From HandWiki


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 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, 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] (About this soundlisten). 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] (About this soundlisten) 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.
[ä] (About this soundlisten) Mandarin 他 tā, American English father, Spanish casa, French patte
[ɐ] (About this soundlisten) RP cut, German Kaiserslautern (In transcriptions of English, [ɐ] is usually written ⟨ʌ⟩.)
[ɑ] (About this soundlisten) RP father, French pâte, Dutch bad
[ɑ̃] (About this soundlisten) French Caen, sans, temps Nasalized [ɑ].
[ɒ] (About this soundlisten) RP cot Like [ɑ], but with the lips slightly rounded.
[ʌ] (About this soundlisten) American English cut Like [ɔ], but without the lips being rounded. (When ⟨ʌ⟩ is used for English, it may really be [ɐ] or [ɜ].)
[æ] (About this soundlisten) RP cat
[b] (About this soundlisten) English babble
[ɓ] (About this soundlisten) Swahili bwana Like a [b] said with a gulp. See implosive consonants.
[β] (About this soundlisten) Spanish la Bamba, Kinyarwanda abana "children", Korean 무궁화 [muɡuŋβwa̠] mugunghwa Like [b], but with the lips not quite closed.
[ʙ] (About this soundlisten) Nias simbi [siʙi] "lower jaw" Sputtering.
[c] (About this soundlisten) Turkish kebap "kebab", Czech stín "shadow", Greek και "and" Between English tune (RP) and cute. Sometimes used instead for [tʃ] in languages like Hindi.
[ç] (About this soundlisten) 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!".
[ɕ] (About this soundlisten) Mandarin 西安 Xi'an, Polish ściana More y-like than [ʃ]; something like English she.
[ɔ] (About this soundlisten) see under O
[d] (About this soundlisten) English dad
[ɗ] (About this soundlisten) Swahili Dodoma Like [d] said with a gulp.
[ɖ] (About this soundlisten) American English harder Like [d] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
[ð] (About this soundlisten) English the, bathe
[dz] (About this soundlisten) English adds, Italian zero
[] (About this soundlisten) English judge
[] (About this soundlisten) Polish niewiedź "bear" Like [dʒ], but with more of a y-sound.
[] (About this soundlisten) Polish em "jam" Like [dʒ] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
[e] (About this soundlisten) Spanish fe; French clé, German Klee Similar to English hey, before the y sets in.
[ɘ] (About this soundlisten) Australian English bird
[ə] (About this soundlisten) English above, Hindi ठग [ʈʰəɡ] (thug) "thief" (Only occurs in English when not stressed.)
[ɚ] (About this soundlisten) American English runner
[ɛ] (About this soundlisten) English bet
[ɛ̃] (About this soundlisten) French Saint-Étienne, vin, main Nasalized [ɛ].
[ɜ] (About this soundlisten) RP bird (long)
[ɝ] (About this soundlisten) American English bird
[f] (About this soundlisten) English fun
[ɟ] (About this soundlisten) see under J
[ʄ] (About this soundlisten) see under J
[ɡ] (About this soundlisten) English gag (Should look like Opentail g.svg. No different from a Latin "g")
[ɠ] (About this soundlisten) Swahili Uganda Like [ɡ] said with a gulp.
[ɢ] (About this soundlisten) Like [ɡ], but further back, in the throat. Found in Persian and some Arabic dialects for /q/, as in Muammar Gaddafi.
[ʒ] (About this soundlisten) see under Z English beige.
[h] (About this soundlisten) American English house
[ɦ] (About this soundlisten) 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].
[ħ] (About this soundlisten) Arabic ‏مُحَمَّدMuhammad Far down in the throat, like [h], but stronger.
[ɥ] (Audio file "Labial-palatal approximant.ogg" not found) see under Y
[ɮ] (About this soundlisten) see under L
[i] (About this soundlisten) English sea, French ville, Spanish Valladolid
[ɪ] (About this soundlisten) English sit
[ɨ] (About this soundlisten) Russian ты "you" Often used for unstressed English roses.
[j] (About this soundlisten) English yes, hallelujah, German Junge
[ʲ] In Russian Ленин [ˈlʲenʲɪn] Indicates a sound is more y-like.
[ʝ] (About this soundlisten) Spanish cayo (some dialects) Like [j], but stronger.
[ɟ] (About this soundlisten) Turkish gör "see", Czech díra "hole" Between English dew (RP) and argue. Sometimes used instead for [dʒ] in languages like Hindi.
[ʄ] (About this soundlisten) Swahili jambo Like [ɟ] said with a gulp.
[k] (About this soundlisten) English kick, skip
[l] (About this soundlisten) English leaf
[ɫ] (About this soundlisten) English wool
Russian малый [ˈmɑɫɨj] "small"
"Dark" el.
[ɬ] (About this soundlisten) Welsh llwyd [ɬʊɪd] "grey"
Zulu hlala [ɬaːla] "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.
[ɭ] (About this soundlisten) Like [l] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
[ɺ] (Audio file "Alveolar lateral flap.ogg" not found) A flapped [l], like [l] and [ɾ] said together.
[ɮ] (About this soundlisten) Zulu dla "eat" Rather like [l] and [ʒ], or [l] and [ð], said together.
[m] (About this soundlisten) English mime
[ɱ] (About this soundlisten) English symphony Like [m], but lips touch teeth as they do in [f].
[ɯ] (About this soundlisten) see under W
[ʍ] (About this soundlisten) see under W
[n] (About this soundlisten) English nun
[ŋ] (About this soundlisten) English sing, Māori nga
[ɲ] (About this soundlisten) Spanish Peña, French champagne Rather like English canyon (/nj/ said quickly).
[ɳ] (About this soundlisten) Hindi वरुण [ʋəruɳ] Varuna Like [n] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
[ɴ] (About this soundlisten) Castilian Spanish Don Juan [doɴˈχwan] Like [ŋ], but further back, in the throat.
[o] (About this soundlisten) Spanish no, French eau, German Boden Somewhat reminiscent of American English no.
[ɔ] (About this soundlisten) German Oldenburg, French Garonne
[ɔ̃] (About this soundlisten) French Lyon, son Nasalized [ɔ].
[ø] (About this soundlisten) French feu, bœufs, German Goethe Like [e], but with the lips rounded like [o].
[ɵ] (About this soundlisten) Dutch hut, French je, Swedish dum Halfway between [o] and [ø]. Similar to [ʊ] but with the tongue slightly more down and front. The Dutch vowel is often transcribed with ⟨ʏ⟩ or ⟨œ⟩, whereas the French vowel is typically transcribed with ⟨ə⟩.
[œ] (About this soundlisten) French bœuf, seul, German Göttingen Like [ɛ], but with the lips rounded like [ɔ].
[œ̃] (About this soundlisten) French brun, parfum Nasalized [œ].
[ɶ] (About this soundlisten)
[θ] (About this soundlisten) see under Others
[ɸ] (About this soundlisten) see under Others
[p] (About this soundlisten) English pip
[q] (About this soundlisten) Arabic ‏قُرْآنQur’ān Like [k], but further back, in the throat.
[r] (About this soundlisten) Spanish perro, Scots borrow "Rolled R". (Often used for other rhotics, such as English [ɹ], when there's no ambiguity.)
[ɾ] (About this soundlisten) Spanish pero, Tagalog daliri, Malay kabar, American English kitty/kiddie "Flapped R".
[ʀ] (About this soundlisten) Dutch rood and German rot (some speakers) A trill in the back of the throat. Found for /r/ in some conservative registers of French.
[ɽ] (About this soundlisten) Hindi साड़ी [sɑːɽiː] "sari" Like flapped [ɾ], but with the tongue curled back.
[ɹ] (About this soundlisten) RP borrow
[ɻ] (About this soundlisten) Mandarin 人民日报 Rénmín Rìbào "People's Daily", American English borrow, butter Like [ɹ], but with the tongue curled or pulled back, as pronounced by many English speakers.
[ʁ] (About this soundlisten) French Paris, German Riemann (some dialects) Said back in the throat, but not trilled.
[s] (About this soundlisten) English sass
[ʃ] (About this soundlisten) English shoe
[ʂ] (About this soundlisten) Mandarin 少林 (Shàolín), Russian Пушкин (Pushkin) Acoustically similar to [ʃ], but with the tongue curled or pulled back.
[t] (About this soundlisten) English tot, stop
[ʈ] (About this soundlisten) Hindi ठग [ʈʰəɡ] (thug) "thief" Like [t], but with the tongue curled or pulled back.
[ts] (About this soundlisten) English cats, Russian царь tsar
[] (About this soundlisten) English church
[] (About this soundlisten) Mandarin 北京 Běijīng (About this soundlisten), Polish ciebie "you" Like [tʃ], but with more of a y-sound.
[] (About this soundlisten) Mandarin 真正 zhēnzhèng, Polish czas Like [tʃ] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
[u] (About this soundlisten) American English food, French vous "you", German Schumacher
[ʊ] (About this soundlisten) English foot, German Bundesrepublik
[ʉ] (About this soundlisten) Australian English food (long) Like [ɨ], but with the lips rounded as for [u].
[ɥ] (Audio file "Labial-palatal approximant.ogg" not found) see under Y
[ɯ] (Audio file "Close back unrounded vowel.ogg" not found) see under W
[v] (Audio file "Voiced labiodental fricative.ogg" not found) English verve
[ʋ] (Audio file "Labiodental approximant.ogg" not found) 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.
[ɤ] (Audio file "Close-mid back unrounded vowel.ogg" not found) see under Y
[ɣ] (Audio file "Voiced velar fricative.ogg" not found) see under Y
[ʌ] (Audio file "PR-open-mid back unrounded vowel2.ogg" not found) see under A
[w] (Audio file "Voiced labio-velar approximant.ogg" not found) English wow
[ʷ] Indicates a sound has lip rounding, as in English rain
[ʍ] (Audio file "Voiceless labio-velar fricative.ogg" not found) what (some dialects) like [h] and [w] said together
[ɯ] (Audio file "Close back unrounded vowel.ogg" not found) Turkish kayık "caïque", Scottish Gaelic gaol Like [u], but with the lips flat; something like [ʊ].
[ɰ] (Audio file "Voiced velar approximant.ogg" not found) Spanish agua Like [w], but with the lips flat.
[x] (Audio file "Voiceless velar fricative.ogg" not found) Scottish English loch, German Bach, Russian хороший [xɐˈroʂɨj] "good", Spanish joven between [k] and [h]
[χ] (Audio file "Voiceless uvular fricative.ogg" not found) 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].
[y] (Audio file "Close front rounded vowel.ogg" not found) French rue, German Bülow Like [i], but with the lips rounded as for [u].
[ʏ] (Audio file "Near-close near-front rounded vowel.ogg" not found) German Düsseldorf Like [ɪ], but with the lips rounded as for [ʊ].
[ɣ] (Audio file "Voiced velar fricative.ogg" not found) Arabic ‏غَالِيghālī and Swahili ghali "expensive", Spanish suegro Sounds rather like French [ʁ] or between [ɡ] and [h].
[ɤ] (Audio file "Close-mid back unrounded vowel.ogg" not found) Mandarin 河南 Hénán, Scottish Gaelic taigh Like [o] but without the lips rounded, something like a cross of [ʊ] and [ʌ].
[ʎ] (Audio file "Palatal lateral approximant.ogg" not found) Italian tagliatelle Like [l], but more y-like. Rather like English volume.
[ɥ] (Audio file "Labial-palatal approximant.ogg" not found) French lui Like [j] and [w] said together.
[z] (Audio file "Voiced alveolar sibilant.ogg" not found) English zoo
[ʒ] (Audio file "Voiced palato-alveolar sibilant.ogg" not found) English vision, French journal
[ʑ] (Audio file "Voiced alveolo-palatal sibilant.ogg" not found) old-styled Russian позже [ˈpoʑːe] "later", Polish źle More y-like than [ʒ], something like beigey.
[ʐ] (Audio file "Voiced retroflex sibilant.ogg" not found) Russian жир "fat" Like [ʒ] with the tongue curled or pulled back.
[ɮ] (Audio file "Voiced alveolar lateral fricative.ogg" not found) see under L
[θ] (Audio file "Voiceless dental fricative.ogg" not found) English thigh, bath
[ɸ] (Audio file "Voiceless bilabial fricative.ogg" not found) Japanese 富士 [ɸɯdʑi] Fuji, Māori [ˌɸaːɾeːˈnuiː] wharenui Like [p], but with the lips not quite touching
[ʔ] (Audio file "Glottal stop.ogg" not found) 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 [ˌdeɪəsˌʔɛksˈmɑːkɪnə]; in some nonstandard dialects, in a apple [əˈʔæpl̩].
[ʕ] (Audio file "Voiced pharyngeal fricative.ogg" not found) Arabic ‏عَرَبِيّʻarabī "Arabic" A light sound deep in the throat.
[ǀ] (Audio file "Dental click.ogg" not found) 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.
[ǁ] (Audio file "Alveolar lateral click.ogg" not found) 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.
[ǃ] (Audio file "Postalveolar click.ogg" not found) 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].
[ʘ] (Audio file "Clic bilabial sourd.ogg" not found) ǂ’Amkoe ʘoa "two" Like a kissing sound.
[ǂ] (Audio file "Palatoalveolar click.ogg" not found) Khoekhoe ǂgā-amǃnâ [ǂààʔám̀ᵑǃã̀ã̀] "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 [vɛ̃ blɑ̃] "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
[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].)
[n̥] English boy [b̥ɔɪ̯], doe [d̥oʊ̯]

(see also)

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.
Signs next to a letter
[kʰ] English come Aspirated consonant, pronounced with a puff of air. Similarly [tʰ pʰ tsʰ tʃʰ tɕʰ].
[k’] Zulu ukuza "come" Ejective. Like a popped [k], pushed from the throat. Similarly [tʼ pʼ qʼ tʃʼ tsʼ tɬʼ].
[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].)
[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.
[.] 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 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: /ˈlʌlz/. Similarly, Spanish la bamba is transcribed phonemically with two instances of the same b sound, /la ˈbamba/, 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 L sounds at the beginning and end. This may be obvious to speakers of languages that differentiate between the sounds [l] and [ɫ]. Likewise, Spanish la bamba (pronounced without a pause) has two different b-sounds to the ears of foreigners or linguists—[la ˈβamba]—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 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:

ɡ Opentail g.svg

If in the box to the left you see the symbol ꞬMSReferenceSansSerif.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: [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: Template:MFSample

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