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70 IPA Symbols British English Lessons

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation that was devised in the 19th century as a standardised way of representing the sounds of speech in written form. The British English IPA chart consists of 44 symbols representing the pure vowels (monophthongs), the gliding vowels (diphthongs), and the consonant sounds of spoken British English. The Britlish Library contains a wealth of lessons to help you to learn, remember, and use the British English IPA symbols efficiently whether you are a student or a teacher.

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10 of our 70 IPA Symbols British English Lessons

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Vowel in Owl / aʊ /

Activate the Vowel in Owl / aʊ / with this Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the eighth and last of the gliding vowels / aʊ /. This is also the last of the 20 British English vowels on our IPA chart. We will look at the letter combinations that give the / aʊ / sound. We will look at lots of words which have the / aʊ / sound in them. Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / aʊ / sound correctly. Letter Combinations for / aʊ / - This gliding vowel sound is the vowel sound with the fewest letter combinations, being formed from only: OU and OW. There are two vowel sound which have the potential to cause confusion with the / aʊ / sound. These are the / ɔː / and the / ɑː / sounds. I looked at the minimal pairs / ɔː / vs / aʊ / in Pronunciation Activation Pack 8 – the Vowel in Horse, so I will not cover it in this lesson. In this lesson, I will look at the / aʊ / vs / ɑː / minimal pairs.


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Vowel in Pure / ʊə /

Activate the Vowel in Pure / ʊə / with this English Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the one sound on the British IPA chart that is in danger of disappearing in many words. The sound is the / ʊə / sound which used to be heard in words like pure and poor. I say used to be heard, because since the middle of the 20th Century, the / ʊə / sound has been replaced by the / ɔː / sound, so pure / pjʊə / is now / pjɔː /. Though the / ʊə / sound has been replaced by the / ɔː / sound among the young, middle aged RP English speakers may still use the old / ʊə / sound. For anyone who was born after the 1950s, myself included, these pronunciations sound rather old-fashioned and are difficult to produce. This gliding vowel sound has, or rather had, these letter combinations: OOR, OUR, URE, UR, UE, and UA. The biggest problem for students is that the / ʊə / sound is one of the least frequent vowel sounds in British English. It is also becoming less frequent as time goes on, so students ought to follow the modern pronunciation and use the / ɔː / sound in place of the older / ʊə / sound. Purists, particularly older ones, might disagree, but I would argue that the proof of the pudding is in the hearing.  


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Vowel in Sun / ʌ /

Activate The Vowel in Sun / ʌ / with this English Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the tenth of the pure vowels / ʌ /. We will look at the letter combinations that give the / ʌ / sound. We will look at lots of words which have the / ʌ / sound in them. Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / ʌ / sound correctly. The short vowel sound / ʌ / has these letter combinations: U, O. OU, OO, OE. There are four other vowel sounds that cause confusion with the / ʌ / sound. You will hear me pronounce over 1000 words containing these vowel sounds.


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Vowel in Toy / ɔɪ /

Activate the Vowel in Toy / ɔɪ / with this English Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the fifth of the gliding vowels / ɔɪ /. We will look at the letter combinations that give the / ɔɪ / sound. We will look at lots of words which have the / ɔɪ / sound in them. Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / ɔɪ / sound correctly. Letter Combinations for / ɔɪ / - This gliding vowel sound has these letter combinations: OI, OY, and very rarely UOY and AW. There is only one other vowel sound that has the potential to cause confusion with the / ɔɪ / sound and that is the pure vowel sound / ɔː /.


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Vowel in Train / eɪ /

Activate the Vowel in Train / eɪ / with this English Pronunciation Activation Pack. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the fourth of the gliding vowels / eɪ /. We will look at the letter combinations that give the / eɪ / sound. We will look at lots of words which have the / eɪ / sound in them. Finally, we will activate your ability to hear and produce the / eɪ / sound correctly. Letter Combinations for / eɪ / - This gliding vowel sound has these letter combinations: A, AI, AY EI, EIGH, EY, and EA and rarely AU, AO, and E and from French ER, ET, and EE. There are two other vowel sounds that cause confusion with the / eɪ / sound. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack I’ll look at the / eɪ / vs / ɪ / minimal pairs and the / eɪ / vs / e / minimal pairs. 


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Vowel in Tree / iː /

Master the Vowel in Tree / iː / with this English Pronunciation Activation Pack. The biggest problem for students is hearing and producing the difference between the long vowel / iː / and the short vowel / ɪ /. These two sounds are next to each other on the IPA chart and are thus very similar. The difference is one of length, and the Pronunciation Activator will give you lots of practice with minimal pairs containing the long vowel / iː / and the short vowel / ɪ /. With enough practice you will soon be able to distinguish the two sounds.


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Vowel in Woman

Activate the Vowel in Woman / ʊ / with this English Pronunciation Activation Pack. The pure vowel sound / ʊ / can be formed by these letter combinations: U, OO, O, OU, OR, and OE. The pronunciation Activator will give you 10 randomly selected questions designed to activate your pronunciation and listening skills regarding the vowel sound in woman.


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Words Ending in -cuit

There are only two English words which end with the -cuit letter combination and both cause pronunciation problems for students. This lesson will look at both words, circuit and biscuit, and show you how to correctly pronounce them. It will also look at some sentences and expressions which use these words and will look at the speech features in those sentences. Features like the linking R, syllabic consonants, and elision are highlighted and explained.


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Words Ending in -try

A vocabulary and pronunciation activator which will help you with the following words: try, entry, gantry, pantry, poetry, pastry, paltry, sultry, wintry, country, poultry, ancestry, industry, forestry, toiletry, dentistry, chemistry, carpentry, circuitry, and psychiatry. Not only will you learn how to use each of the words, but you will also learn how to pronounce sentences using them. I have analysed the speech features of each of the sentences to show you how English pronunciation works and to help you improve your own pronunciation, too. You can read each sentence in IPA symbols, too, giving you the chance to see how linking features like the linking R, the linking J, the linking W, and linking consonants work.


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Words Ending in the Syllabic Consonant -*n

A syllabic consonant is a consonant that is pronounced as a syllable. The two main syllabic consonants in English are /l/ or /n/ sounds. The /n/ in the final syllable of words occurs in words like listen, while the /l/ syllabic consonant occurs at the end of word such as bottle. Syllabic consonants occur mainly in the final syllable of words but can also occur at the beginning or within words, too. In this lesson, we will look at the 10 sounds that precede final-syllable /n/ syllabic consonants. I’ve taken 11 English words that have a final-syllable /n/ syllabic consonant sound. These are representative of the most common sound and letter combinations that give us a syllabic consonant /n/ at the end of words. I have chosen one word for each of the following sounds which commonly precede the /n/ syllable consonant: /t/, /d/, /p/, /s/, /z/, /f/, /v/, /θ/, /ʃ/, and /ʒ/. The words include: button, garden, happen, listen, cousin, soften, seven, strengthen, fashion, musician, and occasion.


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10 of our 70 IPA Symbols British English Lessons


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