IPA phoneme /aɪ/

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price /prʌɪs/

Strict IPA


price /praɪ̯s/


price /praɪs/

In English, both in Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phonetic symbol /aɪ/ corresponds to the vowel sound in words like "price", "fly" and "time". This diphthong is informally called long I and a bit more formally "the long sound of the letter I".

In strict IPA diphthongs need an inverted breve under their less prominent vowel: /aɪ̯/. However the notation we are using does not have the symbol /a/ by itself, and therefore we know that a vowel after /a/ has an implied inverted breve.

This vowel can be pronounced as [aɪ̯], [ʌɪ̯] or (in Australian English) [ɑe̯]. In Southern American English this phoneme can be the monophthong [aː].

At the advice of Clive Upton the Concise Oxford Dictionary altered the British tradition and now uses /ʌɪ/ instead of /aɪ/; later Oxford Dictionaries Online followed the same convention.[1] The phonetician Jack Windsor Lewis says "the verdict on /ʌɪ/ alongside /aʊ/ must be that it is a very regrettable departure from EPD14b [Daniel Jones English Pronouncing Dictionary] that would be better abandoned in future."[2]

IPA vowels
æ ɑː
trap father - start
dress face square
ɪ ɪə
kit fleece near
ɒ əʊ ɔː
lot goat taught
ʊ ʊə
foot goose mature
juː jʊə
cute cure
ʌ ə ɜː
strut comma nurse
price mouth choice
IPA consonants
Normal sound: /b, d, f, g, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w, z/
 ʃ  ŋ
show church sing
ʒ  j 
usual judge you
θ ð s
think that see
IPA Stress
ˈ Primary stress
hotel /həʊˈtel/
ˌ Secondary stress
IPA Syllabification
. nitrate /ˈnaɪ.treɪt/, night-rate /ˈnaɪt.reɪt/

Common words[edit]

Some common words which practice the pronunciation of /aɪ/ include the following:

One syllable[edit]

  • with "ie": die - lie - pie - tie
  • with "i": blind - child - find - I - kind - mild - mind - pint - wild - wind (verb) - whilst
  • with "i" and magic e: bike - drive - file - ice - life - like - line - live (adj.) - mine - nice - pine - price - quite - rise - side - size - smile - time - while - white - wine - write
  • with "ig": sign
  • with "igh": bright - fight - flight - fright - height - high - light - might - night - right - sigh - sight - slight - thigh - tight
  • with the letter "y": by - cry - dry - dye - fly - fry - my - rye - shy - sky - sty - style - try - type - why
  • others: buy - guy; eye

Several syllables[edit]

  • with "i": behind - finally - idea - identity - item - library - private - science - variety - title
  • with "i" and magic e: arrive - decide - describe - outside - realiseBrE/realize - require - surprise
  • with "ig": align - assign - design
  • with "y" and magic e: analyseBrE/analyzeAmE
  • with "y": apply - cycle - deny - identify - reply - supply

Less common words[edit]

  • with "ei": kaleidoscope
  • with "ae": maestro - tae kwon do
  • coyote: /kaɪˈəʊ.tiː/, /ˈkaɪ.oʊt/,AmE /kɔɪˈəʊ.tiː/BrE

/aɪ/ in combination with /r/[edit]

In some words "ir" and "yr" are pronounced /aɪər/, and in others they are pronounced /aɪr/.

  • /aɪə/: acquire - choir - desire - entire - fire - hire - Ireland - iron /aɪərn/ - inspire - Ireland - require - retire - tire - tyreBrE - umpire - wire
  • /aɪ/: environment - gyrate - irate - pirate - polystyrene - pyromaniac - spiral - virus


  • aisle - I'll - isle; bite - byte; cite - site - sight; die - dye; high - hi; I - eye; knight - night; right - write; sighed - side; sighs - size; time - thyme; whine - wine; why - Y.


  • live /lɪv/ (verb) /laɪv/ (adjective)
  • wind /wɪnd/ (air movement) /waɪnd/ (to tighten a spring)

Variant pronunciations[edit]

  • either /ˈaɪðər, ˈiːðər/, neither /ˈnaɪðər, ˈniːðər/
  • geyser /ˈɡaɪzər,AmE ˈɡiːzərBrE/

Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1[edit]

Preconceived ideas and other interferences from L1 obviously interfere in many cases with how students perceive - and pronounce - sounds/words in English. The following sections aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.


See also[edit]


  1. Oxford Dictionaries Online, Key to pronunciations (British and World English dictionary). See ʌɪ as in my.
  2. Jack Windsor Lewis, IPA vowel symbols for British English in dictionaries, Section 8. /ʌɪ/ versus /aɪ/.

External links[edit]