In some dictionaries, the second i sound in experience is a short ɪ,

But googling "pronounce experience" shows the i sound is long i: "uhk·spee·ree·uhns"

I asked a native English speaker and he said it's a long i: as in PEER.

I tried to listen to different people pronouncing it but as an English learner it's hard to me catch the difference sometimes.

Are both pronunciations correct or the actual pronunciation is somehow in the middle of a long i: & a short ɪ? If both are correct, do they differ by regions or accents?

  • You say "as an English learner it's hard to me catch the difference sometimes", but actually it's the fact that you're not a native speaker that makes you notice the difference. Most actual native speakers simply wouldn't even be aware it was possible for such a difference to exist, because it doesn't mean anything. We're consciously aware of the much more extreme phonetic difference between a 4 by 2 (inch) wooden post with a short /ɪ/ or extended diphthong /aɪ/ - but even that has no semantic significance, so natives take no notice of the difference anyway. Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 12:34

1 Answer 1


I can think of two possible issues at play here.

One issue is a difference in pronunciation between British RP ("Received Pronunciation", which is considered the standard pronunciation among all their regional varieties) and standard North American English (NA Eng). These are the pronunciations dictionaries give, rather than giving every regional pronunciation.

I, a Canadian native speaker (part of NA Eng), pronounce it with a long, tense /i:/. RP speakers, pronounce it with a diphthong (two vowel sounds pronounced together as one) /ɪə/, which includes the short /ɪ/ sound.

The second issue is that sometimes there are multiple pronunciations of a word, but native speakers cannot distinguish them, nor even identify which one they themselves use. In a case like that, there's no sense in a printing more than one pronunciation in a dictionary, so the writers just choose one, somewhat arbitrarily.

I believe "experience" is such a case.

  • There's also possibly an issue with all the different systems for representing pronunciation that you quoted. I had written a bunch about that too, but you didn't directly state that you were having trouble understanding them, so I left it out. Let me know if that's a source of confusion for you and I'll add it in
    – gotube
    Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 6:02
  • Thanks. I think I basically understand them though the different systems are somehow confusing Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 6:07
  • Each dictionary publisher has their own proprietary pronunciation representation system. Most of them are kinda based on the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), like the Longman and M-W systems. In contrast, the Google system is an attempt to represent all English sounds with just the 26 English letters. They're all trade-offs between accuracy and readability by the average person. I used IPA a lot in university, and transcribe my own pronunciation as /ɪkˈspi:ɹɪəns/.
    – gotube
    Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 6:19

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