Phoneme /ɑː/ in Received Pronunciation

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This phonetics article is based on British English and received pronunciation. For an article valid in most of the English speaking world see IPA phoneme /ɑː/. For American English see Phoneme /ɑː/ in General American and Phoneme /æ/ in General American.


palm /pɑːm/


start /stɑːrt/


bath /bɑːθ/

In Received Pronunciation, the IPA phonetic symbol /ɑː/ corresponds to the vowel sound in words like "start", "art", "bath", "ask", "palm" and "spa".

In General American this symbol corresponds to the vowel sound in words like "start", "art", "palm", "spa", "lot" and "stop". See also Phoneme /ɑː/ in General American and IPA phoneme /ɒ/.

In Received Pronunciation /ɑːr/ is pronounced [ɑː] unless it is followed by a vowel, i.e. the "r" is normally silent unless it is followed by a vowel.

In General American the "r" is always pronounced.

There are places in the United Kingdom where the "r" is pronounced, and places in North America where it is not pronounced.

Common words[edit]

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

  • with "a" (AmE /æ/): advance - advantage - after - answer - ask - banana - basket - bath - branch - can't - cast - castle - chance - class - contrast - dance - demand - disaster - draft - example - fast - glance - glass - grant - grass - half - last - master - pass - past - path - plant - photograph - rather - sample - staff - task - vast
others: father /ˈfɑːðər/BrE AmE - tomato /təˈmɑːtəʊ/BrE /təˈmeɪtəʊ/AmE
  • with "ar": apart, are /ər, ɑːr/, aren't, argue /ˈɑːrɡjuː/, argument, arm, army, art, article, artist, bar, car, card, carpet, charge, charm, chart, dark, department, far, farm, garden, guard /ɡɑːrd/, guitar, hard, harm, large, march, mark, market, park, part, partner, party, regard, remark, sharp, smart, star, start, target /ˈtɑːrɡɪt/, yard

Spelling anomalies[edit]

  • with "au" (AmE /æ/): aunt - draughtBrE /drɑːft/ - laugh
  • clerk /klɑːrk,BrE klɜːrkAmE/
  • heart


  • aren't - aunt;
  • draft (rough version) - draughtBrE (flow of air)

Less common words[edit]

  • /ɑː/BrE AmE: bra, calm, drama, facade, koala, lama, llama, nuance, palm, spa

These words don't rhyme[edit]

  • /ɑː, æ/: example - ample; father - gather; demand - hand; pass - mass;
  • /ɑːðz, æθs/: paths - maths

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.


Many Spanish speakers have difficulty remembering that in Received Pronunciation /ɑː/ is pronounced the same whether there is an "r" after the "a" or not.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]