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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 for 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 Wikipedia: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, German, and Spanish. For symbols not covered by those, recourse is taken to the populous languages Mandarin Chinese, Hindustani, Arabic, and Russian. For sounds still not covered, other smaller but well-known languages are used, such as Swahili, Turkish, and Zulu.

The left-hand column displays the symbols like this: ဤအသံ အကြောင်းopen front unrounded vowel . Click on the speaker icon to hear the sound; click on the symbol itself for a dedicated article with a more complete description and examples from multiple languages. All the sounds are spoken more than once, and the consonant sounds are spoken once followed by a vowel and once between vowels.


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
 Open front unrounded vowel  Mandarin 他 tā, 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.
 Open central unrounded vowel  American English ah, Spanish casa, French patte
 Open front unrounded vowel  German Aachen, French gare Long [a].
 Near-open central vowel  RP cut, German Kaiserslautern (In transcriptions of English, [ɐ] is usually written ⟨ʌ⟩.)
 Open back unrounded vowel  Finnish Linna, Dutch bad
 Open back unrounded vowel  RP father, French pâte Long [ɑ].
 Nasal vowel  French Caen, sans, temps Nasalized [ɑ].
 Open back rounded vowel  RP cot Like [ɑ], but with the lips slightly rounded.
 Open-mid back unrounded vowel  American English cut Like [ɔ], but without the lips being rounded. (When ⟨ʌ⟩ is used for English, it may really be [ɐ] or [ɜ].)
 Near-open front unrounded vowel  RP cat
 Voiced bilabial plosive  English babble
 Voiced bilabial implosive  Swahili bwana Like a [b] said with a gulp. See implosive consonants.
 Bilabial trill   Like the brrr sound made when cold.
 Voiced bilabial fricative  Spanish la Bamba, Kinyarwanda abana "children" Like [b], but with the lips not quite touching.
 Voiceless palatal plosive  Turkish kebap "kebab", Czech stín "shadow", Greek και "and" Between English tune (RP) and cute. Sometimes used instead for [tʃ] in languages like Hindi.
 Voiceless palatal fricative  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!".
 Voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative  Mandarin Xi'an, Polish ściana More y-like than [ʃ]; something like English she.
 Open-mid back rounded vowel  see under O
 Voiced alveolar plosive  English dad
 Voiced alveolar implosive  Swahili Dodoma Like [d] said with a gulp.
 Voiced retroflex plosive  American English harder Like [d] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
 Voiced dental fricative  English the, bathe
 Voiced alveolar affricate 1 English adds, Italian zero
 Voiced postalveolar affricate 1 English judge
တမ်းပလိတ်:Error-small1 English mojtear
 Voiced alveolo-palatal affricate 1 Polish niewiedź "bear" Like [dʒ], but with more of a y-sound.
 Voiced retroflex affricate 1 Polish em "jam" Like [dʒ] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
 Close-mid front unrounded vowel  Spanish fe; French clé
 Close-mid front unrounded vowel  German Klee Long [e]. Similar to English hey, before the y sets in.
 Mid central vowel  English above, Hindi ठग [ʈʰəɡ] (thug) "thief" (Only occurs in English when not stressed.)
 R-colored vowel#R-colored vowel  American English runner
 Open-mid front unrounded vowel  English bet
[ ɛ̃ ] French Agen, vin, main; Polish mięso Nasalized [ɛ].
 Open-mid central unrounded vowel  RP bird (long)
[ ɝ ] American English bird
 Voiceless labiodental fricative  English fun
 Voiced palatal plosive  see under J
 Voiced palatal implosive  see under J
 Voiced velar plosive  English gag (Should look like  . No different from a Latin "g")
 Voiced velar implosive  Swahili Uganda Like [ɡ] said with a gulp.
 Voiced uvular plosive  Like [ɡ], but further back, in the throat. Found in Persian and some Arabic dialects for /q/, as in Gaddafi.
 Voiced postalveolar fricative  see under Z English beige.
 Voiceless glottal fricative  American English house
 Voiced glottal fricative  English ahead, when said quickly.
[ ʰ ] The extra puff of air in English top [tʰɒp] compared to stop [stɒp], or to French or Spanish [t].
 Voiceless pharyngeal fricative  Arabic محمد Muhammad Far down in the throat, like [h], but stronger.
တမ်းပလိတ်:Error-small see under U
[ ɮ ] see under L
 Close front unrounded vowel  French ville, Spanish Valladolid
 Close front unrounded vowel  English sea Long [i].
 Near-close near-front unrounded vowel  English sit
 Close central unrounded vowel  Russian ты "you" Often used for unstressed English roses.
 Palatal approximant  English yes, hallelujah, German Junge
[ ʲ ] Russian Ленин [ˈlʲenʲɪn] Indicates a sound is more y-like.
 Voiced palatal fricative  Spanish cayo (some dialects) Like [j], but stronger.
 Voiced palatal plosive  Turkish gör "see", Czech díra "hole" Between English dew (RP) and argue. Sometimes used instead for [dʒ] in languages like Hindi.
 Voiced palatal implosive  Swahili jambo Like [ɟ] said with a gulp.
 Voiceless velar plosive  English kick, skip
 Alveolar lateral approximant  English leaf
 Velarized alveolar lateral approximant  English wool
Russian малый [ˈmɑɫɨj] "small"
"Dark" el.
 Voiceless alveolar lateral fricative  Welsh llwyd [ɬʊɪd] "grey"
Zulu hlala [ɬaːla] "sit"
By touching roof of mouth with tongue and giving a giving a quick breath out. Found in Welsh placenames like Llangollen and Llanelli and Nelson Mandela's Xhosa name Rolihlahla.
 Retroflex lateral approximant  Like [l] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
တမ်းပလိတ်:Error-small A flapped [l], like [l] and [ɾ] said together.
 Voiced alveolar lateral fricative  Zulu dla "eat" Rather like [l] and [ʒ], or [l] and [ð], said together.
 Bilabial nasal  English mime
 Labiodental nasal  English symphony Like [m], but lips touch teeth as they do in [f].
[ ɯ ] see under W
 Voiceless labio-velar approximant  see under W
 Alveolar nasal  English nun
 Velar nasal  English sing
 Palatal nasal  Spanish Peña, French champagne Rather like English canyon.
 Retroflex nasal  Hindi वरुण [ʋəruɳ] Varuna Like [n] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
 Uvular nasal  Castilian Spanish Don Juan [doɴˈχwan] Like [ŋ], but further back, in the throat.
 Close-mid back rounded vowel  Spanish no, French eau
 Close-mid back rounded vowel  German Boden, French Vosges Long [o]. Somewhat reminiscent of English no.
 Open-mid back rounded vowel  German Oldenburg, French Garonne
 Open-mid back rounded vowel  RP law, French Limoges Long [ɔ].
 Nasal vowel  French Lyon, son; Polish wąż Nasalized [ɔ].
 Close-mid front rounded vowel  French feu, bœufs Like [e], but with the lips rounded like [o].
 Close-mid front rounded vowel  German Goethe, French Dle, neutre Long [ø].
 Close-mid central rounded vowel  Swedish dum Halfway between [o] and [ø]. Similar to [ʊ] but with the tongue slightly more down and front.
 Open-mid front rounded vowel  French bœuf, seul, German Göttingen Like [ɛ], but with the lips rounded like [ɔ].
 Open-mid front rounded vowel  French œuvre, heure Long [œ].
 Nasal vowel  French brun, parfum Nasalized [œ].
 Voiceless dental fricative  see under other
 Voiceless bilabial fricative  see under other
 Voiceless bilabial plosive  English pip
 Voiceless uvular plosive  Arabic Qur’ān Like [k], but further back, in the throat.
 Alveolar trill  Spanish perro, Scots borrow "Rolled R". (Generally used for English [ɹ] when there's no need to be precise.)
 Alveolar tap  Spanish pero, Tagalog daliri, Malay kabar, American English kitty/kiddie "Flapped R".
 Uvular trill  A trill in the back of the throat. Found for /r/ in some conservative registers of French.
 Retroflex flap  Hindi साड़ी [sɑːɽiː] "sari" Like flapped [ɾ], but with the tongue curled back.
 Alveolar approximant  RP borrow
 Retroflex approximant  American English borrow, butter Like [ɹ], but with the tongue curled or pulled back, as pronounced by many English speakers.
 Voiced uvular fricative  French Paris, German Riemann Said back in the throat, but not trilled.
 Voiceless alveolar fricative  English sass
 Voiceless postalveolar fricative  English shoe
 Sj-sound  Swedish sju
 Voiceless retroflex fricative  Mandarin 少林 (Shàolín), Russian Пушкин (Pushkin) Acoustically similar to [ʃ], but with the tongue curled or pulled back.
 Voiceless alveolar plosive  English tot, stop
 Voiceless retroflex plosive  Hindi ठग [ʈʰəɡ] (thug) "thief" Like [t], but with the tongue curled or pulled back.
 Voiceless alveolar affricate 2 English cats, Russian царь tsar
 Voiceless postalveolar affricate  2 English church
 Voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate 2 Mandarin 北京  Beijing , Polish ciebie "you" Like [tʃ], but with more of a y-sound.
 Voiceless retroflex affricate 2 Mandarin zh, Polish czas Like [tʃ] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
 Close back rounded vowel  French vous "you"
 Close back rounded vowel  French Rocquencourt, German Schumacher, close to RP food Long [u].
 Near-close near-back vowel  English foot, German Bundesrepublik
 Close central rounded vowel  Australian English food (long) Like [ɨ], but with the lips rounded as for [u].
တမ်းပလိတ်:Error-small French lui Like [j] and [w] said together.
 Close back unrounded vowel  see under W
 Voiced labiodental fricative  English verve
 Labiodental approximant  Hindi वरुण [ʋəruɳə] "Varuna" Between [v] and [w]. Used by some Germans and Russians for v/w, and by some speakers of British English for r.
 Voiced velar fricative  Arabic / Swahili ghali "expensive", Spanish suegro Sounds rather like French [ʁ] or between [ɡ] and [h].
 Close-mid back unrounded vowel  Mandarin Hénán Like [o] but without the lips rounded, something like a cross of [ʊ] and [ʌ].
[ ʌ ] see under A
 Voiced labial-velar approximant  English wow
[ ʷ ] English rain [ɹʷeɪn] Indicates a sound has lip rounding, quick.
 Voiceless labio-velar approximant  what (some dialects) like [h] and [w] said together
 Close back unrounded vowel  Turkish kayık "caïque" Like [u], but with the lips flat; something like [ʊ].
 Velar approximant  Spanish agua
 Voiceless velar fricative  Scottish English loch, German Bach, Russian хороший [xɐˈroʂɨj] "good", Spanish joven between [k] and [h]
 Voiceless uvular fricative  northern Standard Dutch Scheveningen, Castilian Spanish Don Juan [doɴˈχwan] Like [x], but further back , in the throat. Some German and Arabic speakers have [χ] for [x].
 Close front rounded vowel  French rue Like [i], but with the lips rounded as for [u].
 Close front rounded vowel  German Bülow, French sûr Long [y].
 Near-close near-front rounded vowel  German Eisenhüttenstadt Like [ɪ], but with the lips rounded as for [ʊ].
 Palatal lateral approximant  Italian tagliatelle Like [l], but more y-like. Rather like English volume.
တမ်းပလိတ်:Error-small see under U
 Close-mid back unrounded vowel  see under V
[ ɣ ] see under V
 Voiced alveolar fricative  English zoos
 Voiced postalveolar fricative  English vision, French journal
 Voiced alveolo-palatal fricative  formal Russian жжёшь [ʑːoʂ] "you burn", Polish źle More y-like than [ʒ], something like beigey.
 Voiced retroflex fricative  Mandarin 人民日报 Rénmín Rìbào "People's Daily", Russian жир "fat" Like [ʒ] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
[ ɮ ] see under L
 Voiceless dental fricative  English thigh, bath
 Voiceless bilabial fricative  Japanese 富士 [ɸɯdʑi] Fuji, Māori [ˌɸaːɾeːˈnuiː] wharenui Like [p], but with the lips not quite touching
 Glottal stop  English uh-oh, Hawaii, German die Angst The 'glottal stop', a catch in the breath. For some people, found in button [ˈbʌʔn̩], or between vowels across words: Deus ex machina [ˌdeɪəsˌʔɛksˈmɑːkɨnə]; in some nonstandard dialects, in a apple [ʌˈʔæpl̩].
တမ်းပလိတ်:Error-small Arabic عربي carabī "Arabic" A light sound deep in the throat.
 Dental click  English tsk-tsk! or tut-tut!, Zulu icici "earring" (The English click used for disapproval.) Several distinct sounds, written as digraphs, including [ kǀ ], [ ɡǀ ], [ ŋǀ ]. The Zimbabwean MP Ncube has this click in his name, as did Cetshwayo.
 Alveolar lateral click  English tchick! tchick!, Zulu ixoxo "frog" (The English click used to urge on a horse.) Several distinct sounds, written as digraphs, including [ kǁ ], [ ɡǁ ], [ ŋǁ ]. Found in the name of the Xhosa.
 Postalveolar click  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 [ kǃ ], [ ɡǃ ], [ ŋǃ ].
  • ^1 ^2 These symbols are officially written with a tie linking them (e.g. t͡ʃ), and are also sometimes written as single characters (e.g. ʧ) though the latter convention is no longer official. They are written without ligatures here to ensure correct display in all browsers.

All diacritics are here shown on a carrier letter such as the vowel a.

Symbol Example Description
[ ˈa ] pronunciation
Main stress. The mark denotes the stress of the following syllable.
[ ˌa ] Weaker stress. The mark denotes the stress of the following syllable.
[ aː ] English shh! [ʃː] Long. Often used with English vowels or diphthongs: Mayo /ˈmeːoː/ for [ˈmeɪ̯ɜʊ̯], etc.
[ aˑ ] RP caught [ˈkʰɔˑt] Semi-long. (Although the vowel is different, this is also longer than cot [ˈkʰɒt].)
[ a̯ ] English cow [kʰaʊ̯], koi [kʰɔɪ̯] 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: [kaʊ].)
[ ã ] French vin blanc [vãblɑ̃] "white wine" A nasal vowel, as with a Texas twang.
[ n̥ ] Sounds like a loud whisper; [n̥] is like a whispered breath through the nose. [l̥] is found in Tibetan Lhasa.
[ n̩ ] English button A consonant without a vowel. (English [n̩] is often transcribed /ən/.)
[ d̪ ] Spanish dos, French deux The tongue touches the teeth more than it does in English.
[ kʰ ] English come Aspirated consonant, pronounced with a puff of air. Similarly [tʰ pʰ tsʰ tʃʰ tɕʰ].
[ k’ ] Zulu ukuza "come" Like a popped [k], pushed from the throat. Similarly [tʼ pʼ qʼ tʃʼ tsʼ tɬʼ].
[ á ] Mandarin [mámā] "mother" High tone (Pinyin: mā) Careful!
The Pinyin Romanization used for Mandarin has these same diacritics, but with different values.
However, Thai Romanization uses them the way the IPA does.
[ ā ] Mandarin 妈 [mámā] "mother" Mid tone (Pinyin: ma).
[ à ] Mandarin [màdɤ] "horse's" Low tone (Pinyin: mǎ).
[ â ] Mandarin 骂 [mâ] "scold" Falling tone (Pinyin: mà).
[ ǎ ] Mandarin 麻 [mǎ] "hemp" Rising tone (Pinyin: má).
[ . ] English courtship [ˈkɔrt.ʃɪp] 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 those meaningful sounds that are distinguished as the basic sounds of a language by native speakers; these are called phonemes. Changing the symbols between 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 el in the word lulls, they are considered the same phoneme and so, using slashes, they are given the same symbol in IPA: /ˈlʌlz/. Similarly, Spanish la bomba is transcribed phonemically with two instances of the same b sound, /laˈbomba/, 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 [ˈlɐɫz], with different letter el sounds at the beginning and end. This may be obvious to speakers of other languages that differentiate between the sounds [l] and [ɫ]. Likewise, Spanish la bomba (pronounced without a pause) has two different b-sounds to the ears of foreigners or linguists—[laˈβomba]—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 /tɔːks/ or as /z/ in lulls /lʌlz/, has a single underlying form. If they decide this form is an s, they would write it //s// (or |s|) to claim that phonemic /tɔːks/ and /lʌlz/ are essentially //tɔːks// and //lʌls// underneath. If they were to decide it was essentially the latter, //z//, they would transcribe these words //tɔːkz// and //lʌlz//.


  • ⟨Angle brackets⟩ are used to set off orthography, as well as transliteration from non-Latin scripts. Thus ⟨lulls⟩, ⟨la bomba⟩, 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.)

These two characters should look similar:


If in the box to the left you see the symbol   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: [ɡ],

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:

ts͡, tʃ͡, tɕ͡, dz͡, dʒ͡, dʑ͡, tɬ͡, kp͡, ɡb͡, ŋm͡.

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

t͡s, d͡z, t͡ʃ, d͡ʒ, t͡ɕ, d͡ʑ, t͡ɬ, k͡p, ɡ͡b, ŋ͡m,

and in several other fonts: တမ်းပလိတ်:MFSample

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:


တမ်းပလိတ်:IPA keys horizontal