Phonetics – Easy To Learn

Phonetics Definition

Phonetics is the study of the sounds used in speech. It’s a branch of linguistics that deals with the production, transmission, and reception of human speech sounds.

Types Of Phonetics

Phonetics can be broadly categorized into three types:

1. Articulatory Phonetics: This type of phonetics focuses on how speech sounds are physically produced. It studies how different parts of our mouth, like the tongue, lips, and vocal cords, move and interact to create specific sounds.

Example 1: The sound “p” in the word “pat” is made by pressing your lips together and then releasing them, creating a quick burst of air.
Example 2: The sound “s” in the word “sit” is produced by keeping your tongue close to the roof of your mouth while letting the air flow out between your tongue and the roof of your mouth.

2. Acoustic Phonetics: Acoustic phonetics is about the properties of sounds, particularly their physical characteristics. It deals with the sound waves created during speech. Scientists in this field examine the pitch, frequency, and amplitude of these waves. Think of it as understanding the patterns and properties of sound waves when you speak or listen.

Example 1: The pitch of your voice rises when you ask a question, creating higher-frequency sound waves.
Example 2: The intensity (loudness) of the sound when you shout “yay!” is higher compared to when you say it softly, resulting in different amplitudes of sound waves.

3. Auditory Phonetics: Auditory phonetics focuses on how sounds are perceived and interpreted by the human ear and brain. It explores how our ears receive sound waves and our brain processes them into meaningful information. It’s like decoding the sounds we hear and understanding what they mean.

Example 1: Your ears recognize the difference between the sounds “b” and “p” in words like “bat” and “pat.” Even though they sound similar, your brain processes the subtle differences in acoustic properties to understand the meaning.
Example 2: When someone speaks in a loud environment, your auditory system helps you focus on their voice and understand what they’re saying despite the background noise.

Simple Terms

  • Articulatory Phonetics: How we physically make sounds.
  • Acoustic Phonetics: The properties and patterns of sound waves.
  • Auditory Phonetics: How our ears and brain understand these sound waves.

Phonetic alphabets with symbols

Phonetic alphabets are sets of symbols used to represent the sounds of spoken language. One commonly used phonetic alphabet is the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). Here is a chart showing the IPA symbols for English consonants and vowels:


  • Plosives: Sounds produced by stopping the airflow completely and then releasing it. Examples: [p], [b], [t], [d], [k], [g]
  • Fricatives: Sounds produced by forcing air through a narrow channel, creating a turbulent airflow. Examples: [f], [v], [s], [z], [ʃ] (as in “ship”), [ʒ] (as in “measure”)
  • Affricates: Sounds that begin as stops and release into fricatives. Examples: [tʃ] (as in “chat”), [dʒ] (as in “judge”)
  • Nasals: Sounds produced by letting air escape through the nose. Examples: [m], [n], [ŋ] (as in “sing”)
  • Liquids: Sounds where the tongue partially obstructs the airflow. Examples: [l], [ɹ] (as in “red”)
  • Glides: Sounds where the articulatory organs change slowly from one vocalic gesture to another. Examples: [j] (as in “yes”), [w] (as in “we”)


  • Close Vowels: Sounds produced with a relatively small gap between the tongue and the roof of the mouth. Examples: [i] (as in “beet”), [ɪ] (as in “bit”), [u] (as in “boot”), [ʊ] (as in “foot”)
  • Mid Vowels: Sounds produced with a medium-sized gap between the tongue and the roof of the mouth. Examples: [e] (as in “bet”), [ɛ] (as in “bat”), [o] (as in “boat”), [ɔ] (as in “caught”)
  • Open Vowels: Sounds produced with a relatively large gap between the tongue and the roof of the mouth. Examples: [æ] (as in “cat”), [a] (as in “father”), [ɑ] (as in “balm”)

Consonants Chart

Plosives/p/ /b/ (as in pat, bat)
/t/ /d/ (as in ten, den)
/k/ /g/ (as in cat, go)
Fricatives/f/ /v/ (as in fan, van)
/s/ /z/ (as in sun, zoo)
/ʃ/ /ʒ/ (as in ship, measure)
/h/ (as in hat)
Nasals/m/ (as in man)
/n/ (as in not)
/ŋ/ (as in sing)
Approximants/j/ (as in yes)
/w/ (as in wet)
Other Consonants/l/ (as in light)
/r/ (as in right)

Vowels Chart

Monophthongs/i/ (as in see)
/e/ (as in bet)
/ə/ (as in about)
/ɑ/ (as in car)
/ɔ/ (as in thought)
/u/ (as in blue)
Diphthongs/aɪ/ (as in my)
/aʊ/ (as in now)
/ɔɪ/ (as in boy)
The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation based primarily on the Latin alphabet. The International Phonetic Association devised it as a standardized representation of the sounds of spoken language. Below is a chart of the IPA symbols for consonants and vowels:

A Chart Of The International Phonetic Alphabet symbols For Consonants And Vowels In Detailed


ConsonantIPA SymbolExample
Voiceless Bilabial Plosive/p/pen
Voiced Bilabial Plosive/b/bean
Voiceless Alveolar Plosive/t/ten
Voiced Alveolar Plosive/d/day
Voiceless Velar Plosive/k/key
Voiced Velar Plosive/g/go
Voiceless Glottal Plosive/ʔ/uh-oh
Voiceless Labiodental Fricative/f/fan
Voiced Labiodental Fricative/v/van
Voiceless Alveolar Fricative/s/see
Voiced Alveolar Fricative/z/zoo
Voiceless Palato-Alveolar Fricative/ʃ/shoe
Voiced Palato-Alveolar Fricative/ʒ/measure
Voiceless Glottal Fricative/h/high
Voiceless Alveolar Affricate/tʃ/church
Voiced Alveolar Affricate/dʒ/judge
Bilabial Nasal/m/man
Alveolar Nasal/n/no
Velar Nasal/ŋ/sing
Alveolar Lateral Approximant/l/light
Alveolar Tap or Flap/ɾ/better
Palatal Approximant/j/yes
Labiovelar Approximant/w/wet


VowelIPA SymbolExample
Close Front Unrounded/i/in
Close-Mid Front Unrounded/e/bay
Open-Mid Front Unrounded/ɛ/bed
Open Front Unrounded/a/hat
Open Back Rounded/ɒ/lot
Open-Mid Back Rounded/ɔ/awe
Close Back Rounded/u/up
Close-Mid Back Rounded/o/go
Close Front Unrounded/aɪ/price
Close-Mid Front Unrounded/eɪ/face
Open-Mid Front Unrounded/ɔɪ/choice
Close Back Rounded/aʊ/mouth
Close-Mid Back Rounded/oʊ/go
Open Back Rounded/əʊ/go

Please note that the actual pronunciation of these sounds might vary slightly based on regional accents and dialects.

2 thoughts on “Phonetics – Easy To Learn”

Leave a Comment