IPA Pronunciation Guide - Collins English Dictionary


The symbols used in the pronunciation transcriptions are those of the International Phonetic Alphabet. The following consonant symbols have their usual English values: b, d, f, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w, z.
The remaining symbols and their interpretations are listed below.

Length

The symbol ː denotes length and is shown together with certain vowel symbols when the vowels are typically long.

Stress

Three grades of stress are shown in the transcriptions by the presence or absence of marks placed immediately before the affected syllable. Primary or strong stress is shown by ‘, while secondary or weak stress is shown by ,. In photographic (,fəʊtə’græfɪk), for example, the first syllable carries secondary stress and the third primary stress.

Notes

(i) Though words like castle, path, and fast are shown as pronounced with an /ɑː/ sound, many speakers use an /æ/. Such variations are acceptable and are to be assumed by the reader.

(ii) The letter ‘r’ in some positions is not sounded in the speech of Southern England and elsewhere. However, many speakers in other areas do sound the ‘r’ in such positions with varying degrees of distinctness. Again such variations are to be assumed, and in such words as fern, fear, and arm the reader will sound or not sound the ‘r’ according to his or her speech habits.

(iii) Though the widely received pronunciation of words like which and why is with a simple /w/ sound and is so shown in the dictionary, many speakers in Scotland and elsewhere preserve an aspirated sound: /hw/. Once again this variation is to be assumed.

English Sounds

Letter Example
ɑː as in father (‘fɑːðə), alms (ɑːmz), clerk (klɑːk), heart (hɑːt), sergeant (‘sɑːdʒənt)
æ as in act (ækt), Caedmon (‘kædmən), plait (plæt)
as in dive (daɪv), aisle (aɪl), guy (gaɪ), might (maɪt), rye (raɪ)
aɪə as in fire (‘faɪə), buyer (‘baɪə), liar (‘laɪə), tyre (‘taɪə)
as in out (aʊt), bough (baʊ), crowd (kraʊd), slouch (slaʊtʃ)
aʊə as in flour (‘flaʊə), cower (‘kaʊə), flower (‘flaʊə), sour (‘saʊə)
ε as in bet (bεt), bury (‘bεrɪ), heifer (‘hεfə), said (sεd), says (sεz)
as in paid (peɪd), day (deɪ), deign (deɪn), gauge (geɪdʒ), grey (greɪ), neigh (neɪ)
εə as in bear (bεə), dare (dεə), prayer (prεə), stairs (stεəz), where (wεə)
g as in get (gεt), give (gɪv), ghoul (guːl), guard (gɑːd), examine (ig’zæmɪn)
ɪ as in pretty (‘prɪtɪ), build (bɪld), busy (‘bɪzɪ), nymph (nɪmf), pocket (‘pʊkɪt), sieve (sɪv), women (‘wɪmɪn)
as in see (siː), aesthete (‘iːsθiːt), evil (‘iːvəl), magazine (,mægə’ziːn), receive (rɪ’siːv), siege (siːdʒ)
ɪə as in fear (fɪə), beer (bɪə), mere (mɪə), tier (tɪə)
j  as in yes (jεs), onion (‘ʌnjən), vignette (vɪ’njεt)
ɒ as in pot (pɒt), botch (bɒtʃ), sorry (‘sɒrɪ)
əʊ as in note (nəʊt), beau (bəʊ), dough (dəʊ), hoe (həʊ), slow (sləʊ), yeoman (‘jəʊmən)
ɔː as in thaw (θɔː), broad (brɔːd), drawer (‘drɔːə), fault (fɔːlt), halt (hɔːlt), organ (‘ɔːgən)
ɔɪ as in void (vɔɪd), boy (bɔɪ), destroy (di’strɔɪ)
υ as in pull (pʊl), good (gʊd), should (ʃʊd), woman (‘wʊmən)
as in zoo (zuː), do (duː), queue (kjuː), shoe (ʃuː), spew (spjuː), true (truː), you (juː)
ʊə as in poor (pʊə), skewer (skjʊə), sure (ʃʊə)
ə as in potter (‘pɒtə), alone (ə’ləʊn), furious (‘fjʊərɪəs), nation (‘neɪʃən), the (ðə)
ɜː as in fern (fɜːn), burn (bɜːn), fir (fɜː), learn (lɜːn), term (tɜːm)
ʌ as in cut (kʌt), flood (flʌd), rough (rʌf), son (sʌn)
ʃ as in ship (ʃɪp), election (ɪ’lεkʃən), machine (mə’ʃiːn), mission (‘mɪʃən), pressure (‘prεʃə), schedule (‘ʃεdjuːl), sugar (‘ʃʊgə)
ʒ as in treasure (‘trεʒə), azure (‘æʒə), closure (‘kləʊʒə), evasion (ɪ’veɪʒən)
as in chew (tʃuː), nature (‘neɪtʃə)
as in jaw (dʒɔː), adjective (‘ædʒɪktɪv), lodge (lɒdʒ), soldier (‘səʊldʒə), usage (‘juːsɪdʒ)
θ as in thin (θɪn), strength (strεŋθ), three (θriː)
ð as in these (ðiːz), bathe (beɪð), lather (‘lɑːðə)
ŋ as in sing (sɪŋ), finger (‘fɪŋgə), sling (slɪŋ)
ə indicates that the following consonant (l or n) is syllabic, as in bundle (‘bʌndəl), button (‘bʌtən)
x as in Scottish loch (lɒx)
əi as in Scottish aye (əɪ), bile (bəɪl), byke (bəɪk)

Foreign Sounds

The symbols above are also used to represent foreign sounds where these are similar to English sounds. However, certain common foreign sounds require symbols with markedly different values, as follows:

Letter Example
a a in French ami, German Mann, Italian pasta: a sound between English (æ) and (ɑː), similar to the vowel in Northern English cat or London cut
ɑ a in French bas: a sound made with a tongue position similar to that of English (ɑː), but shorter
e é in French été, eh in German sehr, e in Italian che: a sound similar to the first part of the English diphthong (eɪ) in day or to the Scottish vowel in day
i i in French il, German Idee, Spanish filo, Italian signore: a sound made with a tongue position similar to that of English (iː), but shorter
ɔ o in Italian no, French bonne, German Sonne: a vowel resembling English (ɒ), but with a higher tongue position and more rounding of the lips
o o in French rose, German so, Italian voce: a sound between English (ɔː) and (uː) with closely rounded lips, similar to the Scottish vowel in so
u ou in French genou, u in German kulant, Spanish puna: a sound made with a tongue position similar to that of English (uː), but shorter
y u in French tu, ü in German über or fünf: a sound made with a tongue position similar to that of English (iː), but with closely rounded lips
ø eu in French deux, ö in German schön: a sound made with the tongue position of (e), but with closely rounded lips
œ œu in French œuf, ö in German zwölf: a sound made with a tongue position similar to that of English (ε), but with open rounded lips
˜ above a vowel indicates nasalization, as in French un ( ˜), bon (b˜ɔ), vin (v˜ε), blanc (blɑ˜)
x ch in Scottish loch, German Buch, j in Spanish Juan
ç ch in German ich: a (j) sound as in yes, said without voice; similar to the first sound in huge
β b in Spanish Habana: a voiced fricative sound similar to (v), but made by the two lips
ʎ ll in Spanish llamar, gl in Italian consiglio: similar to the (lj) sequence in million, but with the tongue tip lowered and the sounds said simultaneously
ɥ u in French lui: a short (y)
ɲ gn in French vigne, Italian gnocchi, ñ in Spanish España: similar to the (nj) sequence in onion, but with the tongue tip lowered and the two sounds said simultaneously
ɣ g in Spanish luego: a weak (g) made with voiced friction