IPA phoneme /f/
In English, both in Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phonetic symbol /f/ corresponds to the initial consonant sound in words like "fish", and "food" and the final one in "life" and "half". Just to keep students - and their teachers - on their toes, there are also a few words where it corresponds to "gh", as in "cough" or "ph", as in "physics".
Some common words which practice the pronunciation of /f/ include the following:
- with initial "f": face - fact - fail - fall - family - far - feel - few - fight - find - first - follow - for - forget - form - friend - from
- with final "f": belief - brief - chief - half - if - knife - life - off - relief - safe - self - staff - stuff - wife
- with mid "f": after - before - benefit - different - difficult - effect - information - offer - office - often - sulfurAmE - therefore
- with "gh": cough - enough - laugh - rough - tough
- with "ph": atmosphere - phase - philosophy - phonetics - photograph - phrase - physical - physics - telephone - sulphurBrE
- have to (meaning “must”) can be pronounced /ˈhæv tə/ or /ˈhæf tə/
- “of course” can be pronounced /əv kɔːrs/ or /əf kɔːrs/
Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1
Preconceived ideas and other interferences from L1 obviously interfere in many cases with how students perceive - and pronounce - sounds/words in English. The following section aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.