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The latest official IPA chart, revised in 2020

Here is a basic key to the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet. For the smaller set of symbols that is sufficient for English, see Help:IPA/English. Several rare IPA symbols are not included; these are found in the main IPA article or on the extensive IPA chart. For the Manual of Style guideline for pronunciation, see Resource: Manual of Style/Pronunciation.

For each IPA symbol, an English example is given where possible; here "RP" stands for Received Pronunciation. The foreign languages that are used to illustrate additional sounds are primarily the ones most likely to be familiar to English speakers, French, Standard German, and Spanish. For symbols not covered by those, recourse is taken to the populous languages Standard Chinese, Hindustani, Arabic, and Russian. For sounds still not covered, other smaller but better analyzed languages are used, for example Swahili and Zulu (for the Bantu branch) or Turkish (for Turkic branch) for their respective related languages.

The left-hand column displays the individual symbols in square brackets ( .) Click on "listen" to hear the sound; click on the symbol itself for a dedicated article with a more complete description and examples from multiple languages. Consonant sounds are spoken once followed by a vowel and once between vowels.

Main symbols

The symbols are arranged by similarity to letters of the Latin alphabet. Symbols which do not resemble any Latin letter are placed at the end.

Symbol Examples Description
German Mann, French gare For many English speakers, the first part of the ow sound in cow. Found in some dialects of English in cat or father.
Mandarin ? t?, American English father, Spanish casa, French patte
RP cut, German Kaiserslautern (In transcriptions of English, [?] is usually written ???.)
RP father, French pâte, Dutch bad
French Caen, sans, temps Nasalized [?].
RP cot Like [?], but with the lips slightly rounded.
American English cut Like [?], but without the lips being rounded. (When ??? is used for English, it may really be [?] or [?].)
RP cat
English babble
Swahili bwana Like a [b] said with a gulp. See implosive consonants.
Spanish la Bamba, Kinyarwanda abana "children", Korean [mu?uwa?] mugunghwa Like [b], but with the lips not quite closed.
Nias simbi [si?i] "lower jaw" Sputtering.
Turkish kebap "kebab", Czech stín "shadow", Greek ? "and" Between English tune (RP) and cute. Sometimes used instead for [t?] in languages like Hindi.
German Ich More of a y-coloration (more palatal) than [x]. Some English speakers have a similar sound in huge. To produce this sound, try whispering loudly the word "ye" as in "Hear ye!".
Mandarin Xi'an, Polish ?ciana More y-like than [?]; something like English she.
see under O
English dad
Swahili Dodoma Like [d] said with a gulp.
American English harder Like [d] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
English the, bathe
English adds, Italian zero
English judge
Polish nied?wied? "bear" Like [d?], but with more of a y-sound.
Polish d?em "jam" Like [d?] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
Spanish fe; French clé, German Klee Similar to English hey, before the y sets in.
Australian English bird
English above, Hindi [?] (thug) "thief" (Only occurs in English when not stressed.)
American English runner
English bet
French Saint-Étienne, vin, main Nasalized [?].
RP bird (long)
American English bird
English fun
see under J
see under J
English gag (Should look like Opentail g.svg. No different from a Latin "g")
Swahili Uganda Like [?] said with a gulp.
Like [?], but further back, in the throat. Found in Persian and some Arabic dialects for /q/, as in Muammar Gaddafi.
see under Z English beige.
American English house
English ahead, when said quickly.
The extra puff of air in English top [tp] compared to stop [st?p], or to French or Spanish [t].
Arabic ?? Muhammad Far down in the throat, like [h], but stronger.
see under Y
see under L
English sea, French ville, Spanish Valladolid
English sit
Russian "you" Often used for unstressed English roses.
English yes, hallelujah, German Junge
In Russian ??? ['l?enn] Indicates a sound is more y-like.
Spanish cayo (some dialects) Like [j], but stronger.
Turkish gör "see", Czech díra "hole" Between English dew (RP) and argue. Sometimes used instead for [d?] in languages like Hindi.
Swahili jambo Like [?] said with a gulp.
English kick, skip
English leaf
English wool
Russian ? ['mj] "small"
"Dark" el.
Welsh llwyd [d] "grey"
Zulu hlala [?a:la] "sit"
By touching roof of mouth with tongue and giving a quick breath out. Found in Welsh placenames like Llangollen and Llanelli and Nelson Mandela's Xhosa name Rolihlahla.
Like [l] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
A flapped [l], like [l] and [?] said together.
Zulu dla "eat" Rather like [l] and [?], or [l] and [ð], said together.
English mime
English symphony Like [m], but lips touch teeth as they do in [f].
see under W
see under W
English nun
English sing, M?ori nga
Spanish Peña, French champagne Rather like English canyon (/nj/ said quickly).
Hindi ? [ru?] Varuna Like [n] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
Castilian Spanish Don Juan [do?'?wan] Like [?], but further back, in the throat.
Spanish no, French eau, German Boden Somewhat reminiscent of American English no.
German Oldenburg, French Garonne
French Lyon, son Nasalized [?].
French feu, boeufs, German Goethe Like [e], but with the lips rounded like [o].
Dutch hut, French je, Swedish dum Halfway between [o] and [ø]. Similar to [?] but with the tongue slightly more down and front. The Dutch vowel is often transcribed with ??? or ?oe?, whereas the French vowel is typically transcribed with ???.
French boeuf, seul, German Göttingen Like [?], but with the lips rounded like [?].
French brun, parfum Nasalized [oe].
see under Others
see under Others
English pip
Arabic ?? Qur'?n Like [k], but further back, in the throat.
Spanish perro, Scots borrow "Rolled R". (Often used for other rhotics, such as English [?], when there's no ambiguity.)
Spanish pero, Tagalog daliri, Malay kabar, American English kitty/kiddie "Flapped R".
Dutch rood and German rot (some speakers) A trill in the back of the throat. Found for /r/ in some conservative registers of French.
Urdu ? [s?.k] "road" Like flapped [?], but with the tongue curled back.
RP borrow
Tamil ? Pu?u "Worm", Mandarin ? Rénmín Rìbào "People's Daily", American English borrow, butter Like [?], but with the tongue curled or pulled back, as pronounced by many English speakers.
French Paris, German Riemann (some dialects) Said back in the throat, but not trilled.
English sass
English shoe
Mandarin (Shàolín), Russian ? (Pushkin) Acoustically similar to [?], but with the tongue curled or pulled back.
English tot, stop
Hindi [?] (thug) "thief" Like [t], but with the tongue curled or pulled back.
English cats, Russian ? tsar
English church
Mandarin B?ij?ng (listen), Polish ciebie "you" Like [t?], but with more of a y-sound.
Mandarin zh?nzhèng, Polish czas Like [t?] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
American English food, French vous "you", German Schumacher
English foot, German Bundesrepublik
Australian English food (long) Like [?], but with the lips rounded as for [u].
see under Y
see under W
English verve
Hindi ? [ru] "Varuna" Between [v] and [w]. Used by some Germans and Russians for v/w, and by some speakers of British English for r.
see under Y
see under Y
see under A
English wow
Indicates a sound has lip rounding, as in English rain
what (some dialects) like [h] and [w] said together
Turkish kay?k "caïque", Scottish Gaelic gaol Like [u], but with the lips flat; something like [?].
Spanish agua Like [w], but with the lips flat.
Scottish English loch, German Bach, Russian ? [xl?ep] "bread", Spanish joven between [k] and [h]
northern Standard Dutch Scheveningen, Castilian Spanish Don Juan [do?'?wan] Like [x], but further back, in the throat. Some German and Arabic speakers have [?] for [x].
French rue, German Bülow Like [i], but with the lips rounded as for [u].
German Düsseldorf Like [?], but with the lips rounded as for [?].
Arabic ?? gh?l? and Swahili ghali "expensive", Spanish suegro Sounds rather like French [?] or between [?] and [h].
Mandarin Hénán, Scottish Gaelic taigh Like [o] but without the lips rounded, something like a cross of [?] and [?].
Italian tagliatelle, Portuguese mulher Like [l], but more y-like. Rather like English volume.
French lui Like [j] and [w] said together.
English zoo
English vision, French journal
old-styled Russian ? ['po?:e] "later", Polish ?le More y-like than [?], something like beigey.
Russian ? "fat" Like [?] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
see under L
English thigh, bath
Japanese [d?i] Fuji, M?ori [a:?e:'nui:] wharenui Like [p], but with the lips not quite touching
English uh-oh, Hawai'i, German die Angst The 'glottal stop', a catch in the breath. For some people, found in button ['bn?], or between vowels across words: Deus ex machina [?desks'm?:k?n?]; in some nonstandard dialects, in a apple [?'?æpl?].
Arabic ?? ?arab? "Arabic" A light, voiced sound deep in the throat, articulated with the root of the tongue against the pharynx (back of the throat).
English tsk-tsk! or tut-tut!, Zulu icici "earring" (The English click used for disapproval.) Several distinct sounds, written as digraphs, including [k?], [], []. The Zimbabwean MP Ncube has this click in his name, as did Cetshwayo.
English tchick! tchick!, Zulu ixoxo "frog" (The English click used to urge on a horse.) Several distinct sounds, written as digraphs, including [k?], [], []. Found in the name of the Xhosa.
Zulu iqaqa "polecat" (The English click used to imitate the trotting of a horse.) A hollow popping sound, like a cork pulled from a bottle. Several distinct sounds, written as digraphs, including [k?], [], [].
?'Amkoe ?oa "two" Like a kissing sound.
Khoekhoe ?g?-am?nâ [?à?ámã?] "to put in the mouth" Like an imitation of a chewing sound.

Marks added to letters

Several marks can be added above, below, before or after letters. These are here shown on a carrier letter such as the vowel a. A more complete list is given at International Phonetic Alphabet § Diacritics and prosodic notation.

Symbol Example Description
Signs above a letter
[ã] French vin blanc [v bl] "white wine" A nasal vowel, as with a Texas twang
[ä] Portuguese vá [vä] "go" A central vowel pronounced with the tongue position in the middle of the mouth; neither forward nor back
[?] English police [p'li?s] An extra-short speech sound (usually a vowel)
Signs below a letter
[a?] English cow [k?a], koi [k?] This vowel does not form a syllable of its own, but runs into the vowel next to it. (In English, the diacritic is generally left off: [ka?].)
[n?] English boy [b?], doe [d?o]

(see also)

Sounds like a loud whisper; [n?] is like a whispered breath through the nose. [l?] is found in Tibetan Lhasa.
[n?] English button A consonant without a vowel (English [n?] is often transcribed /?n/.)
[d?] Spanish dos, French deux The tongue touches the teeth more than it does in English.
Signs next to a letter
[k?] English come Aspirated consonant, pronounced with a puff of air. Similarly [t? p? ts? t t].
[k'] Zulu ukuza "come" Ejective. Like a popped [k], pushed from the throat. Similarly [t' p' q' t?' ts' t?'].
[a:] English shh! [?:] Long. Often used with English vowels or diphthongs: Mayo /'me:o:/ for ['me], etc.
[a?] RP caught ['kt] Semi-long. (Although the vowel is different, this is also longer than cot ['kt].)
['a] pronunciation
Main stress. The mark denotes the stress of the following syllable.
[?a] Weaker stress. The mark denotes the stress of the following syllable.
[.] English courtship ['krt.p] Syllable break (this is often redundant and therefore left off)


Two types of brackets are commonly used to enclose transcriptions in the IPA:

  • /Slashes/ indicate sounds that are distinguished as the basic units of words in a language by native speakers; these are called phonemes. Changing the symbols between these slashes would either change the identity of the word or produce nonsense. For example, since there is no meaningful difference to a native speaker between the two sounds written with the letter L in the word lulls, they are considered the same phoneme, and so, using slashes, they are given the same symbol in IPA: /'l?lz/. Similarly, Spanish la bamba is transcribed phonemically with two instances of the same b sound, /la 'bamba/, despite the fact that they sound different to a speaker of English. Thus a reader who is not familiar with the language in question might not know how to interpret these transcriptions more narrowly.
  • [Square brackets] indicate the narrower or more detailed phonetic qualities of a pronunciation, not taking into account the norms of the language to which it belongs; therefore, such transcriptions do not regard whether subtly different sounds in the pronunciation are actually noticeable or distinguishable to a native speaker of the language. Within square brackets is what a foreigner who does not know the structure of a language might hear as discrete units of sound. For instance, the English word lulls may be pronounced in a particular dialect more specifically as ['lz], with different letter L sounds at the beginning and end. This may be obvious to speakers of languages that differentiate between the sounds [l] and [?]. Likewise, Spanish la bamba (pronounced without a pause) has two different b-sounds to the ears of foreigners or linguists--[la '?amba]--though a native Spanish speaker might not be able to hear it. Omitting or adding such detail does not make a difference to the identity of the word, but helps to give a more precise pronunciation.

A third kind of bracket is occasionally seen:

  • Either //double slashes// or |pipes| (or occasionally other conventions) show that the enclosed sounds are theoretical constructs that are not actually heard. (This is part of morphophonology.) For instance, most phonologists argue that the -s at the ends of verbs, which surfaces as either /s/ in talks /t?:ks/ or as /z/ in lulls /l?lz/, has a single underlying form. If they decide this form is an s, they would write it //s// (or |s|) to claim that phonemic /t?:ks/ and /l?lz/ are essentially //t?:ks// and //l?ls// underneath. If they were to decide it was essentially the latter, //z//, they would transcribe these words //t?:kz// and //l?lz//.


  • ?Angle brackets? are used to set off orthography, as well as transliteration from non-Latin scripts. Thus ?lulls?, ?la bamba?, the letter ?a?. Angle brackets are not supported by all fonts, so a template {{angle bracket}} (shortcut {{angbr}}) is used to ensure maximal compatibility. (Comment there if you're having problems.)

Rendering issues

IPA typeface support is increasing, and is now included in several typefaces such as the Times New Roman versions that come with various recent computer operating systems. Diacritics are not always properly rendered, however. IPA typefaces that are freely available online include Gentium, several from the SIL (such as Charis SIL, and Doulos SIL), Dehuti, DejaVu Sans, and TITUS Cyberbit, which are all freely available; as well as commercial typefaces such as Brill, available from Brill Publishers, and Lucida Sans Unicode and Arial Unicode MS, shipping with various Microsoft products. These all include several ranges of characters in addition to the IPA. Modern Web browsers generally do not need any configuration to display these symbols, provided that a typeface capable of doing so is available to the operating system.

Particularly, the following symbols may be shown improperly depending on your font:

Open-tail G

These two characters should look similar:

? Opentail g.svg

If in the box to the left you see the symbol ?MSReferenceSansSerif.png rather than a lower-case open-tail g, you may be experiencing a well-known bug in the font MS Reference Sans Serif; switching to another font may fix it.

On your current font: [?],

and in several other fonts:

Small capital OE ligature

On macOS, ???, which is in small caps and represents an open front rounded vowel, may appear the same as ?oe?, which is lowercase and represents a open-mid front rounded vowel:

Small capital inverted R

Apple's system font San Francisco has a bug that shows ???, an inverted small capital R, which represents a voiced uvular fricative, as a turned small capital R ???.

Tie bar

The tie bar is intended to cover both letters of an affricate or doubly articulated consonant. However, if your browser uses Arial Unicode MS to display IPA characters, the following incorrectly formed sequences (letter, letter, tie bar) may look better than the correct order (letter, tie bar, letter) due to a bug in that font:

ts?, t, t, dz?, d, d, t, kp?, ?b?, ?m?.

Here is how the proper configuration displays in your default IPA font:

t?s, d?z, t, d, t, d, t, k?p, b, m,

and in several other fonts:

Angle brackets

True angle brackets, ? ?, are unsupported by several common fonts. Here is how they display in your default settings:

?...? (unformatted)
?...? (default IPA font)
?...? (default Unicode font),

and in several specific fonts:

Computer input using on-screen keyboard

Online IPA keyboard utilities are available and they cover a range of IPA symbols and diacritics:

For iOS there are free IPA keyboard layouts, e.g. IPA Phonetic Keyboard.

See also

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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