44 Phonetic Symbols with Examples

Have you ever seen those strange symbols above the letters in words and wondered what they mean? Those are phonetic symbols, and they represent the specific sounds that letters make. In this blog post, we’ll go over 44 phonetic symbols with examples of how they’re used.

International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a system of phonetic notation that was devised by linguists to accurately and uniquely represent the sounds of spoken language.

The IPA is used by lexicographers, foreign language students and teachers, linguists, speech-language pathologists, singers, actors, constructed language creators, and translators.

As of 2023, the most recent version of the IPA contains 107 letters and 56 diacritics.

The IPA is designed to represent the sound system of any given language – that is, the set of distinctive sounds used in that language. It can therefore be used to describe the pronunciation of any language, whether spoken or signed.

The IPA is not a perfect representation of all human sounds, but it is the most comprehensive system currently available.

In addition to its use as a tool for describing speech sound production, the IPA has also been adopted as a standard for transcribing the languages of the world.

44 phonetic symbols with examples

Phonetic Symbols with Examples

Vowels Phonetic Symbols and Examples

Below are some vowels phonetic symbols:

goose, two, group, blue
price, try, high
ɒ  lot, wash, odd
ɜː nurse, stir, refer, learn
ʌ strut, mud, blood, love
əʊ  goat, no, show
ˈ stress mark
ə  about, standard, common
ɔː thought, north, law, war
aʊ  mouth, now
ʊ  foot, put, good
i happy, glorious, radiate
square. fair, various
ɪə near, weary, here
ɪ kit, bid, minute, hymn
e  dress, bed, many, head
face, break, day
æ  trap, bad
u  situation, influence, thank you
ʊə  poor, cure, jury
 fleece, machine, sea
ɑː father, start
middle, metal
 Cotton, suddenly,
ɔɪ choice, boy

Must Read: 50 Hardest Words To Spellvowel phonetic symbols

Consonants Phonetic Symbols and Examples

Below are some consonants phonetic symbols:

θ thing, path, author
f  fat, rough, coffee, photo
d day, odd, ladder
n nice, funny, know, sun
k key, school, clock
ð this, smooth, other
ʔ football, department,
ŋ anger, sung, ring, thanks
h hot, ahead, whole
s soon, sister, cease
g get, ghost, giggle
l  light, feel, valley
ʃ ship, national, sure
z music, buzz, zero, roses
p pen, happen, copy
b back, job, baby
judge, soldier, age
t  tea, button, tight
r right, wrong, arrange, sorry
m more, sum, hammer
church, nature, match
ʒ vision, pleasure
w wet, one, queen, when
j  yet, use, few, beauty
v view, move, heavy

consonants phonetic symbols

Long and Short Vowels

Short Vowels

A short vowel sound word is usually a one-syllable word with a single vowel. The most common short vowel sound is the /a/ sound, as in the words “cat,” “bat,” and “fat.”

Below are short vowel symbols with examples:

Symbol Examples
ʌ  money, Fun, one, love
e  send, letter, intend, went
ɒ  watch, Rob, squat, top
ə  mother, Alive,, again
ʊ  should, cook, look, put
æ  nap, flat, hand, cat

Long Vowels

A long vowel sound word is usually a one-syllable word with a single vowel, but the difference is that they are pronounced differently than short vowels. For example, the /a/ sound in “cake” and “bake” is much longer and more drawn out than the /a/ in “cat.”

Symbol Examples
u:  fruit, lose, gloomy
ɑ: hard, car, fast
ɜ: third, heard, nurse
ɔ:  jaw, bored, yawn, talk
i: team, beat, Need

Diphthong Vowels

A diphthong vowel sound is when two vowel sounds are blended together in one syllable. For example, the /ou/ sound in “house” and the /oi/ sound in “coin.” These vowels combinations produce a unique sound that can be difficult to distinguish from a long vowel.

Symbol  Examples 
 pear, there, stairs
ɪə ear, tear, fear
 pride, sight, kind
brown, house, cow
ɔɪ  toy, employ, coil
 rain , space, case
əʊ  stones, don’t, alone

Long and short vowels

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