IPA phoneme /h/

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high /haɪ/

In English, both in Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phonetic symbol /h/ corresponds to the initial consonant sound in words like "hot" and "who".

Common words[edit]

Initial pronunciation of /h/:

  • With "h": Haiti - half - hand - happen - Harold - hard - hat - have - Hawaii - he - head - hear - heat - help - Henry - here - high - history - hit - home - hold - hot - house - how - human - Hungary - hut
  • With "wh": who - whole - whose

Mid-word pronunciation of /h/: ahead - alcohol - behave - behaviour - behind - childhood - Ohio - Oklahoma

Loan words[edit]

From Spanish
  • Don Quixote (current Spanish spelling Don Quijote): /ˌdɒn kiːˈhoʊtɪ/
  • jalapeño: /ˌhæləˈpeɪnjəʊ/,BrE /ˌhɑːləˈpeɪnjəʊ/AmE
  • junta: /ˈhʊntə/,AmE /ˈdʒʌntə/BrE
  • Oaxaca: /wəˈhɑːkə/
  • San Jose (California): /ˌsæn hoʊˈzeɪ/
From Yiddish
  • chutzpa: /ˈhʊtspə/

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.


Some Spanish speakers will replace /h/ by [x], a similar sound which corresponds to the letter "j" in Spanish.

The letter "h" in Spanish is always silent. This means that "hospital" is [ospi'tal]. Compensating for this, some students will pronounce the "h" in English words such as honest and honour.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]