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Mastering English Pronunciation

The English language is full of tricky pronunciations. But don’t let that put you off, this short article on English pronunciation will help you to understand what the symbols of the English language mean and how to pronounce them correctly. The pronunciation included here is that of Standard English, different dialects and regional accents may lead to a slightly different pronunciation. However, if you stick to learning these, you will most likely both be able to be understood and understand other people.

English Pronunciation: Consonants

Let’s first take a look at the English pronunciation of consonants:

p pen /pen/
b bad /bæd/
t tea /tiː/
d did /dɪd/
k cat /kæt/
ɡ get /ɡet/
chain /tʃeɪn/
jam /dʒæm/
f fall /fɔːl/
v van /væn/
θ thin /θɪn/
ð this /ðɪs/
s see /siː/
z zoo /zuː/
ʃ shoe /ʃuː/
ʒ vision /ˈvɪʒn/
h hat /hæt/
m man /mæn/
n now /naʊ/
ŋ sing /sɪŋ/
l leg /leɡ/
r red /red/
j yes /jes/
w wet /wet/

English Pronunciation: Vowels

see /siː/
i happy /ˈhæpi/
ɪ sit /sɪt/
e ten /ten/
æ cat /kæt/
ɑː father /ˈfɑːðə(r)/
ɒ got /ɡɒt/ (British English)
ɔː saw /sɔː/
ʊ put /pʊt/
u actual /ˈæktʃuəl/
too /tuː/
ʌ cup /kʌp/
ɜː fur /fɜː(r)/
ə about /əˈbaʊt/
say /seɪ/
əʊ go /ɡəʊ/ (British English)
go /ɡoʊ/ (American English)
my /maɪ/
ɔɪ boy /bɔɪ/
now /naʊ/
ɪə near /nɪə(r)/ (British English)
hair /heə(r)/ (British English)
ʊə pure /pjʊə(r)/ (British English)

Other Useful Information

Now that we’ve taken a look at the pronunciation of the symbols you will come across when learning the English language, we can move on to discuss some of the other helpful information about pronunciation.

It is worth noting that some consonants can form a syllable alone. For example, the /l/ in middle and the /n/ in sudden. On the same note, some vowels are known as ‘weak vowels’, /i/ and /u/ are known to be the weak vowels as they are often unstressed syllables.

Some words have weak and strong forms, meaning that they can be stressed or unstressed depending on the context. Words that this happens in are at, for and can, for example.  This occurs in this scenario: Can /kən/ you help?  I’ll help if I can /kæn/.

English Pronunciation: In summary

The English language is full of little quirks to throw us off, and the best way to pick up the intricacies of pronunciation is by listening to others speak the language. The above article appears quite technical, but when you hear the symbols spoken aloud, it is much more simple.

Enjoyed reading our article on connecting words and phrases in English? Take a look at our latest English grammar article, ‘Here or Hear: What’s the Difference?’…

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