From Leo's Notes
Last edited on 30 December 2021, at 01:05.

The IPA English help page on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:IPA/English is a great resource on IPA pronunciation. he notes here is based off that but with notes targeted to how I speak.

If you want to practice IPA, use a transcription service to convert normal text into IPA such as https://tophonetics.com/


Vowels with words as I would say them. All vowels are voiced.

ɔː is used in RP. Eg. not /nɔt/ rhyming with ought while General American English pronounces this as /nɒt/. ɘ is called a schwa and has no jaw drop
Front Central Back
Close i least, the, cheese, cheek

ɪ English ship, kit, mirror, edition

ʊ pull bull, shook, cook

ʊː mood food

u to, Stunde, Uhr

uː boot, Fuß


Central vowels

eː way, may

ɛ bed, air

ə ago, sofa

ɜː certain, bird, burn

ʌ thumb up, fun, curry, un-prefix

ɔ orange, born, sword paw, (rounded of ʌ)

ɔː thought (RP), shore (RP)

Open æ cat, trap, tattoo, ambition


aː palm (RP), bra

ɒ thought (US, rhyme bot), lot, neon

ɑ body, model, hot, start (rounded version of ɒ)

ɑː card

Some vowels are combined, called diphthongs or triphthongs.

a /beɪ/, bay. eɪər player
ea hair
i /baɪ/, buy. pie. aɪər, hire, aɪ.ər, higher
ɔɪ a-oy /bɔɪ/, boy. ɔɪ.ər employer

helps with more of an O sound at the beginning.

əʊ eau /bəʊ/, beau,

like oʊ but from farther back

ow /baʊ/, bough, bow (verb). aʊər flour. mouth, loud
oh goat, mower, home
juː you you
ɪr ear near, beer, deer, here
ɪə e aah dear (RP)
ɜr square, care, fair
ɑr part, large, marvelous, hearth
ɔr north, for, war, horse, short, orchid, swarm
aɪr fire, sapphire, liar, buyer
aʊr tower, hour, flower, cower
ɔːr war

Some subtleties between British and North American pronunciations are given in the table below. 'r's before vowels are hard?

Word RP General American
near /ˈnɪər/ ne-ar /'nʊər/ neer
cure /ˈkjʊər/ cue-er /'kjuːr/ queuer
square /ˈskwɛər/ /ˈskwiːr/
caught /'kɔːt/ /'kɒt'/


IPA Eample
b v buy, cab
d v dye, cad, ladder
dj dew
dʒ v giant, badge, joy
f fan, leaf
g v guy, bag
h high, ahead
hw whine
j v yes, hallelujah
k sky, crack
l v lie, sly, gal
lj v lute
m v my, smile, cam
n v nigh, snide, can
nj v new
ŋ v sang, sink, singer, song
p pie, spy, cap
r v rye, try, very
s sigh, mass
sj consume
ʃ shy, cash, emotion
t tie, sty, cat, latter
tj tune
china, catch, chair
ð v thy, breathe, father

ð is the voiced version of θ

θ thigh, math
θj enthuse
v v vine /vaɪn/, leave, of /ʌv/
w v wine, swine
z v zoo, has
zj v Zeus
ʒ v pleasure, beige

Common Mistakes

Word IPA Incorrect and comment
mischievous /'mɪs tʃə vəs/ /'mɪs tʃe ve ʌs/ (mis-che-vi-ous) with an extra syllable.
triathlon /'traɪ'æθ lɒn/ /'traɪ'æθ a:lɒn/ (tri-ath-a-lon), with an extra syllable.
draught /'dræft/ /'drɔ:t/ or /'draʊt/ (drawt). augh here is like an 'af'.
worcestershire /'wʊstɘrʃɘr/ the first 'r' is dropped. 'shire' is like in New Hampshire and sounds like 'sure'.
hearth /'hɑrθ/ /'hɜrθ/ like 'h' + 'earth'. Should sound like the first half of harp.


British greets with "hello love"

Received Pronunciation

Sound like a rich posh English person on the BBC.

  • bath and path has an extra long 'a'. baah-th , paah-th.
  • -ile endings are pronounced unlike North American. Eg. missile, fertile.
  • 'r' sounds become 'a' like sounds; must be separated if not, and smoothed if it cannot be separated (-ire, -our)
    • ɪr becomes ɪə. beer, bee-ah. sincere, sincere-ah
    • ɜr becomes ɜə. care, caye-ah, fair, faye-ah.
    • ɑr becomes ɑː (super long a). part, paah-t.
    • ɒr needs to be separated. Awe: Orange (Or-range, awe-range). porridge (pour-ridge, pawe-ridge). or All: Dorothy (dor-rithy, dall-rithy), historical (his-tor-rical, his-tall-rical).

Cockney / Estuary

  • th becomes f. three, free.
  • 'l' becomes aw or w. milk, mil-ale-k. mail mawl..sdjf
  • 'h' gets dropped. harry, 'arry. have, 'ave.
  • t is a glottal stop. computer, compu'er.
  • wales is 'wows'.

Midland / Northern

  • cup of tea. cup becomes kuh-p .
  • mug muh-g.
  • up, uh-p
  • love, luuv