Phonemes of the English Language

The following list of phonemes and helpful explanatory examples was collected by Dr. Bruce Murray, Department of Curriculum and Teaching, Auburn University ( As he has made them freely available, this list may be used freely. Dr. Murray cautions that they are not always the formal phoneme symbols used by linguists, in that greek symbols and diacritical marks are not used. But most of the common phonemes used in learning to read English are included.

Borrowed freely from Open Court materials and AU lesson designs
Phoneme  Spelling(s) and Example Words Meaningful Names
/A/  a (table), a_e (bake), ai (train), ay (say)  Long A; Fonzie's greeting
/a/  a (flat) Crying baby; baby lamb; home alone
/b/ b (ball)  Beating heart; drum
/k/  c (cake), k (key), ck (back)  Nutcracker; golf shot; camera
/d/  d (door) Knocking; dribbling ball
/E/  e (me), ee (feet), ea (leap), y (baby) Long E; shriek
/e/  e (pet), ea (head)  Rocking chair; creaky door; hard of hearing
/f/ f (fix), ph (phone) Angry cat; clothes brush; electric fan; soda fizz
/g/  g (gas) Croaking frog, gulping soda
/h/  h (hot)  Out of breath; warm breath; tired dog
/I/  i (I), i_e (bite), igh (light), y (sky) Long I
/i/  i (sit) Crying puppy; icky sticky; baby pig
/j/  j (jet), dge (edge), g[e, i, y] (gem) Scrub brush; wood rasp; jump rope
/l/ l (lamp)  Flying saucer; mixer
/m/  m (my) Mmm mmm good; delicious sound
/n/  n (no), kn (knock) Mosquito; motorboat
/O/  o (okay), o_e (bone), oa (soap), ow (low)  Long O; Oh, I see
/o/  o (hot) Say ah; doctor sound; cool drink; yawn
/p/ p (pie)  Popcorn; water drip;  stone skip; soap bubbles
/kw/  qu (quick) Coffee pot; typewriter
/r/ r (road), wr (wrong), er (her), ir (sir), ur (fur) Chain saw; angry lion; robot; growling dog
/s/ s (say), c[e, i, y] (cent)  Flat tire; hair spray; sizzling bacon
/t/  t (time) Ticking clock; timer; automatic sprinkler
/U/  u (future), u_e (use), ew (few) Long U
/u/ u (thumb), a (about), e (loaded), o (wagon)  I dunno; mother bear; punch in the stomach; foghorn
/v/ v (voice) Electric shaver; airplane; vacuum
/w/  w (wash)  Lariat; fly rod; washing machine
/ks/ or /gz/ x (box, exam) Soda can; grease gun
/y/ y (yes) Sticky mess
/z/  z (zoo), s (nose) Buzzing bee; arc welder; zipper
/OO/ oo (boot), u (truth), u_e (rude), ew (chew) Ghost; howling wolf; owl
/oo/  oo (book), u (put) Lifting weights; chin-up bar
/oi/ oi (soil), oy (toy)  Seal; squeaky gate; spring
/ou/ ou (out), ow (cow)  It hurts; inoculation; sting
/aw/  aw (saw), au (caught), a[l] (tall) Poor thing; crow
/ar/  ar (car)  Spinning tire; grinding gears; gargle
/sh/  sh (ship), ti (nation), ci (special)  Be quiet; watering the lawn
/hw/ wh (white)  Blow out the candle
/ch/   ch (chest), tch (catch) Old train; antique car; chipmunk
/th/  or /th/ th (thick, this) Peeling tape; angry goose; wet shoes
/ng/ ng (sing), n (think) Gong; string bass
/zh/   s (measure) Sawing wood; sander

Voice concepts

Musical instruments

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