The Phonetic Alphabet in English
API (International Phonetic Alphabet)
Learning the symbols of the API will help you speak more clearly and naturally. Memorize them, concentrating particularly on the sounds that are not present in your mother tongue. Try to learn the symbols gradually, little by little. When you look up a word in the dictionary, you can read the phonetic transcription that can generally be found in brackets after the word itself. Also, pay attention to the differences in pronunciation between British English and American English. Learn the pronunciation that corresponds to the style of English you are interested in learning.
Finally, pay attention to ‘stress ‘. The API indicates the main accent with a /’/ in front of the syllable which is ‘stressed‘. The secondary accent is indicated by a /,/ in front of the syllable in question. Finally, a /./ indicates an interruption in a syllable. To understand how to stress English syllables correctly, start with words that you already know how to pronounce well. Look them up in the dictionary and check where the stress falls in the phonetic transcription. In this way, you can learn how to apply the same principles and tonality to new words.
Schwa. This is a very common phoneme in English that is found in many words. It is a reduced vowel, often found in the final syllable of a word. It can also be found in some words where the only vowel is found between two consonants. (See ABA English’s article for more information.).
father /ˈfɑːðə(r)/ , mother /ˈmʌðə(r)/ .
It is also present in unaccented closed syllables.
president /ˈprezɪdənt/, experiment /ɪkˈsperɪmənt/.
It is associated with the grapheme ‘o’ preceded by “w” and followed by “r”.
word /wɜː(r)d/, world /wɜː(r)ld/.
This phoneme is a short vowel close to ‘a’. English it is associated with the grapheme ‘o’ in front of the consonants ‘w’ o ‘c’ and after an ‘n’.
onion /ˈʌnjən/, wonderful /ˈwʌndə(r)f(ə)l/, money /ˈmʌni/, monk /mʌŋk/, month /mʌnθ/ , summer /ˈsʌmə(r)/ , up /ʌp/), to cut /kʌt/.
to be /biː/ , English /ˈɪŋɡlɪʃ/, sea /siː/, evil /ˈiːv(ə)l/, feet /fiːt/, team /tiːm/, stream /striːm/, cream /kriːm/.
Short vowel in closed tonic syllables.
Kidney /ˈkɪdni/ , kit /kɪt/ , minute /ˈmɪnɪt/ , to hit /hɪt/, in /in/.
This diphthong is generally associated with the following graphemes: ‘a’ in cake , the ‘ai’ in brain , the ‘ay’ in play, the ‘ei’ in eight , the ‘ey’ in they , and the ‘ea’ in break.
Way, /wei/, to say, /to sei/, main, /mein/, lane, /lein/, face, /feis/, day, /dei/.
A diphthong found in open tonic syllables, associated with the grapheme ‘i‘ followed by ld, nd, gh, gn.
mild /maild/ , night /nait/ , fight /fait/ , right /rait/ , high /haɪ/, mind /maind/ .
When an ‘i ‘ is followed by an ‘r ‘ in an open syllable.
hire /ˈhaɪə(r)/, fire /ˈfaɪə(r)/, to require /rɪˈkwaɪə(r)/.
Price /praɪs/, to try /to traɪ/, mine /maɪn/ , eye /aɪ/.
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