Learning a language, especially English, requires the acquisition of a set of oral skills that will allow you to fully master it. Among these skills, management of phonetics in english, as it is vital for the correct pronunciation.

Pronouncing English words and expressions correctly will make communication easier for you. To achieve this goal you must focus on the study of English phonetics and phonology.

By studying and practicing English phonetic words, you will perfect the techniques that will allow you to pronounce them correctly. It turns out that, although it may seem arbitrary, the truth is that phonetics in English follow a set of rules.

What is phonetics?

Before delving into phonetics in English, it is important to define what we mean by phonetics. It is key to have clear terms so that you can dedicate time and effort to practice it.

Phonetics is the most identifying component of a language. This is a representation scheme of sounds, as they should be pronounced, through graphic figures which usually correspond to modified letters.

Learning English phonetics will help you develop your speaking skills by significantly improving your pronunciation.

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These modified letters or symbols are known as phonemes. Learning them implies exercise enough memory and hearing, plus the results are worth the effort.

The use of phonemes ranges from language teaching spaces to the content of translation dictionaries. Additionally, they help those who do not speak the language to differentiate the resonance of each word.

Why should you know about phonetics for English?

In a language as globalized and necessary as English, it is useful to know its phonetic structure. Recognizing phonemes will allow you even Pronounce correctly words you have never heard.

Knowing the phonemes of English will allow you to identify sounds and correctly pronounce words that you have never heard before.

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Phonetics can be used for the understanding and generic use of English. Regardless of the differences in specific terms and the accents of each English-speaking country, the phonetic structure is similar.

Knowledge and mastery of phonetics and phonology in English is essential in the study of the language. However, in traditional teaching systems, learning phonetics in English is often marginally used.

Consequently, there are usually situations in which the development of reading and writing is achieved at a sustained level. But there are always greater difficulties in listening comprehension and oral communication.

The interesting thing is that phonetics can be approached, in a general way, from the beginning of contact with the language. In addition, it can be studied individually with the appropriate rigor and support. 

For example, there are numerous websites that offer free audiovisual content with pictures of phonemes and sounds; others allow interactive practices. There are also online tutorials with native English teachers.

This type of learning, personal and self-directed, constitutes an important differential that can be quickly developed. You can also have a face-to-face learning method that focuses on phonetics.

In any case, the use of phonetics in English is a basic aspect of fluency in the use of the language.

Phonetics: How do you pronounce it in English?

Understanding phonetics in English

Phonetics in English allows us to recognize those sounds of the language that differ greatly from Spanish. And it is that the movements of the mouth and tongue to produce the different sounds vary from one language to another.

In this sense, something as simple as placing the lips in a different way can make a big difference in pronunciation. In the same way, the accentuation of the words will play a fundamental role.

One of the main differences that we can find in words with phonetics in English is the pronunciation of the letter “R”. In Spanish this sound has much more force than in English.

In order to correctly produce the letter “R” in English, you must bring the tip of your tongue to the center of your palate. When making this arc, you will be able to clearly notice the difference with the “R” of Spanish.

The symbols used to denote the pronunciation of a language are known as phonemes. Learning them is necessary to pronounce correctly.

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On the other hand, the stress of words is an element of phonetics in English that will allow you to improve your pronunciation. In Spanish, we have accent marks to recognize the accent. In English, this symbol does not exist.

If you don't know how to stress a word when you pronounce it, it can be helpful to look up its transcription. Some online translators present symbols or phonemes that will allow you to adjust the articulation of the sound.

The phoneme that will tell you which syllable should have the greatest voice strength is known as the “apostrophe” and is located just before it. Let's look at some examples:

Prepare /prɪˈpeə/ - prepare

Rather /ˈrɑːðə/ - to prefer

It is important to keep in mind that, just like in Spanish, the meaning of some words can vary depending on the accent. 

To record /rɪˈkɔːd/ (to record sounds or information) 

A record /ˈrekɔːd/ (a written or audio copy of the information)

Basic rules of phonetics in English

Basic rules of phonetics in English

Phonetics in English follows a series of rules that you must know in order to master this aspect of the language. While there are many, spending a little time learning and practicing them will pay off.

Let's look at some basic rules:

  • The "E" is usually silent if it is at the end of a word: Pine (pine) Ride (mount), Drive (drive).
  • When the "B" is after an "M" at the end of a word, it is not pronounced: Crumb (crumb), Comb (comb), Numb (numb).
  • The “GH” combination sounds a lot like an “F”: Cough (cough), Laugh (laugh), Tough (rough).
  • In the combination "SC" the "C" is silent: Scent (essence), Scene (scene), Muscle (muscle). 
  • When the "G" is followed by an "N", it is also not pronounced: Sign (signal), Reign (reign), Design (design).
  • In general, the "D" followed by a consonant in the middle of words is silent: Handsome (handsome), Wednesday (Wednesday), Bridge (bridge).
  • Whenever the "H" is preceded by a "W", it is silent: Why (why), When (when), Where (where), White (blank).
  • Similarly, the "H" remains silent if it goes after C, G or R: Chemistry (chemistry), Echo (echo), School (school), Ghost (ghost).
  • Another silent letter is sometimes the "K", when it is found before the "N" at the beginning of a word: Knife (knife), Know (to know), Knackered (exhausted).
  • The combination of "PH" sounds like an "F": Elephant (elephant), Orphan (orphan), Dolphin (dolphin).
  • When the "P" is at the beginning of words with the combinations PS, PT and PN, it does not sound: Pneumonia (Pneumonia), Psychology (psychology), Psalm (psalm).
  • In some specific words the "T" is silent: Castle (castle), Often (often), Ballet (ballet), Christmas (Christmas).
  • In words beginning with WR, the W is silent: Wrinkle (wrinkle), Write (write), Wrong (wrong).
  • In the following cases the "S" is silent: Island (island), Isle (island), Aisle (corridor).
  • When the “U” is between a “G” and another vowel, it is also not pronounced: Guitar (guitar), Tongue (tongue), Guard (guard)

phonetic examples 

Now that you know some English phonetic words, you can start practicing the pronunciation. Next, we present the phonemes of the vowels in English with clear examples.


/ɑː/car, fast


/e/ /ɛ/egg

/ə/ present


/ɪ/fish, if, English

/iː/tea, sheep,we

/ɒ/ box


/ʊ/bull, football


On the other hand are the consonants. Although some sound exactly the same as in Spanish, there are some small differences.

In the following list you will find some consonants whose pronunciation in English you should recognize:

/ʃ/ -The sound is very similar to when in Spanish we are trying to ask someone for silence shhhhh:

she machine finish

/z/- It is very similar to the Spanish s but with vibration, sounding more like a buzz:

zoo reason rose 

/θ/- It is one of the most difficult sounds for Spanish speakers. It is quite similar to the Spanish "C". It is achieved by placing the tip of the tongue between the teeth:

thing, nothing, path

/ð/ -Can be described as a “D” with vibration:

that, mother, there


Phonetics in English is quite complete and its conscientious study offers the possibility of significantly improving your oral communication skills. For this reason, it should be an area to consider within your learning process.

In English2Go we understand the importance of phonetics in English and we offer you the opportunity to practice and perfect it. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.

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