two categories: vowels and consonants to make for a clearer learning experience.
Best way to learn International Phonetic Alphabet for English
If you’re looking to improve your English pronunciation, then knowing IPA will certainly help. By knowing the “code” or the transcription of the sounds of any given language shall allow you to ascertain the sound without having to hear the sound itself.
If you’re an avid reader and have an electronic device for reading you could install a dictionary that also provides IPA transcription, which in turn would make it much easier for you to learn the correct pronunciation of words.
Modern technologies such as e-books are great because at the touch of a button you have instant access to its definition, translation and IPA transcription.
You could also use an extension with your internet browser if you’re seeking the transcription of words. Websites such as Tophonetics offer an instant transcription of words.
A few examples
Below a few examples of the transcription of a few words using IPA – received pronunciation, that is, the section of IPA for the standard British accent.
Modal auxiliary verbs:
- Articles (a/an, the, zero article)
- Pronouns: subject, object and possessive
- Question tags
- English conditionals
- Interrogatives in English
- Phrasal verbs
- Prefixes and suffixes
- Reported and direct speech
- Punctuation: apostrophes, colons, semi-colons, commas, dashes, full stops, question marks, exclamation marks, and quotation marks
- Numbers: cardinal, ordinal, and Roman numbers
- The verb: “get”
- ‘Get’ vs. ‘go’ and ‘got’ vs. ‘gotten’
- Copular verbs
- Cleft sentences
- Subjunctive in English
- Vulgar and taboo in English
- Split infinitive
- Emphasis with inversion
- Gerunds in English
- To + infinitive
- Bare infinitive
- British and American spelling