IPA phoneme /aɪ/

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price /prʌɪs/

Strict IPA


price /praɪ̯s/


price /praɪs/

In English, both in Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phonetic symbol /aɪ/ corresponds to the vowel sound in words like "price", "fly" and "time". This diphthong is informally called long I and a bit more formally "the long sound of the letter I".

In strict IPA diphthongs need an inverted breve under their less prominent vowel: /aɪ̯/. However the notation we are using does not have the symbol /a/ by itself, and therefore we know that a vowel after /a/ has an implied inverted breve.

This vowel can be pronounced as [aɪ̯], [ʌɪ̯] or (in Australian English) [ɑe̯]. In Southern American English this phoneme can be the monophthong [aː].

At the advice of Clive Upton the Concise Oxford Dictionary altered the British tradition and now uses /ʌɪ/ instead of /aɪ/; later Oxford Dictionaries Online followed the same convention.[1] The phonetician Jack Windsor Lewis says "the verdict on /ʌɪ/ alongside /aʊ/ must be that it is a very regrettable departure from EPD14b [Daniel Jones English Pronouncing Dictionary] that would be better abandoned in future."[2]

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

Common words

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

One syllable

  • with "ie": die - lie - pie - tie
  • with "i": bind - blind - child - climb - find - hi - I - kind - mild - mind - pint - wild - wind (verb) - whilst
  • with "i" and magic e: bike - drive - file - fine - ice - life - like - line - live (adj.) - mile - mine - nice - pine - price - quite - rise - side - site - size - smile - strike - time - while - white - wide - wife - wine - write
  • with "ig": sign
  • with "igh": bright - fight - flight - fright - height - high - light - might - night - right - sigh - sight - slight - thigh - tight
  • with the letter "y": by - cry - dry - dye - fly - fry - my - rye - shy - sky - style - try - type - why
  • others: buy - guy; eye

Several syllables

  • with "i": behind - environment - finally - idea - identity - item - library - primary - private - science - society - variety - title - trial
  • with "i" and magic e: arrive - decide - define - describe - exercise - inside - outside - provide - realiseBrE/realize - require - surprise
  • with "ig": align - assign - design - resign
  • with "y" and magic e: analyseBrE/analyzeAmE
  • with "y": apply - cycle - deny - identify - July - reply - supply

Less common words

  • with "i":
Followed by one consonant: ivory, Niger, Nigeria, North Carolina, South Carolina
Followed by two or more consonants: grind
Followed by a vowel: Brian, Diana, Diane, Iowa, Ohio
  • with "igh": Brighton
  • with "y": Ryan, sty, tycoon, Wyoming
  • with "ei": apartheid, gesundheit, kaleidoscope, leitmotif, poltergeist, Rottweiler
  • with "ey": geyserAmE
  • with "ae": maestro, tae kwon do
  • with "ai": aikido, bonsai, daiquiri, haiku, kaiser, samurai, Taiwan, Thailand
  • with "ay": papaya, Paraguay, Uruguay
  • coyote: /kaɪˈəʊ.tiː/, /ˈkaɪ.oʊt/,AmE /kɔɪˈəʊ.tiː/BrE

/aɪ/ in combination with /r/

In some words "ir" and "yr" are pronounced /aɪər/, and in others they are pronounced /aɪr/.

  • /aɪə/: acquire - choir - desire - entire - fire - hire - Ireland - iron /aɪərn/ - inspire - Ireland - require - retire - tire - tyreBrE - umpire - wire
  • /aɪ/: environment - gyrate - irate - pirate - polystyrene - pyromaniac - spiral - virus


  • aisle - I'll - isle; bite - byte; buy - by; cite - site - sight; die - dye; fined - find; high - hi; I - eye; knight - night; mined - mind; right - rite - write; sighed - side; sighs - size; sight - site; time - thyme; whine - wine; why - Y.


  • live /lɪv/ (verb) /laɪv/ (adjective)
  • wind /wɪnd/ (air movement) /waɪnd/ (to tighten a spring)

Variant pronunciations

  • /ə, ɪ, aɪ/: direct, director, directory
  • either /ˈaɪðər, ˈiːðər/, neither /ˈnaɪðər, ˈniːðər/
  • fragile /ˈfrædʒaɪl,BrE ˈfrædʒəlAmE/
  • geyser /ˈɡaɪzər,AmE ˈɡiːzərBrE/

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



  1. Oxford Dictionaries Online, Key to pronunciations (British and World English dictionary). See ʌɪ as in my.
  2. Jack Windsor Lewis, IPA vowel symbols for British English in dictionaries, Section 8. /ʌɪ/ versus /aɪ/.

See also

External links