Phonetics: vowels

This table shows English vowel sounds with IPA symbols (International Phonetic Alphabet) and standard symbols (std). The words in parentheses represent the IPA transcription. Standard symbols are used in most English dictionaries.

For each sound there is a word that demonstrates where the sound occurs (word initial, middle, or word final) and how the sound occurs (what letter or letter combinations). Click on the words to get an idea of these sounds. Pay attention to the sound of the letters in bold.

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English Vowel Sounds
IPA std examples
 I ĭ it
(It)
dish
(dI)
 
 
i ē she
(i)
green
(gin
machine
(min)
sunny
(sni)
ski
(ski)
please
(pliz)
 
ĕ red
(d)
head
(hd)
said
(sd)
    any
(ni)
   
 
ă and
(nd)
plaid
(pld)
 
 
ŏ hot
(ht
father
(f)
 
 
ô August
(gst)
thaw
()
bought
bt)
    fall
(fl)
   
 
put
(pt)
book
(bk)
should
(d)
 
u ū room
(rum)
who
(hu)
through
(ru)
you
(ju)
shoe
(u)
July
(uli)
flew
(flu)
two
(tu)
blue
(blu)
 
ŭ up
(p)
tough
(tf)
 
 
  sofa
(sf)
enemy
(nmi)
incredible
(Inkrdbl)
gallop
(glp)
focus
(fks)
 
The symbol is called a schwa.
 
Diphthongs
eI ā they
(eI)
gray
(geI)
aid
(eId)
ate
(eIt)
great
(greIt)
freight
(freIt)
résumé
(
rzumei)
   
 
aI ī fine
(faIn)
aisle
(aIl)
sight
(saIt)
why
(waI)
bye
(baI)
lie
(laI)
buy
(baI)
guide
(gaId)
 
 
oi toy
(t)
noise
(nz)
 
 
ou cow
(k)
house
(hs)
 
 
ō snowing
(snwIŋ)
sew
(s)
though
()
hello
(hl)
toe
(t)
soap
(sp)
 
ju y unite
(junaIt)
humid
(hjumId
few
(fju)
ewe
(ju)
youth
(ju)
eulogy
(julgi)
 
Vowel sounds with "r" endings
  arm
(m)
guard
(gd)
heart
(ht)
 
  ore
()
floor
(flr)
four
(f)
    more
(m)
   
 
  near
(n)
here
(h)
cheers
(s)
    pier
(p)
   
 
  hair
(h)
where
(w)
mare
(m)
merry
(mI)
their
()
 
 
  burn
(bn)
learn
(ln)
sir
(s)
October
(ktb)
worm
(wm
 

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