For example, the pronunciation of "tube" is [tjuːb]. If I learned "tube", I know how to spell "student" which is [ˈstjuːdnt], because "tube" and "student" share [tjuː].

So, is there an English word subset, which can demonstrate almost all familiar pronunciations?

  • 4
    Please note that these pronunciations apply to British English. The typical American pronunciation is more like 'toob'. Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 9:01
  • 1
    Do you mean "all familiar phonemes"? Because there is no subset of words that will help you spell or pronounce and unknown word: knowing tomb and loom and bomb does not help you spell or pronounce comb.
    – stangdon
    Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 12:25
  • Though for British English (which is FINE), this is simply the easiest and BEST guide to all standardized phonemes in English and their spelling realization: walmart.com/ip/… Maybe you can find a way to order it? It is a jewel as it shows that different spellings can be pronounced the same way: hear and here, for example. or feet and feat.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 17:53

2 Answers 2


I think you are looking for a phoneme/grapheme correspondence. Here is one adapted from A Catalog of Spellings:

phoneme graphemes
/æ/ a (sack), 97%; a_e (have), 3%
/eɪ/ a (bacon), 45%; a_e (bake), 35%; ai (raid), 9%; ay (play), 6%
/eɪə/ are (bare), 32%; air (fair), 30%; ere (there), 28%; ear (bear), 8%
/ɑː/ ar (bar), 89%; are (are), 5%; ear (heart), 3%
/ɒː/ o (lost), 41%; a (ball), 22%; au (haul), 19%; aw (saw) 10%
/b/ b (big), 97%
/tʃ/ ch (chair), 55%, t (feature), 31%; tch (catch), 11%
/d/ d (do), 98%
/ə/ o (other), 24%; u (up), 20%; a (alarm), 19%; i (panic), 18%; e (enough), 11%; ou (famous), 5%
/e/ e (bed), 91%; ea (bread) 4%
/iː/ y (very), 41%; e (beware), 40%; ee (feet), 6%; ea (seat), 6%
/iə/ er (experience), 32%; ear (fear), 25%; eer (deer), 18%; e_e (here), 14%; ier (tier), 7%
/əl/ le (table), 95%
/ɛ/ er (hammer), 77%; or (odor), 12%; ar (cellar), 8%
/f/ f (fox), 78%; ph (phone), 12%; ff (stuff), 9%
/g/ g (girl), 88%; gg (egg), 5%;
/h/ h (hot), 98%
/ɪ/ i (hit), 92%; i-e (give), 6% [y (gym), 2%]
/ɑi/ i_e (pipe), 37%; i (Bible), 37%; y (by), 14%; igh (right), 6%
/dʒ/ ge (age), 66%; j (jet), 22%; dge (edge), 5%; d (soldier), 3%
/k/ c (car), 73%; k (kit), 13%; ck (sick), 6%; ch (choir), 3%
/ks/ x (six), 90%; cs (epics), 10%
/kw/ qu (quit), 97%
/l/ l (leg), 91%; ll (tell), 9%
/m/ m (mad), 94%; mm (dimmer), 4%
/n/ n (no), 97% [kn (know)<1%]
/ŋ/ ng (sing), 59%; n (monkey), 41%
/ɒ/ o (hot), 94%; a (want), 5%
/əʊ/ o (focus), 73%; o_e (hope), 14%; oa (boat), 5%; ow (row), 5%
/ɔɪ/ oi (oil), 62%; oy (toy), 32%
/ʊ/ u (bush), 61%; oo (hook), 35%; o (woman), 5%
/ɔ/ or (for), 97%; ore (core), 3%
/aʊ/ ou (shout), 56%; ow (howl), 29%; ou_e (house), 13%
/p/ p (pin), 96%, pp (happen), 4%
/ɹ/ r (run), 97%
/s/ s (say), 73%, c (cereal), 17%; ss (toss), 7%
/ʃ/ ti (action), 53%; sh (shy), 26%; ci (special), 5%; ssi (fission), 3%
/t/ t (top), 97%
/θ/ th (bath) 100%
/ʌ/ u (bus) 86%; o (ton), 8%
/uː/ u (human), 59%; u_e (use), 19%; oo (moon), 11%; ew (few) 4%
/v/ v (very), 99.5%
/w/ w (way), 92%; u (suede), 7.5%
/j/ i (onion), 55%; y (yes), 44%
/z/ s (was), 64%; z (zero), 23%; es (flies), 4%, x (xylophone), 4%
/ʒ/ si (incision), 49%; s (pleasure), 33%; g (garage), 15%

This table gives a list of words: "sack, have, bacon, bake ...." each of which illustrates a way of writing each of the phonemes, (or common blends). It, therefore, is a subset of English that illustrates the most common spellings of each pronunciation.

The pronunciation of /j/ in the grapheme "tu" is not common enough (less than 3%) to make this list.

There are a few surprises for me in this table: The "ough" words are rare enough not to appear. "kn" and "gn" are also rare. The short /ɪ/ is rarely written "y", but the long /i/ is usually written "y" or "e", and the frequncy of "ee" or "ea" is much less. The phoneme /j/ (in yellow) is more commonly written "i" than "y". The /z/ phoneme is usually written "s", and so on.


Most dictionaries contain a guide to IPA pronunciation. Take your pick.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .