Phonetics in English
Before we get into English phonics, let’s first explain what phonics is, what is meant by the study of sounds when speaking and how they are made, transmitted and heard. It also refers to the connection between written letters and the sounds in a word.
Phonics will be useful when you want to know how to read a word and how to write it. This will make it easier for people to understand you and for you to understand them without much effort.
English Phonics Basics
Let’s look at some elements that are key to learning basic English, and which you may have learned but without knowing the rules or explanation behind it. That’s why today we present you with this little guide so that you can become familiar with words and their sounds, and find it much easier to pronounce them correctly and, therefore, to speak English. It can be a little confusing at first, but if you listen to the words and their pronunciation at the same time, everything becomes more natural.
So pay close attention and take notes, it’s always a good idea to have a little English phonetics guide available to consult whenever you need it.
The silent “e
If the “e” is at the end of the word and there is only one more vowel in it, then the first one is pronounced and the “e” becomes silent, also prolonging the sound of the vowel before it.
But the E is not the only letter that mutes, here are other silent letters and their rules, as well as examples of words for you to understand better:
The B is silent if it comes after the M, at the end of the word
The C is usually silent in the SC combination
G is silent when followed by N
Sign ( signal )
D is also silent in common words used regularly
The silent H is not pronounced when it comes after a vowel
Now, GH can have a sound similar to F
The H is silent if preceded by a W
The H also does not sound if it comes after the letters C, G or R
The silent L is the one that comes after the vowels A, O and U
The K also doesn’t sound when it comes before the N at the beginning of a word
The N becomes silent if it comes after the M at the end of a word
The P does not sound if it is at the beginning of words with the combinations PS, PT and PN
PH is often going to sound like F
The S is silent before the L in these words
The T is silent in some common words like
The U is silent when it comes after the letter G and if it comes before a vowel
Finally, the W is silent at the beginning of a word if it comes before the R
Wraith (apparition, ghost)
Short and long vowels
If after a vowel, there is a consonant, the vowel is short. It is also usually short when there is only one in a word or syllable, such as “on”, “pink”.
It will be a long vowel when its sound is pronounced individually when it says its own name. Usually, if that vowel is alone at the end of a syllable or word. “no” (no) and “later” (later).
The “schwa” sound
Any vowel is capable of making this sound, which is why it is the most common sound in English. It is of vital importance that you understand it well, this sound is similar to an “uh” or the “a” in “about”. In British English, it is very commonly used in words ending in “er”. “Sister, register” – Sister, register.
The case of the double consonant can bring many people to their senses, as a word may or may not bend in these cases:
Forms in -ing (running)
Forms in -ed (spotted)
Fatter Fattest and Sadder Saddest
There are a few things to take into account in order to know whether or not you should double the consonant, if the word is monosyllabic, remember the consonant-vowel-consonant rule.
Run – running
Win – winning
Trim – trimming
Stop – stopping
If the word has more than one syllable and no intonation, we will not double the consonant. For example:
Visit – visiting
Listen – listening
Similarly, words ending in W, Y, and X are not doubled.
Glow – glowing
Mix – mixing
Play – playing
We have to double the consonant if the word has the tonic syllable at the end, like here:
Prefer – preferred
Begin – beginning
There are two exceptions to this in British English:
Travel – traveling, traveled
Cancel – canceling, canceled
Syllables and vowels
The syllables and vowels are what form the words, the syllables are A, E, I, O U, and the consonants are the other letters of the English alphabet, now we will see a small list of their pronunciation.
e Tent, better, pretend, West.
æ Rat, cat, tap, hat, flat.
ʌ Gun, dove, honey, London, Rome.
ʊ Took, book, scoop, put
ə About, December, banana, mother, again.
i: Agree, feed, beach, machine, beat, niece.
ɜ: Bird, word, car, worm, hard.
ɔ: Walk, north, force, south. yawn, jaw.
u: Goose, moon, fruit, gloomy, do, blew, two.
Vowels with diphthong
ɪə dear, unclear, fear, beard, disappear.
eə pure, air, aware, dairy, tourist.
eɪ Trace, fade, hay, eight.
ɔɪ coin, avoid, toy, destroy, oil, oyster.
aɪ die, blind, time, my, bright, fight, dye.
əʊ alone, bone, no, home, arrow, boat, stone.
f fun, Friday, flex.
θ sand, seven, miss.
zoo, amazing, lazy.
ʃ show, trash, dash, ship.
ʒ measure, pleasure.
h honey, hell, hold.
p tap, permanent, plunder.
b beg, bounce, bottle, bribe.
the tent, truck, mate.
k dock, kettle, quick.
g going, gun, tag, girl.
ʈʃ chain, change, choosing, watch.
dʒ jeans, edge, joy.
m gloom, mouse, monkey, mother.
n know, burn, now.
ŋ trimming, something, king.
r rose, rent, right, ride.
J yellow, yard, university.
while wet, world, walnut, wall.
l and ɫ lot, lid, law, medicine, law.
Wow, that’s a lot to learn eh, most people who study English are certainly not expected to know the English phonetic alphabet (IPA) perfectly, but if you give it a good review and pay attention to all the English you hear in movies and songs or series, you can identify the different sounds and intonations, keeping in mind that some things will vary depending on the accent of the particular person and his place of origin. But this is true in any language, even your native language.
Ah! And it should be clarified that the phonetics in English explained here are focused on the British one, so you should take that into account. Now, with everything ready, you can practice and learn the different and fascinating English sounds.