Decoding the letter I

From Teflpedia

aɪə

fire /faɪər/

ɜː

girl /gɜːrl/

price /praɪs/

ɪ

kit /kɪt/

The letter I (lowercase i, pronounced /aɪ/), as most vowel letters in English, has four main pronunciations:

I has also some less common pronunciations, sometimes in combination with other letters, and, of course, it can be used as schwa.

As a single letter[edit]

IPA vowels
æ ɑː
trap father - start
e
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
ɔɪ
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
understand
/ˌʌndərˈstænd/
IPA Syllabification
. nitrate /ˈnaɪ.treɪt/, night-rate /ˈnaɪt.reɪt/

At the beginning or the middle of a word[edit]

One syllable
  • /ɪ/: big - bit - fill - fit - if - ill - in - inch - ink - inn - is - it - kill - kit - lick - live (verb) - print - quit - tip - wind (noun)
  • /aɪ/: bind - blind - child - climb - find - grind - I - I'll - I'm - I've - kind - mild - mind - pint - wild - wind (verb)
Pattern vowel-consonant-vowel

A single consonant can mean anything, but a double consonant (or ck) means the sound is /ɪ/ (or /ə/) and not /aɪ/.

Vowel Single consonant Double consonant
/ɪ/ city - critic - figure - finish - idiot - initial - limit - living - minute (60 seconds) - river - similar - visit - wizard chicken - committee - different - difficult - dinner - Finnish - fitting - illegal - illusion - innocent - issue - killing - mirror - mission - Mississippi - ticket - trigger - village
/aɪ/ final - icon - idea - ideal - idol - item - miner - minor - minute (very small) - pilot
/iː/ FIFA /ˈfiːfə/
Several syllables
  • /ɪ/: independent - input - insult - solid - until
  • /aɪ/: behind - bible - idle - library - remind - rewind
  • /ə/: compatible - council - pencil - recipe /ˈresəpɪ/
As a gerund
  • /ɪ/: adding - going - playing - reading - studying

At the end of a word[edit]

One syllable
  • /aɪ/: hi; Greek letters: chi, phi, pi, psi, xi
  • /iː/: ski; Musical notes: mi, si, ti
Several syllables
  • /aɪ/: alibi, rabbi
  • /iː/ or /ɪ/: bikini, broccoli, confetti, khaki, macaroni, origami, pepperoni, safari, spaghetti, sushi, taxi, tsunami, wiki, zucchiniAmE (BrE courgette)
  • /iː/: kiwi

Combined with consonants[edit]

igh[edit]

  • /aɪ/: bright, fight, flight, high, knight, light, might, night, right, sigh, sight, slightly, tight

ig[edit]

  • "ig" as /aɪ/: align, assign, benign, design, malign, resign, sign
  • "ig" as /ɪg/: ignore, signal, signature, significant

ir[edit]

See Decoding exercises: "ir"

  • /ɜː/: bird - birth - circle - dirty - firm - first - girl - shirt - sir - skirt - virtual
  • /ɪ/: miracle - spirit
  • /aɪ/: environment - irony - ironic - spiral - virus
  • Sequence /aɪə/: acquire - fire - hire - inspire - iron /ˈaɪərn/ - require - retire - wire
irr

See Decoding exercises: "irr"

  • /ɪ/: irrational - irregular - irritate - mirror - squirrelBrE
  • /ɜː/: squirrelAmE - stirred - stirring

Silent i[edit]

  • business

Combined with a vowel[edit]

With magic e[edit]

  • /aɪ/: bike - fine - life - like - line - live (adj.) - provide - time - while - wise - write
apologise/apologize - organise/organize - prioritise/prioritize - recognise/recognize

With silent e[edit]

  • /ɪ/: determine - discipline - engine - famine - imagine - indefinite - jasmine - live (v.) - medicine
  • /iː/: Christine - elite - machine - magazine - marine - police - routine

As /j/[edit]

  • /jə/: behavior,AmE behaviour,BrE billion, Brazilian, brilliant, civilian, communion, companion, million, onion, opinion, Spaniard, union
  • /iː.ə, jə/: auxiliary, billiards
  • /iː.ə,BrEAmE/: Australian, convenience, familiar, genius, junior, magnolia, peculiar, pneumonia, senior

ie[edit]

Main article: Decoding exercises: "ie"

  • /iː/: achieve - believe - field - piece - series
  • /aɪ/: die - lie - tie
As a suffix to nouns or as a diminutive or familiar name (the same words can often be spelt y):
auntie/aunty - Bobbie/Bobby - caddie/caddy - hippie/hippy - hoodie/hoody - Jimmie/Jimmy - Johnnie/Johnny

ia[edit]

Main article: Decoding exercises: "ia"

  • /ɪ/: carriage, marriage
  • /ə/: commercial, essential, initial, financial, official, parliament, potential, social, special
In different syllables
  • /iːə/: appropriate - associate (adj., n.) - immediate - industrial - variable
  • /iːeɪ/: appreciate - associate (v.)
  • /iːɪ/: foliage /ˈfəʊliːɪdʒ/
  • /iːæ/ Diana /daɪˈænə/ - Diane /daɪˈæn/
  • /aɪə/: dialogue - dialogAmE - giant - trial
  • /iːə/ or /aɪə/: via

Homophones[edit]

See main article Homophone.

  • bite - byte; die - dye; hi - high; I - eye; right - rite - write; sign - sine; site - sight; size - sighs; time - thyme;

Heteronyms[edit]

/ɪ/ vs /aɪ/

  • liver: internal organ - more live
  • lives: third person of verb "live" - plural of "life"
  • wind: air movement - to tighten a spring

References[edit]


See also[edit]

External links[edit]