Key to pronunciation

To hear any pronunciation spoken aloud, click the blue play icon to the left of each transcription.

The pronunciations given are those in use among educated urban speakers of standard English in Britain and the United States. While avoiding strongly regionally or socially marked forms, they are intended to include the most common variants for each word. The keywords given in this key are to be understood as pronounced in such speech.

Words particularly associated with other parts of the English-speaking world are also given pronunciations in the appropriate global variety of English. Keys and details of each model can be found here.

 

Vowels

British U.S. As in…
i fleece
i i happy
ɪ ɪ kit
ɛ ɛ dress
a ɛ carry
a æ trap
ɑː ɑ father
ɒ ɑ lot
ɔː ɔ, ɑ hawk
ʌ ə cup
ʊ ʊ foot
u goose
ə ə alpha
ɔː ɔr force 
əː ər nurse 
ɪə ɪ(ə)r here
ɛː ɛ(ə)r square
ʊə ʊ(ə)r cure
face 
ʌɪ price
mouth
əʊ goa
ɔɪ ɔɪ choice
ã æ̃ fin de siècle 
ɒ̃ ɑ̃ bon mot 

ᵻ represents free variation between /ɪ/ and /ə/
ᵿ represents free variation between /ʊ/ and /ə/

Consonants

As in…
b big /bɪɡ/
d dig /dɪɡ/ 
jet /dʒɛt/
ð then /ðɛn/
f fig /fɪɡ/
ɡ get /ɡɛt/
h how /haʊ/
j yes /jɛs/
k kit /kɪt/
l leg /lɛɡ/
m main /meɪn/
n net /nɛt/
ŋ thing /θɪŋ/
p pit /pɪt/
r rain /reɪn/
s sit /sɪt/
ʃ ship /ʃɪp/
t tame /teɪm/
chip /tʃɪp/
θ thin /θɪn/
v vet /vɛt/
w win /wɪn/
z zip /zɪp/
ʒ vision /ˈvɪʒ(ə)n/
x (Scottish) loch /lɒx/
ɬ (Welsh) penillion /pɛˈnɪɬɪən/

The consonants l, m, and n can take on the function of a vowel in some unstressed syllables. It should generally be clear when this interpretation is intended, but in cases of potential ambiguity, the consonant symbol appears with a diacritic, as l̩, m̩ and n̩, as e.g. meddle /ˈmɛdl/, meddling /ˈmɛdl̩ɪŋ/.

After a vowel, U.S. English can have /r/ regardless of the sound which follows, whereas British English retains the /r/ only when it is followed by a vowel. Compare U.S. mar /mɑr/, marring /ˈmɑrɪŋ/ with British mar /mɑː/, marring /ˈmɑːrɪŋ/

Between vowels, except at the start of a stressed syllable, U.S. English has /d/ where British English has /t/. Compare U.S. butter /ˈbədər/, and waiting /ˈweɪdɪŋ/ (as against wait /weɪt/) with British butter /ˈbʌtə/, waiting /ˈweɪtɪŋ/, wait /weɪt/.

U.S. speakers are more likely than British speakers to distinguish between wear (with /w/) and where (with either /w/ or /hw/).

Stress

The symbol ˈ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with primary stress. The symbol ˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with secondary stress. The symbol ˈˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable may be pronounced with either primary or secondary stress.