Phonetics and Phonology

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Pronunciation
Sounds and spelling
There are 26 letters in the English alphabet but there are
44 sounds in the English language. This means that the
number of sounds in a word is not always the same as
the number of letters.
The word 'CAT' has three letters and three sounds but the
word 'CATCH' has five letters but still only three sounds.
If we write these words using phonemic symbols, we can
see exactly how many sounds they have.
CAT is written /k æ t/
CATCH is written /k æ ʧ/
In 'CATCH' the three letters TCH are one sound represented by one phonemic symbol /ʧ/
Try the exercise below to help develop your knowledge of English pronunciation.

Pronunciation Exercise
Sounds and spelling

Exercise
Look at the words below and put them into the correct column based on the number of sounds.
Clue:
The number of letters and the number of sounds is always different in these words.

horse

through

judge

enough

sugar

caught

island

daughter

knowledge

cupboard

cow

know

business

singing

more

carrot

chemist

treasure

thinking

laugh

heart

singer

thorough

door

check

2 sounds

3 sounds

4 sounds

5 sounds

Pronunciation
Sounds and spelling

6 sounds

© BBC Learning English
Page 2 of 3
bbclearningenglish.com

Pronunciation Exercise
Sounds and spelling

ANSWERS
2 sounds

3 sounds

4 sounds

5 sounds

6 sounds

cow
/k aʊ/

horse
/h ɔ: s/

singer
/s ɪ ŋ ǝ/

carrot
/k æ r ə t/

chemist
/k e m ɪ s t/

know
/n əʊ/

caught
/k ɔ: t/

daughter
/d ɔ: t ə/

island
/aɪ l ə n d/

business
/b ɪ z n ɪ s/

door
/d ɔ:/

heart
/h ɑ: t/

thorough
/ɵ ʌ r ə/

knowledge
/n ɒ l ɪ ʤ/

thinking
/ɵ ɪ ŋ k ɪ ŋ/

more
/m ɔ:/

through
/ɵ r u:/

enough
/ɪ n ʌ f/

treasure
/t r e Ʒ ə/

judge
/ʤ ʌ ʤ/

sugar
/ʃ ʊ g ə/

singing
/s ɪ ŋ ɪ ŋ/

laugh
/l ɑ: f/

cupboard
/k ʌ b ə d/

check
/ʧ e k/

Pronunciation
Sounds and spelling

© BBC Learning English
Page 3 of 3
bbclearningenglish.com

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