Inglés

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Pronunciation

Learning the correct pronunciation of words in English is one of the biggest problems most students have. The reason for this is because in spoken English not only different vowels may sound the same, for example, all the following remarked letters approximately sound like a Spanish “i”:

  • build, busy, hit, mystery, pretty, sieve, women

but also because a given vowel may have different sounds:

  • arm (sounds between “a” and “o”), ate (sounds like “ei”), bad (sounds like “a”), many (sounds like “e”)

One of the best methods to solve this problem is to carefully listen to the way native English speakers speak and to repeat what has been heard, however, a student may also benefit from using a speech transcription system.

Transcription systems

Speech can be transcribed in two ways:

  1. Phonemic transcription

    Sometimes known as broad transcription, this method involves representing speech using just a unique symbol for each phoneme of the language.

    For example, the word “tenth” could be transcribed like this: /tɛnθ/, showing that the word consists of four sounds and where each sound was represented in a unique way.

  2. Phonetic transcription

    Sometimes known as narrow transcription, involves representing additional details about the contextual variations in pronunciation that occur in normal speech.

    In this case, the word “tenth” could now be transcribed like this: [tʰɛ̃n̪θ], which gives a very precise indication of how to pronounce it: an aspirated initial “t”, a nasalised vowel, a nasal articulated at the interdental place of articulation and an interdental fricative.

The basic difference between these two methods is that the phonetical transcription (placed between square brackets: [x]) is used to represent actual sounds in terms of their acoustic and articulatory properties, and that the phonemical transcription (placed between forward slash brackets: /x/) is used to represent abstract mental constructs, not actual sounds.

This basically means that while in English there is an aspirated “t” ([tʰ]) and a non aspirated one ([t]), and an English speaker produces each without thinking about it when speaking, this same speaker will hear them both just as a “t” (instances of the phoneme /t/) because contextual variations in pronunciation aren’t actually perceived.

Through the years, many different phonetic alphabets have been developed but currently, the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) has become the standard for the phonetic representation not only of English, but of any language.

Regarding phonemic systems, Gimson’s is the most popular one, it is based on the IPA.

As a phoneme is only a mental representation of a sound, Gimson’s system uses only one of the possible IPA symbols to represent each phoneme, this way, the phoneme “t” is represented with the “t” character, like this: /t/.

The main purpose of this Web page is to show the IPA symbols used in the phonemic system to represent the vowel and consonant sounds in English.

Before continuing reading and studying this document, please see the videos from the following YouTube playlist:

lang - inglés - pronunciación 02a - intro

This playlist contains an introductory video to the idea and purpose behind transcription systems, a couple of videos reviewing the English alphabet with the corresponding phonemes for each letter, and three brief videos presenting all the phonemes for the English language. Carefully reviewing this playlist will allow you to understand and get familiar with these phonemes very quickly.

If you need it, remember that you can click on the Caption button at the video toolbar to shown the video subtitled:

YouTube captions button

The English alphabet

The following table shows each letter of the English alphabet with its phonemic transcription and how it roughly sounds in Spanish.

Letter
Phoneme
Sound
A a
/eɪ/
ei
B b
/biː/
bi
C c
/siː/
si
D d
/diː/
di
E e
/iː/
i
F f
/ɛf/
ef
G g
/ʤiː/
yi
H h
/eɪʧ/
eich
I i
/aɪ/
ai
J j
/ʤeɪ/
yei
K k
/keɪ/
kei
L l
/ɛl/
el
M m
/ɛm/
em
Letter
Phoneme
Sound
N n
/ɛn/
en
O o
/oʊ/, /əʊ/, /əu/
ou
P p
/piː/
pi
Q q
/kjuː/
kiu
R r
/ɑrː/
ar
S s
/ɛs/
es
T t
/tiː/
ti
U u
/juː/
iu
V v
/viː/
vi
W v
/dʌbəl juː/
dobl iu
X x
/ɛks/
ex
Y y
/waɪ/
uai
Z z
/zɛd/, /ziː/
zi

The following table shows the letters of the English alphabet grouped by their vowel sound.

/eɪ/
a
h
j
k
 
 
 
 
/iː/
b
c
d
e
g
p
t
v
/e/
f
l
m
n
s
x
z
 
/aɪ/
i
y
 
 
 
 
 
 
/əʊ/
o
w
 
 
 
 
 
 
/juː/
q
u
 
 
 
 
 
 
/ɑːr/
r
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

English language uses 26 written letters but it needs 44 phoneme symbols to represent all of its sounds. This 44 sounds can be grouped into three categories: vowels, digraphs and consonants. The following sections will show each of these phonemes.

Important notes

  1. The actual American or British r-sound is represented by the IPA symbol: ɹ, but Gimson’s system uses the IPA symbol r, which actually corresponds to a different r-sound, like the one used in Spanish. So, instead of having the word “rule” transcribed as /ɹuːl/, it is actually transcribed as /ruːl/. This evidently makes the process of transcribing a word much easier, but it forces students to always keep in mind that /r/ is a soft sound: [ɹ], not a hard one: [r].
  2. In British English (BrE) the “r” is not pronounced unless the sound comes before a vowel (e.g. answering, answer it). In American English (AmE), the “r” is always pronounced. To avoid having to use two different transcriptions for a single word, the symbol ʳ is used instead (e.g. /ɑʳ/, /əʳ/, /ɜʳ/). This way, instead of having to transcribe the word “bar” as: /bɑːr/ (AmE) and /bɑː/ (BrE), it is transcribed just as /bɑːʳ/, this indicates that the “r” is pronounced in American English but not in British English.
  3. In some AmE only dictionaries the sounds /eəʳ/, /ɪəʳ/, /ʊəʳ/ tend to be respectively written as /er/, /ɪr/, /ʊr/; for example, /ˈdɪəʳst/ (“dearest”) is written as /ˈdɪrəst/.
  4. In AmE, /ɑ:/ and /ɒ/ are one vowel, so the words “calm” and “cot” have the same vowel. In AmE transcriptions, the word “hot” is written as /hɑ:t/ (listen to the AmE and BrE pronunciations: English pronunciation of “hot” and see its transcriptions: Definition of hot).
  5. In many varieties of English /ɔ:/ is pronounced the same way as /ɑ:/, so the words “caught” and “cot” are pronounced with an identical vowel sound (they are homophones; see the Cot–caught merger).
  6. In American transcriptions, /ɔ:/ is often written as /ɒ:/ (e.g. “law” = /lɒ:/), unless it is followed by an “r”, in which case it remains an /ɔ:/.
  7. The actual e-sound in the words “bed” or “met” is represented by the phone (phonetic symbol) [ɛ], but once again, to ease the transcription process some dictionaries use the /e/ phoneme; for example, instead of having the word “bed” transcribed as /bɛd/, one may find it transcribed as /bed/. This also applies for /ɛə/, which can be found as /eə/. It is important then to keep in mind that /e/ should be pronounced like [ɛ] and not like [e].
  8. While /oʊ/ has traditionally been represented as ʊ/ in British transcriptions, for some BrE speakers and most AmE speakers, /oʊ/ is actually more appropriate because they use a rounded vowel.
  9. The vertical line symbol (ˈ) indicates word stress. It is usually placed before the stressed syllable in a word, for example: /ˈkɒntrækt/ vs. /kənˈtrækt/.
  10. It should be noted that there aren’t really any rigid pronunciation rules. The symbols shown in this document are only to give a general idea of how certain words are pronounced.

Vowels

A vowel can be defined as a continuous sound produced by:

  • The vibration of the air flowing through the vocal chords.
  • The outline of the space formed between the tongue and the roof of the mouth.
  • The shape of the lips.

The IPA uses 28 phonetic symbols to represent the basic vowel sounds that can be made by changing the position of the tongue and the shape of the lips.

The IPA also has some special symbols to represent variations to these basic sounds. For example, a vowel can be short or long depending on the duration of the sound. Long vowels are indicated with the IPA “long” symbol (/ː/) after them.

The image shows the 28 IPA vowel symbols and their relative position in the vowel space.

Vowel


For each language in the world only a small subset of these symbols is usually needed to depict the sound of its vowels.

For example, Spanish and English have the same written vowels: { a, e, i, o, u }, but as can be seen from the image at the right, the number of symbols required to represent the sound of vowels in English is greater than the one required for Spanish.

English vowel space

The position of the tongue determines if a vowel is open or close and front or back

The shape of the lips determines if the resulting vowel is rounded or not.

Position of the tongue and shape of the lips

  • In front vowels the tongue is pushed to the front and raised towards the alveolar ridge.
  • In back vowels the tongue is drawn to the back of the mouth (palate).
  • In closed vowels the tongue is raised to decrease the space between it and the roof of the mouth.
  • In open vowels the tongue is lowered to increase that space.
  • In rounded vowels the lips are rounded.
  • In extended vowels the lips are spread out.

For example, /i/ is a Front, Close, Extended vowel, but /ɒ/ is a Back, Open, Rounded one.

Just as a reference, the sound of the symbols that are identical to those in the Latin alphabet (a, e, i, o, u) is roughly equivalent to the sound of the corresponding vowels in Spanish:

Symbol
Sounds like
/a/
casa
/e/
dedo
/i/
cine
/o/
ojo
/u/
luna

The sounds of English vowels

Long and short sounds

A vowel in English can have a “long” sound, when it sounds like its name, and a “short” sound, in which case it sounds roughly similar to the equivalent Spanish vowel.

Vowel
A a 
E e 
I i 
O o 
U u 
 
“Long” sound
Example
/eɪ/
ate, gate, name
/iː/
evil, me, she
/aɪ/
ice, bite, hi
/oʊ/, /əʊ/, /əu/
bone, go
/juː/
use, universe
/uː/
crude, rule
“Short” sound
Example
/æ/
am, cat, sack
/ɛ/
edge, bet, nest
/ɪ/
bit, panic
/ɒ/
dog, odd, top
/ʊ/
full, put
/ʌ/
under, up

Sounds based on their position or on accompanying letters

Only one vowel in the word, not located at the end of a word

When there is only one vowel in a word and it is not at the end of a word, it usually has a short sound.

ant
/æ/
net
/ɛ/
pin
/ɪ/
got
/ɒ/
sun
/ʌ/

Only one vowel in the word, located at the end of a word

Where there is only one vowel and it comes at the end of the word, it usually has a long sound.

she
/iː/
go
/oʊ/

Two vowels in a word, ending with the vowel “e”

When there are two or more vowels and the word ends with the vowel “e”, the vowel before it has a long sound and the ending “e” is silent.

gate
/eɪ/
side
/aɪ/
some
/ə/
hole
/oʊ/
tune
/juː/

Two different vowels together in a word

When two vowels are together, the first one has a long sound and the second one is silent.

rain
/eɪ/
tied
/aɪ/
seal
/iː/
cheat
/iː/

One vowel followed by two same consonants

When a word has a vowel followed by two same consonants together (a double consonant), the vowel has a short sound.

bitter
/ɪ/
summer
/ʌ/
pull
/ʊ/

Double same vowels, not “o”

When a word has two same vowels together (a double vowel), they are pronounced as one with a long sound (this rule does not apply if the double vowel is an “o”).

meet
/iː/
vacuum
/juə/

Double “o” vowel

When the double vowel is an “o”, it may have different sounds.

pool
/uː/
book
/ʊ/
door
/ɔː/

The letter “y” as a vowel

Sometimes the letter “y” can be defined as a vowel because depending on its position in the word or on the letters around it, it can sound like a vowel.

Middle “y”
 
Ending “y”
 
symbol
/ɪ/
happy
/i/
rhyme
/aɪ/
cry
/aɪ/

English phonemic vowels

Before reading and studying this section, please review at least once the videos of the following YouTube playlist:

lang - inglés - pronunciación 02b - vocales

These videos deal only with the English phonemic vowels.

The following tables group several words according to their phonemic vowels.

The words in each group were arranged first by the corresponding written vowel or diphtong (shown remarked) and then in alphabetical order.

Some groups include two symbols, the second one represents another way to transcribe the pronunciation of the vowel sound.

Carefully repeat each word several times, trying to reproduce its correct sound. To be sure about the correct sound related to each phoneme you may use one of the many interactive phonetic charts available in Internet (there are several references at the end of this document).

/iː/

beet, deed, fleece, free, green, meet, see, seem, seen, sheep, sleep, tree

bead, eat, heat, meat, sea, seat, team, weak

evil, me, scene * machine * ceiling, receive * siege

/i/

radiate, glorious * happy, mystery

/ɪ/

bid, bit, did, fish, grin, him, hit, in, it, kit, minute, miss, missed, mist

ship, sin, sink, sit, tin

pretty * women * busy * hymn, mystery * build * sieve

/ɛ/
/e/

bed, beg, bet, dress, fen, get, hell, lent, less, men, mess, met, sell, set, ten

many * said * says * head, pleasure, weather * leisure * bury

/æ/

am, apple, ask, at * back, bad, bag, ban, band, black, can, cat, dad, damage

had, ham, hat, jab, lamb, lass, man, marry, pat, sang, sat, stamp, tack, trap

 
 
/ə/

about, above, alone, around, at, attack, away * standard

after, maker, mother, observer, potter, teacher

cinema, item, suddenly * the * edible, similar

obey * doctor, gallop, common, to * circus, impetus * nation

/ɜːʳ/

fern, her, herb, herd, refer, term, were * bird, firm, girl, sir, stir

work, worm, word

burn, burr, cur, curse, curt, fur, hurl, lurk, nurse, purr, purse, turn

earth * heard, learn, yearn

 
 
/uː/

boon, boot, food, fool, goose, mood, moon, pool, too, wooed, zoo

do, to, whose * crude, fluke, Luke, rule

new * shoe * group, soup, through, you * blue, true * suit * two

/u/

influence, situation * you

/ʊ/

cushion, full, pull, puss, put * woman

book, foot, good, hood, look, room, soot, wood * could, should, would

/ʌ/

come, done, love, money, monk, son, sun, ton, tongue, won, wonder, worry

under * bud, bun, but, cud, cup, cut, dub, duck, fun, fuss, hub

hull, hum, luck, much, mud, muss, putt, rum, strut, tuck

blood, flood * does * double, rough

/ɔː/

born, boss, cord, for, form, horse, lord, north, or, torn * door

bore, more, score, sore * broad, roar * bought, course, four, thought

call, fall, talk, walk, warm, warn, war, was * caught, daub, fault, naught

awe, dawn, drawer, law, saw, thaw, yawn

/ɑː/

arm, art, ask * bar, bark, barn, calm, car, card, cart, castle, dark

far, farm, fast, father, half, hard, Khan, lard, march, start, yarn

laugh * heart * guard

/ɒ/
/ɑː/

odd * bond, cod, cot, dock, dog, goblin, god, gossip, got, hod, hop, hot, job, jog

lot, not, pot, rock, sock, (song), (sorry), stop, yon * wander, want, wash

English phonemic diphthongs

Before reading and studying this section, please review at least once the videos of the following YouTube playlist:

lang - inglés - pronunciación 02c - diptongos

These videos deal only with the English phonemic diphthongs.

The following table groups several words according to their phonemic diphthongs.

/ɪəʳ/
/ɪr/

here, mere, sincere * ear * beard, fear, near, weary, year

beer, deer, peer, seer * weird

/eɪ/

bathe, brake, face, gate, make, male, mate, race, sale, same, tame, wade, waste

aim, bait, mail, main, nail, pain, paint, sail * day, may, say, way

break * eight * they

/eəʳ/
/er/

care, dare, fare, mare, rare, scarce, various * air, chair, fair, hair, pair, stair

there, where * bear, wear * their * square

/aɪ/

bite, climb, dice, five, high, kind, mile, pine, pint, price, right, tile, wide, write

thigh * eye * height * tie * guide * buy * by, my, try * bye

/aɪr/
/ɑɪə/

hire, fire, wire

liar * buyer * tyre

/aʊ/

out * loud, lounge, mouth * allowed, crowd, fowl, how, howl, now, town, vow

/aʊr/
/ɑʊə/

devour, our, scour, sour

bower, flower, glower, power, tower

/ʊəʳ/
/ʊr/

cure, jury, pure * poor

tour, tourist

/oʊ/
/əʊ/

bone, go, hole, home, joke, mode, no, nose, phone, tone, vote, whole

boat, goat, load, loan, moan, soap * hoe * knows, owe, show, throw

/ɔɪ/

coined, choice, join, noise, point, toil * boy, joy, toy

Contrasting English phonemic vowels and diphthongs

The following tables contrast several phonemic vowels and diphthongs.

/ɪ/
bit
bid
did
it
sin
/iː/
beet
bead
deed
eat
seen
/iː/
me
meet
see
seem
team
/eɪ/
may
mate
say
same
tame
/eɪ/
aim
bait
gate
main
sale
/ɛ/
“m”
bet
get
men
sell
/ɛ/
bed
“n”
mess
set
ten
/ɪ/
bid
in
miss
sit
tin
 
 
 
 
 
 
/ɛ/
bed
beg
less
men
set
/æ/
bad
bag
lass
man
sat
/æ/
am
ban
back
hat
can
/ɑː/
arm
barn
bark
heart
Khan
/ɑː/
barn
card
farm
lard
 
/ɔː/
born
cord
form
lord
 
/ɔː/
caught
dawn
naught
yawn
 
/ɒ/
cot
Don
not
yon
 
/ɒ/
bond
hod
job
pot
song
/æ/
band
had
jab
pat
sang
 
 
 
 
 
 
/ɒ/
cod
cot
dock
 
 
/ɑːr/
card
cart
dark
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
/ɔː/
bought
laud
lawn
awe
 
/oʊ/
boat
load
loan
owe
 
/oʊ/
bone
hose
moan
mode
soap
/uː/
boon
whose
moon
mood
soup
/uː/
fool
Luke
pool
suit
wooed
/ʊ/
full
look
pull
soot
would
 
 
 
 
 
 
/oʊ/
hoe
hole
load
no
tone
/aʊ/
how
howl
loud
now
town
 
 
 
 
 
 
/ʌ/
bud
but
fun
hull
muss
/ɛ/
bed
bet
fen
hell
mess
/ʌ/
bud
bun
hum
tuck
 
/æ/
bad
dan
ham
tack
 
/ʌ/
bud
bun
cut
hub
hull
/ɜːʳ/
bird
burn
curt
herb
hurl
/ʌ/
cud
luck
putt
rum
 
/ʊ/
could
look
put
room
 
/ʌ/
but
done
dub
fuss
won
/ɔː/
bought
dawn
daub
force
warn
/ʌ/
come
cud
duck
much
 
/ɑː/
calm
card
dark
march
 
/ʌ/
but
bun
mud
fun
ton
/oʊ/
boat
bone
mode
phone
tone
 
 
 
 
 
 
/ɑː/
bar
car
hard
yarn
 
/ɜːʳ/
burr
cur
heard
yearn
 
/ʊ/
hood
look
puss
wood
 
/ɜːʳ/
herd
lurk
purse
word
 
/ɔː/
bore
course
sore
torn
 
/ɜːʳ/
burr
curse
sir
turn
 
/eəʳ/
bear
care
fair
hair
wear
/ɜːʳ/
burr
cur
fur
her
were
/ɪəʳ/
beard
fear
here
peer
seer
/ɜːʳ/
bird
fir
her
purr
sir
 
 
 
 
 
 
/eɪ/
mail
may
pain
race
wade
/aɪ/
mile
my
pine
rice
wide
/aɪ/
buy
kind
tie
tile
 
/ɔɪ/
boy
coined
toy
toil
 

English phonemic consonants

Before reading and studying this section, please review at least once the videos of the following YouTube playlist:

lang - inglés - pronunciación 02d - consonantes

These videos deal only with the English phonemic consonants.

The following table shows the English phonemic consonants.

/p/

park, pay, pen, pest, pigeon, pond, pull * copy * cap, tip * pipe * apple, happen

/b/

back, bad, ban, bane, bee, berry, bone, book, boon, bus, bye * lab, job * baby

/t/

taught, tea, team, tire, told, town, tube, two, type * pet, set * button, getting

Thailand, Thames, thyme * tight

/d/

dare, day, dean, deep, deer, den, die * lady, rude * load * did * ladder, odd

/tʃ/

char, chair, cheap, check, cheese, chew, choice, choke * teacher

arch, march, match, torch * church * capture, mature, nature

/dʒ/

jack, jam, jar, jaw, jay, jeep, jet, jeer, joke, joy, jump, just

gene, gist * age, large, lounge * soldier * judge

/k/

Kansas, keen, keep, key, kick, kill, kosher, kudos * back, clock, deck, pack

came, car, cat, coal, coast, could * ache, scheme, school

quake, quality, queen, question, quintet, quiet, quorum, quotation

/g/

game, gas, gate, get, give, go, guy * flag * giggle * ghastly, ghat, ghee, ghost

 
 
/h/

hand, hat, hello, him, hole, hot, house, how * ahead * who, whole, whom

 
 
/m/

mad, mate, me, meat, mere, mine, mode, moon, my * lamp * hammer

jam, sum * lamb

/n/

nail, name, near, neck, nice, night, no, now, nuclear, nude, number, nymph

canny, funny, sunny * can, man, sun, ten

knack, knead, knee, knife, knight, knock, knot, know, knuckle

/ŋ/

anger, angst, English, finger, singer, tongue * fang, long, ring, sing, sung

ankle, drank, thanks, monk

 
 
/f/

fan, fat, feel, fine, fish * if * coffee * phantasm * photo * cough, rough, tough

/v/

vampire, van, veal, very, view, vine, voice, vulture * five, heavy, live, move

/θ/

thank, thaw, theater, theme, thick, thigh, thin, thing, think

thought, throw, thumb, thunder

athlete, author, ether, ethic * bath, both, earth, loath, path

/ð/

than, that, the, then, there, they, thine, this, tho, though, thus, thy

bathe, mother, other, soothe * smooth

/s/

safe, sail, say, seal, season, see, sink, sip, soft, solar, subject, summary

class, mass, miss

cease, cedar, celebrate, cellar, cemetery, cider, cipher, circle, city

/z/

zap, zeal, zero, zinc, zipper, zodiac, zone, zoo, zucchini, zygote

crazy, lazy * buzz * easy, music, noise, observer, president, rose, season

/ʃ/

she, sheaf, sheep, shin, shine, ship, shoe, shop * cushion

cash, dish, fish, crash * sugar, sure * mansion * mention, national

/ʒ/

casual * mision, vision * censure, leisure, measure, pleasure * seizure

 
 
/l/

lamp, lay, leg, lemon, letter, lie, lion, look, lord, lot, low

little * dolly, trolley, valley * call, cell, mall, pull, roll

/r/

rabbit, reason, ribbon, road, run, rust * cry, pride, try * river, robber

arrange, berry, carry, merry, sorry * car, tar

wrack, wrap, wreak, wreath, wriggle, wring, write, wrong, wrung

 
 
/j/

yak, yam, yard, yaw, year, yeast, yellow, yes, yet, yield, yoke, yolk, you

(/juː/) universe, university, use * mule, tube * beauty * few, new

/w/

want, war, was, way, we, went, wet, wine, with, wood, work

widow, willow, window * when, where

(/kw/) queen * (/wʌ/) one

Contrasting English phonemic consonants

The following table contrasts some English phonemic consonants.

/b-/
ban
bane
berry
bee
 
/v-/
van
vein
very
“v”
 
/d-/
dare
day
den
die
dough
/ð-/
there
they
then
thy
though
/f-/
fan
fat
feel
fine
 
/v-/
van
vat
veal
vine
 
/d-/
day
dean
deep
deer
don
/dʒ-/
jay
gene
jeep
jeer
John
/j-/
yak
yam
yaw
yet
yoke
/dʒ-/
jack
jam
jaw
jet
joke
/ʃ-/
sheaf
sheep
shin
shoe
shop
/tʃ-/
chief
cheap
chin
chew
chop
/s-/
seal
sink
sip
sue
sown
/z-/
zeal
zinc
zip
zoo
zone
/t-/
team
tick
tin
taught
 
/θ-/
theme
thick
thin
thought
 
/tʃ-/
char
cheap
cheer
choke
 
/dʒ-/
jar
jeep
jeer
joke
 

Reading exercises

Practice reading the following sentences several times aloud. You should be able to distinctly pronounce the contrasting words.

Contrast /ɪ/ and /iː/

He did a good deed.

Please sit on this seat.

If he eats that eel he”ll feel ill.

He took a quick dip in a deep pool.

Did you say “seen” or “sin”? I said “sin”.

The team seems to have missed the scene because of the mist.

Contrast /iː/ and /eɪ/

I sometimes feel weak when I wake up.

Don’t go on the lake in that leaky boat.

The former past form of “speak” was “spake”.

Did you say “reason” or “raisin”? I said “reason”.

You have to pay a steep price for a nice piece of meat.

This room doesn’t seem to be the same as the other one.

Contrast /ɛ/ and /eɪ/

I told them to test it, not taste it.

She wants less lace on her dress.

Don’t put the pepper on that wet paper.

We only stayed ten days instead of eleven.

Contrast /ɪ/ and /ɛ/

Tell him to lift his left arm.

I hope she will be well soon.

The bird hid its head under its wing.

Women like beer less than men.

Contrast /ɛ/ and /æ/

I said I was sad.

Men” is the plural form of “man”.

Ten minutes in the sun will tan your back.

Don’t bend that rubber band around your hand.

This cold weather sent me back to bed.

Contrast /æ/ and /ɑː/

Can you see a cat in that cart?

A black ant bit my aunt in the hand.

My father is going to marry Pat in a castle.

After the man sang with all his heart, he had a good laugh.

There is a dark man hiding at the back of the black car, he is armed.

Contrast /ʊ/ and /uː/

There is some soot in your suit.

Please pull the dog out of the pool.

I was a fool to believe the pot was full.

Contrast /ʌ/ and /ɑː/

Please come in, it is calm now.

There isn’t much sunshine in March.

The heart pumps the blood through the body.

Contrast /ɒ/ and /ɑːr/

Don can’t darn his socks.

You should not wander at the dock when it’s dark.

He got a shock when he saw a shark in the water.

Contrast /ɑː/ and /ɔː/

Part of the port is built near the old fort.

People who won’t close doors are said to have been “born in a barn”.

I like to walk through the farm on warm, calm days.

The lord saw the guards half asleep in the barn.

To fry the chicken you have to daub the pan with lard.

Contrast /ɒ/ and /ɔː/

Don went off at dawn to a walk.

Did you say “fond” or “fawned”? I said “fond”.

I thought he said “stock”, but I think he meant “stalk”.

He told his boss he was not going to do that kind of jobs.

A synonym for “naught” is “not anything”.

Contrast /æ/ and /ɒ/

The cat sat on the baby’s cot.

It was hot, but he didn’t take off his hat.

The rocks were bond together with a rubber band.

Everyone felt sad when she sang that old song.

The hod had a very short handle.

Contrast /ɔː/ and /oʊ/

Paul bought a small boat.

We are going to get a loan to fix the lawn.

Claude caught his coat on a nail.

The horse had a broken bone.

Contrast /oʊ/ and /uː/

The pole fell into the pool.

I like a coal fire in the cool season.

Don’t let that soap fall into the soup.

The past form of “choose” is “chose”.

Contrast /ɑː/ and /ɜːʳ/

She acted the part of a pert child.

The bard wrote a poem about a bird.

Educated people say “learn” not “larn”.

That fire is going to burn down the barn.

Contrast /ʌ/ and /ɜːʳ/

These buns look very burnt.

Those little girls love to feed the gulls.

You have to work to have some money.

I heard her son won a fern at work.

Contrast /ɛ/ and /ʌ/

I bet he was going to win, but he didn’t.

He sits at his desk from dawn to dusk.

If the weather is good I”ll bury the money.

Contrast /æ/ and /ʌ/

Those bags are full of bugs.

This sticky mud is driving me mad.

It is a bit rash to rush things.

Contrast /ʌ/ and /uː/

There is a bottle of rum in the room.

This oven will prove to be a real boon to make a morning bun.

Contrast /ɔː/ and /ʌ/

I bought this book, but I didn’t like it.

The lawn will be done before dawn.

Contrast /ʊ/ and /ɜːʳ/

I would like to hear a word from you.

I think I heard a noise under the hood.

The girl stood and stirred the soup.

Contrast /ɜːʳ/ and /ɔː/

This shirt is a bit short for me.

Sir, I”m sorry, but I have a sore throat.

The cat purred while I poured out its milk.

Contrast /ʌ/ and /oʊ/

All he does is doze all day long.

Children like to have fun with a phone.

The men had to load a ton of mud.

Contrast /eɪ/ and /aɪ/

You may come into my room.

I had to walk a mile to get my mail.

How much did you pay for that pie?

Contrast /ɔɪ/ and /aɪ/

Roy likes to eat rye bread.

What’s the point in drinking a pint of water?

The boy went to buy a tie to use it as a toy.

Contrast /oʊ/ and /aʊ/

Oh no, don’t go just now.

There is a bone buried in the ground.

They shouted loud after seeing the load.

Contrast /ɜːʳ/ and /eəʳ/

I like the way she does her hair.

If I were you I would not wear that suit.

That seems a fair price for real fur.

Contrast /ɜːʳ/ and /ɪəʳ/

I”m sure her keys aren’t here.

I wish I were a seer to predict the future.

I fear I”ll have to cut down that old fir tree.

Contrast /b-/ and /v-/

That berry is very small.

A ban was imposed on that kind of van.

A “vat” is a large barrel used to store liquids.

This is the best vest we have in store.

Contrast /d-/ and /ð-/

I wouldn’t dare to go there.

They stayed there all day.

Those lazy dogs just doze in the sun all the time.

This dough is not ready yet.

Contrast /f-/ and /v-/

We installed a fan in the new van.

Only a few people have seen this view.

I feel that veal is a bit expensive.

Contrast /d-/ and /dʒ-/

Don went to visit John.

He dug an old jug out of the ground.

That joke made my day.

Contrast /j-/ and /dʒ-/

I have yet to fly in a jet.

The guard was wearing a yellow jacket.

John was seen yawning at the sermon.

Contrast /tʃ-/ and /ʃ-/

That dog chew my shoe!

That chain has a strange shape.

I”m afraid you”ll have to share a chair.

Contrast /s-/ and /z-/

That sink is made of zink.

Sue went to the zoo to see the seals and the zebras.

The whole zone was under siege.

Contrast /t-/ and /θ-/

That tin seems very thin.

Today I have been extremely thirsty.

I thought he taught English.

Contrast /dʒ-/ and /tʃ-/

The jeep was very cheap.

Jane put a chain on her bike.

The jam was completely charred.

Contrast /ð-/ and /θ-/

Rather than forgetting, she thanked me.

I don’t agree; an interesting thought, though.

I think those were the thieves at the theater tonight.

References

Interactive phonemic charts

Dictionaries

English pronunciation

About the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

IPA transcription systems

Fonts with IPA symbols

Cell phone Apps

General information