IPA phoneme /ɪ/

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kit /kɪt/

In English, both in Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phonetic symbol /ɪ/ corresponds to the vowel sound in words like "kit" and "English". It is one of the two vowel sounds we use in English for unstressed syllables, the other one being /ə/.[1]

In some dictionaries the vowel of KIT is written /i/. There is no confusion as long as the user knows the symbol for /iː/ (the vowel of FLEECE).

Standard British notation (including this website) ɪ
American notation ɪ i
Reduced symbol set i i:

Stressed /ɪ/[edit]

  • with "i": begin - big - bit - bring - chips - did - different - finish - fish - fit - give - hip - hit - interest - issue - kill - kiss - link - lip - liquid - little - quick - since - sing - sit - thick - thin - thing - think - this - will - win - with
  • with "y": crystal - physics - syllable - sympathy - system - typical


Stressed /ɪ/ is always followed by one or more consonants. In derived words a single consonant is usually doubled (begin, beginning; win, winner).

"i" or "y" followed by a single consonant "i" or "y" followed by a double consonant "i" or "y" followed by two or more different consonants
/ɪ/ city, finish, liquid
cylinder, physics, typical
beginning, different, little
syllable, symmetry
children, interest, history
crystal, symptom, system
/aɪ/ final, item, tiny
dynamite, hygiene, xylophone
  binder, design, title
cycle, hybrid, hydrogen

Spelling anomalies[edit]

  • with "e": England - English - pretty
  • with "u": business - busy
  • with "ui": build - built
  • with "o": women

/ɪ/ followed by /r/[edit]

Both in Received Pronunciation and in General American when /ɪ/ is followed by /r/ in the same syllable, a diphthong is pronounced: IPA phoneme /ɪə/. Near is [nɪər].

In Received Pronunciation but not in General American there is a difference between /ɪər/ and /ɪr/ when these sequences are followed by a vowel: nearer is [ˈnɪərər]BrE and mirror is [ˈmɪrər].BrE In General American there is no difference: some people pronounce [ˈnɪərər] and [ˈmɪərər] and others [ˈnɪrər] and [ˈmɪrər]. Since the difference between [ɪər]AmE and [ɪr]AmE is predictable, phoneticians say that in American English there is no phoneme /ɪə/, only phoneme /ɪ/.

These words don't rhyme[edit]

  • limb - climb; rescind - remind; pretty - petty;

Unstressed /ɪ/[edit]

happy /ˈhæpiː/
or /ˈhæpɪ/

  • with "i": benefit - finish - important - include - liquid - music - office - practice - president - public - service - visit - without
-ing forms: eating - going - having - living - saying - singing
  • with "e": become - begin - believe - demand - emotion - report - result
  • with "y": homonym - synthetic
  • with "a": spinach
with "'-age": average - mortgage - package - percentage - village
church’s - Dennis’s - fish’s - Leeds’s

For unstressed final /ɪ/ (happy, coffee, money, recipe, taxi, zombie) see Pronunciation exercises: /ɪ/ vs /iː/ § Unstressed syllable

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 section aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.


The Spanish sound represented by the spelling "i" is similar to /iː/ but shorter, and also similar to /ɪ/ but longer (and of a different quality). Most Spanish speakers have difficulty distinguishing between the vowel sound in "sin" and that of "seen".


See also[edit]

External links[edit]