When you learn a new word, you learn what it means and how it is used in a sentence. You might even learn the different forms of the word. For you to actually use this word while speaking, though, you need to know how to pronounce it. There are a few ways you can learn the correct pronunciation of a word.You could ask someone to say it for you, or find an example of the spoken word in a video.
However, a dictionary will still be very helpful to you while you learn English.
First of all, a dictionary allows you to look up a huge diversity and quantity of English words. For example, you may be in a classroom or meeting where you cannot use your cell phone or maybe your phone’s battery just died. Maybe you do not like using apps, and prefer to have a paper dictionary.No matter the situation, reading the dictionary pronunciation guide can be an incredibly useful tool for English learners. You will know at a glance that the two g’s in garage make two different sounds, and that the o in boot is not the same as the o in boat. Take a little time to figure out the pronunciation guide, and you will be saving yourself a lot of time in the future.
British or American?
This guide will cover the American dictionary pronunciation guide. The American and British guides are slightly different—they use different symbols for the same sounds. The British guide uses more actual symbols or old Greek letters, so it can be a little harder to learn. If you are interested in British pronunciation, check out the Oxford English Dictionary’s guide to British vs. American symbols and sounds.
5 Things You Must Know About All English Pronunciation Guides
Before you start learning the pronunciation guide, here is a quick outline to help you understand how the IPA works:
- Consonants:Consonants are all of the letters that are not vowels. The English language might have 21 consonants, but there are less consonant sounds. Letters like c and k, and c and s can have the same sound depending on where they are in the word. Other sounds are a combination of consonants, like ch and sh. These make different sounds too. There are not that many consonant symbols to learn, and they are mostly easy to understand—so that is a relief!
- Vowels:The vowels in the English language are a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y. Vowels can be combined with other letters, and each other, to create new sounds. There are a few different ways of pronouncing each vowel, and a symbol for each of those pronunciations.
- Diphthongs:Even if you have heard of vowels and consonants, you probably have never heard this word! Diphthongs are the sounds made by two vowels put together. Sometimes this is just one sound, like the oo Other times the sound starts in one vowel and moves into the next, like the oa in soak.
- Syllables:Along with pronunciation guides for the letters, dictionaries break up words into syllables. These make it easier to spell and speak the word, since they turn one word in a few easy to say parts.
- Stresses:Words in the English language uses stresses. Where you put the stress is important to pronouncing the word right, and can even change the meaning of the word. For example, “when you addRESS the Internet, do not give out your ADDress” These two differently stressed versions of address Mean two different things, just because of the stress! Dictionary guides show you where the stress goes, and they let you know when a different stress will change the meaning of the word.
- Advanced Sounds:Linguists define vowels as sounds made without placing anything in the way (like your tongue or teeth). Syllables are also created around them you can’t have too many voiced consonants without a vowel in between, or it is impossible to read. Consonants, on the other hand, are sounds made by partially blocking your breath when you speak. Some sounds, like p, b and g, are actually made by completely stopping your breath.