The suprasegmental symbols are called that because they apply to more than one segment (vowel or consonant). In English, the relevant suprasegmentals are the markings for primary and secondary stress.

  • Primary stress: ‘
  • Secondary stress: ,


Pronouncing English Consonants

Consonant Sounds are produced by completely or partially stopping the breath. Consonant Sounds can be voiceless (VL, no vibration of the vocal cords) or voiced (VD, vibration of the vocal cords) and often come in sound pairs.

The symbols used for consonants are shown in the following table. Where symbols appear in pairs, the one to the left is voiceless, the one to the right voiced.

Pronouncing English Vowels

Due to the complexity and richness of the vowel system of English language and its many variations it is very difficult to come across a clear pronunciation system. To study the vowel phonemes or diphthongs is an elemental task all English language students have to take seriously, since vowels are the most important part of a syllable.

This section discusses the symbols used for the vowel phonemes in three major English accents: Received Pronunciation, General American, and General Australian.

Pronouncing English Sounds

It is frequent for most people, as they learn a language, to assume that to rely on their own accents as they speak a different language will do. Unfortunately this is far from reality and as a matter of fact, not focusing in the correct accent and pronunciation can lead to misunderstandings or simply poor communication.

When it comes to writing, English language uses 26 different letter from the Alphabet, however, when it comes to speaking there are over 44 different sounds that can be made through this language. We call these sounds phonemes.

phoneme is a sound unit that that is used to create contrast between different sounds.

Identifying these sounds may be difficult in the beginning but with some further knowledge and practice you will be able to master them all. There are, of course, 44 writing characters to represent these phonemes that, all together, make a “phonemic alphabet”.