The latest official IPA chart, revised to 2018.

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. 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 symbols like this: [a]. 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
[a] German Mann For many English speakers, the first part of the ow sound in cow. Found in some dialects of English in cat or father.
[a:] German Aachen, French gare Long [a].
[ä] Mandarin ? t?, American English ah, Spanish casa, French patte
[?] RP cut, German Kaiserslautern (In transcriptions of English, [?] is usually written ⟨?⟩.)
[?] Finnish Linna, Dutch bad
[?:] RP father, French pâte Long [?].
[] 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 [?].)
[æ] RP cat
[b] English babble
[?] Swahili bwana Like a [b] said with a gulp. See implosive consonants.
[?] Spanish la Bamba, Kinyarwanda abana "children" Like [b], but with the lips not quite touching.
[?] Nias simbi [si?i] "lower jaw" Sputtering.
[c] Turkish kebap "kebab", Czech stín "shadow", Romanian camer? "room"Greek ? "and" Between English tune (RP) and cute. Sometimes used instead for [t?] in languages like Hindi.
[ç] 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
[d] English dad
[?] Swahili Dodoma Like [d] said with a gulp.
[?] American English harder Like [d] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
[ð] English the, bathe
[dz] English adds, Italian zero
[d?] English judge
[d?] Polish nied?wied? "bear" Like [d?], but with more of a y-sound.
[d?] Polish d?em "jam" Like [d?] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
[e] Spanish fe; French clé
[e:] German Klee Long [e]. 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
[f] 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.
[h] 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
[i] French ville, Spanish Valladolid
[i:] English sea Long [i].
[?] English sit
[?] Russian "you" Often used for unstressed English roses.
[j] English yes, hallelujah, German Junge
[?] 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.
[k] English kick, skip
[l] 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.
[m] English mime
[?] English symphony Like [m], but lips touch teeth as they do in [f].
[?] see under W
[?] see under W
[n] 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.
[o] Spanish no, French eau
[o:] German Boden, French Vosges Long [o]. Somewhat reminiscent of English no.
[?] German Oldenburg, French Garonne
[?:] RP law, French Limoges Long [?].
[] French Lyon, son Nasalized [?].
[ø] French feu, boeufs Like [e], but with the lips rounded like [o].
[ø:] German Goethe, French Dle, neutre Long [ø].
[?] 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 ⟨?⟩.
[oe] French boeuf, seul, German Göttingen Like [?], but with the lips rounded like [?].
[oe:] French oeuvre, heure Long [oe].
[oe?] French brun, parfum Nasalized [oe].
[?] see under Others
[?] see under Others
[p] English pip
[q] Arabic ‏Qur'?n Like [k], but further back, in the throat.
[r] 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.
[?] Hindi [s?:?i:] "sari" Like flapped [?], but with the tongue curled back.
[?] RP borrow
[?] 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 Said back in the throat, but not trilled.
[s] English sass
[?] English shoe
[?] Mandarin (Shàolín), Russian ? (Pushkin) Acoustically similar to [?], but with the tongue curled or pulled back.
[t] English tot, stop
[?] Hindi [?] (thug) "thief" Like [t], but with the tongue curled or pulled back.
[ts] English cats, Russian ? tsar
[t?] English church
[t?] Mandarin About this soundB?ij?ng, Polish ciebie "you" Like [t?], but with more of a y-sound.
[t?] Mandarin zh?nzhèng, Polish czas Like [t?] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
[u] French vous "you"
[u:] French Rocquencourt, German Schumacher, American English food Long [u].
[?] English foot, German Bundesrepublik
[?] Australian English food (long) Like [?], but with the lips rounded as for [u].
[?] see under Y
[?] see under W
[v] 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
[w] 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
[x] Scottish English loch, German Bach, Russian ? [x?'roj] "good", 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].
[y] French rue Like [i], but with the lips rounded as for [u].
[y:] German Bülow, French sûr Long [y].
[?] 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 Like [l], but more y-like. Rather like English volume.
[?] French lui Like [j] and [w] said together.
[z] 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 sound deep in 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 [?àà?ámã?ã?] "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.
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?] 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" 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 ['k?rt.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:

Voiced velar plosive

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:

Affricates and double articulation

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 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:

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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