How to read sounds correctly in English


First, to read sounds in English, you need to know how they are spelled. We can help you find out more about conversational English courses, but for now, we will return to the article and try to figure it out, but they are written in square brackets - this is called phonetic transcription. There are vowels and consonants in English. Vowels are pronounced with an open mouth and consonants with a closed mouth.

Pronunciation table of English sounds

In some words, the number of letters and sounds may vary. For example, in the word help - 4 letters and 4 sounds - help - /help/, six /sɪks/ - three letters, but four sounds.

Each letter has its own sound, but the concepts are like the English two articles - These are two characters that represent a sound: gh [g] - Ghost [gəʋst] (ghost), ph [f] - Photos [ ' foutou] (photo), sh [ʃ] - shine [ʃaɪn] (shine), th [ð] or [θ] - think [θɪŋk] (to think), ch [tʃ] - chess [tʃes] (chess) and diphthongs - vowel sounds pass from one to another: ea - bread [bread] (bread), i.e., - friend [fr] (friend), ai - re [əˈɡen] (again), au - autumn [ˈɔːtəm ] (autumn).

It is worth noting that digraphs and diphthongs are read differently depending on which part of the word is in.

For example, gh is not pronounced in the middle of a word: light [laıt] (light), and sometimes it sounds like "f" at the end: enough [ı'nʌf] (enough); oo can be pronounced as long [ʋ:], "u" : moon [mʋ: n] (moon), short [ʋ]: good [gʋd] (good), like a short [ʌ ], similar : blood [blood] (blood), but with" r "it is quite different, as in [ʋə]: poor [pʋə] (poor).

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It is also interesting that in English, there are words that have the same pronunciation, but the spelling is completely different:

know - do not (know - not),

leave - live (leave - live),

feel - fill (feel - fill ), e.t.c.

Here's another reason to learn how to pronounce English letters and sounds correctly!

Syllabus in English

Let's define what a syllable is. A syllable is the minimum spoken unit of speech, consisting of a single sound (in combination with a vowel or consonant sound) that can be pronounced, said in a breath. Given that vowels are read differently depending on the type of syllable consider what the same syllables mean. In English, the syllables are:

1. Opening: The end of a syllable is a vowel sound: go, toy, my.

2. Conditional open: The end of a syllable is a dumb "e" followed by a consonant: take, smoke, lime.

3. Closed: The end of a syllable is a consonant sound: get, sun, red.

How to highlight the syllables of a word in English? First, it should be remembered: how many vowels are in a word - how many syllables.

Basic rules for dividing words into syllables:

1. If there is a consonant letter on the border of the letters, it moves to the right: student (student)

2. If a word has only one consonant, but has sonorant (nasal) sounds [m], [n], [l], [w], [r], [j], there may be several syllables: mi- ld (soft), fi-nd (find).

3. If there are more than two consonants on the border of the syllables, then one of them closes the syllable, and the other opens the next: e.g., little - /ˈlɪt·l/.

Advanced Transcription and reading rules in English

Transcription may not be attractive to everyone, but it is undoubtedly worthwhile. Knowing the transcription, you will be able to read the unfamiliar word correctly without help. In class, you can read transcriptions of a word yourself (for example, from a blackboard) without asking others, making the process of assimilating textual material more manageable.

First, there will be errors in the correct reading. There are always some subtleties in pronunciation. But it's just a matter of practice. After a while, if necessary, you can write the words yourself.

Transcription is directly related to the rules of reading. In English, everything that is seen (letter combinations) is not read as they appear.

When textbooks tell about the rules of reading, much attention is paid to the type of syllable. About five of these types are usually described. But such a detailed theoretical presentation of the rules of reading does not greatly facilitate the fate of a novice and can even mislead him. It should be remembered that a good knowledge of reading rules is an excellent virtue of practice, not only theory.

Your attention will be presented to the basic rules for reading individual letters and letter combinations. "Behind the Scene" will remain some phonetic moments that are difficult to convey in writing.

It's easy to learn both transcription and reading rules in no time. Then you'll be surprised: "How easy reading and writing has become!"

However, do not forget that, despite its wide distribution, the English language does not cease to be a language full of exceptions, stylistic and other delights. And at any stage of language learning, especially in the early stages, look up the dictionary frequently.


A compound vowel is a complex sound consisting of two sounds. In most cases, a diphthong can be "split" into two sounds, but not in writing.

Since in many cases, a component sound of a diphthong, if used separately, will have a different designation. For example, the diphthong [au] has no transcriptional sign like [a] separately.

Therefore, most diphthongs are not indicated by a set of different transcription symbols but by their sign.

In many school textbooks dictionaries, this sound is designated as [ou], which is more descriptive. But, in modern English dictionaries, this sound is usually shown in the table.

This sign often refers to unstressed vowel sounds in transcription, regardless of whatever syllable (combination) this sound gives.

There are many types of syllables in English words. However, to understand the whole system, it is necessary to remember and differentiate between the following two types: open and closed.

The open syllable ends in a vowel: game, stone - a vowel in a word is read the same way as in the alphabet.

Closed syllables end in a consonant: pen, cat, bus - a vowel in a syllable gives a different sound. Transcription and stress in words are indicated by a vertical bar before the stressed syllable.

Single vowel sounds Rule

[I] Usually gives the letter E in a closed syllable: get [get], vet [vet] as well as a combination of letters EA: dead [deed], joy [´ple3ə] Note: the same combination of letters is often gives sound [ i:] (see below)

[I] Usually I give letters in a closed syllable: hit [hit], mar [kill] and also the letter y in a closed syllable: jim [d3im], cylind [´silində] Note: in an open syllable these letters sound [AI] (see. below)

[I:] Occurs in the following letter combinations: e + e (always): meet [mi: t], deep [di: p]; letter e in an open syllable: tree [tri:], steve [sti: v]; In the letter combinations e + a: meat [mi: t], beam [bi: m] Note: the same letter combination (ea) often gives the sound [e] (see above)

[O] Usually gives the letter O in a closed syllable: pot [pot], lottery [´lotəri], as well as the letter a after w in a closed syllable: wasp [wosp], goose [goose]

[O:] Occurs in the following letter combinations:

o + r: corn [ko: n], fort [´fo: trəs]; more [mo:]

Almost always in a + u: jivas ['fo: nə], warp [to nt]; Exceptions are only a few words, for example, Aunt

Consonants (except w) + a + w: dawn [do: n], hawk [ho: k].

always in letter combination a + ll: long [to: l], short [smo: l]

The letter combination a + ld (lk) also gives this sound: bald [bo:ld], talk [to:k]

Not often, but you can find a combination of the letters ou + r, which gives this sound: pour [po:], mourn [mo: n].

[æ] usually gives the letter in a closed syllable: flag [flæg], married [´mærid]

[Λ] Usually gives you the letter in a closed syllable: dust [dΛst], sunday [´sΛndei]. Also: ouble: double [dΛbl], trouble [trΛbl] ove: glove [glΛv], dove [dΛv] Note: but there are exceptions also: move [mu: v] - (see below); flood [flΛd], blood [blΛd] - (see above)

[a:] Occurs in the following letter combinations:

a + r: dark [da: k], field [fa: m] (see note)

Regular letter a in a closed syllable: last [la: st], fa [fa: ] - therefore it is necessary to check with the dictionary, since a closed syllable traditionally gives the sound [æ] as in cat [kæt] ;

The consonant + beg also gives this sound stably: palm [pa: m], quiet [ka: m] + note

Notes: 1. Very rarely does a + r sound [o:] warm [wo: m]; 3. Rarely: Salmon [smən]

In most cases, the length of this sound varies for historical reasons rather than spelling. That is, for each word, it is determined individually. Therefore, this difference in longitude doesn't carry as much significant weight as other sounds. And in oral speech, it does not need to be particularly emphasized. For example, this sound occurs in the following cases:

always o + o: foot [foot], boot [bu: t], taken [tuk], moon [mu: n]


The article provided only basic rules for reading letters and sounds in English. However, the phonetics of the English language is a broad and exciting subject of study. Want to know more? Sign up for an English course. To get started, take advantage of our free trial lessons, which can be enrolled simply by filling out the form.