An Indispensable Tool for the identification and reproduction of the sounds of English.
Learning these symbols will allow you to learn the pronunciation at the same time you learn the meaning of a new word if you use (AS YOU SHOULD!) a dictionary with the IPA notation. The use of the symbols will also allow you to take notes of the new words that you hear so you can remember them to practice or to ask your English speaking friends to tell you their meaning.
These tables contain all the sounds of English with:
- The IPA symbols such as are found in the better dictionaries
- The letter (in red) that represents the sound.
- Some English words that contain the sound.
- A link to a sound file for prctice in hearing the sound.
The IPA Symbol
five, thigh, aisle
air, where, bear
The following table shows the consonants. The sounds of some of the English letters MAY be similar to the sounds of our language. The sample words are only some of the many possibilities of English spelling. A complete list of the possible spellings for any sound is NOT given in this table. This table does not have the purpose of teaching spelling, but rather of teaching the IPA symbols and presenting the pronunciation of the corresponding sounds.
Rudimentary instructions on how to make the sounds are given in English. In addition, some explanations of the sounds are given in Spanish, as examples cannot be given for all languages. Spanish speakers may find more detail in their language in Sonidos del Inglés. Speakers of other languages can listen to the sample recordings.
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The IPA Symbols
Pronunciation * There are regional differences
Upper and lower lips touch and then release the sound. Vocal cords vibrate.
Tip of tongue touches gum behind the upper teeth. Vocal cords vibrate.
Upper teeth touch lower lip. Vocal cords do not vibrate.
Root of tongue touches soft palate. Vocal cords vibrate.
Mouth is wide open. Air is released from the back of the throat.
For Spanish Speakers: yeso, caballo: * el mexicano NO el argentino
Root of tongue touches soft palate. Vocal cords DO NOT vibrate. A puff of air is released after the tongue in removed from the soft palate. For Spanish Speakers: casa, queso, quilo, copa, y ˇya sabes!
The tongue is arched in the mouth. For Spanish Speakers: La pronunciación de la consonante "l" se parece a la del Espańol. Ver abajo para la pronunciación de la "l" silábica.
Like the word "mama" or "Maria" in most languages
For Spanish Speakers: Se parece a la "n" del Espańol
This is ONE consonant. It is NOT an "n" followed by a "g"! You sound an "n" through your nose at the same time you close the back of your throat pronouncing the "g".
Pronounced with a puff of air after opening the lips.
As if you bite the inside of both cheeks.
Sounds like air escaping from a baloon. The vocal cords DO NOT vibrate. For Spanish Speakers: Se parece a la "s" del Espańol (y a la "z" en América)
she, nation, crash
Pronounced with a puff of air after removing the tip of the tongue from the back of the top teeth..
The tongue goes between the front teeth and the air escapes WITHOUT vibrating the vocal cords.
This sound is produced exactly like "think" above, but it is vocalized! The tongue goes between the front teeth and the air escapes while vibrating the vocal cords.
Put the upper teeth on the lower lip. For Spanish Speakers: Este sonido NO es ni la "v" de ave ni la "v" de invitar. Es un sonido que no existe en Castellano. Se forma tocando el labio inferior con los dientes superiores.
The lips are formed as if to give a kiss.
Sounds the buzzing of a bee. The vocal cords VIBRATE. For Spanish Speakers: Se parece a la "z" de "gozne" y "compadrazgo".
Do not confuse this consonant with that of the words "chop" and "chip".
Middle of tongue and roof of mouth. Vocal cords vibrate.
First a "d" is pronounced and then immediately the body of the tongue touches the whole roof of the mouth. Vocal cords vibrate.
Syllabic l and n
These sounds are difficult for English learners. Many pronounce the "l" and "e" at the end of the English words "little", "uncle", "apple" as they would pronounce them in their native language,
namely, as a separate syllable "le". This is an error and should be corrected.
What happens is the following: After the consonant before the syllabic "l" is pronounced, the "l" forms a weak syllable with the weak vowel .
Similarly, "n" is syllabic in the words "listen" and "fasten". The important thing is for you to remember is that you do not pronounce the "t" of the last syllable. Besides that, the syllabic "n" does not present many problems, because it is part of a real syllable, not of a weak one as in the case of the syllabic a "l" of above.
Listen to both syllabic consonants.
Syllabic l and n
little, uncle, bottle
listen, fasten, often
The apostrophe (word stress)
Most dictionaries use the apostrophe symbol (') to show word stress. Usually, the
apostrophe is placed before the stressed syllable in a word.