Diphthongs: How to pronounce the Diphthong Sounds

In this video is all about the Diphthongs.


Diphthongs are the sounds represented by the symbols in red. There are 8 of them on the phonetic chart and these are the main ones that you need to know about. So what is a Diphthong? Diphthongs are a type of vowel sound that is made up of a combination of two single vowels or monophthongs within the same syllable.

Each column is arranged according to the second sound in the Diphthong. In the first column each sound ends with a /ə/ sound

  • /ɪə/
  • /ʊə/
  • /eə/

In the second column each sound ends with an /ɪ/ or /i:/ sound.

  • /eɪ/
  • /ɔɪ/
  • /aɪ/

And in the third column each sound ends with an /ʊ/ or /u:/ sound.

  • /əʊ/
  • /aʊ/


Remember that the key to pronunciation is physical, and the Diphthongs are a combination of 2 vowel sounds. So your mouth will change position as you say the sound. 

Lets look at all the Diphthongs.

First of all lets look at /ɪə/.

This is a combination of /ɪ/ and /ə/, but it’s pronounced within one syllable, /ɪə/. The /ɪ/ sound is on the top row of the vowels section of the phonetic chart and the /ə/ is on the second row. The main physical difference between the sounds on the top row and the sounds on the second row is that your mouth should be a little more open for the second row sounds.

So as you say/ɪə/, you mouth should open a little. Starting on the /ɪ/ and finishing on the/ə/, /ɪə/ As in the words;

  • Year
  • Here
  • Really

Lets look at the next one. This is a combination of /ʊ/ and /ə/, /ʊə/Again your mouth should open a little as you go from the first sound to the second sound. Starting on the /ʊ/ and finishing on the /ə/. /ʊə/. As in the words;

  • Hour
  • Security
  • and During

The next sound is a combination of /e/ and /ə/, /eə/This time both the vowels are on the same row so the mouth does not open, the main difference is the shape of our lips and the origin of the sound in our throat. Starting on the /e/ and finishing on the/ə/, /eə/. As in the words;

  • There
  • Where
  • Parent

Moving onto the second column, now each sound ends with the vowel sound /ɪ/, although sometimes the sound is longer like /i:/, In reality it is somewhere between the two, it depends on the word.

When we say the diphthongs sound in isolation, we will normally say it like the longer form.

  • they
  • point
  • I

The first sound in this column is/eɪ/ which is a combination of /e/ and /ɪ/ or /i:/This time we need to close our mouth a little as we say the sound. /eɪ/. As in the words;

  • They
  • Say
  • Make

The next sound is point/ɔɪ/ which is a combination of /ɔ:/ and /ɪ/ or /i:/They are on different rows again but the shape of our lips and the position of our tongue also change a lot because we are going from the right all the way to the left. Going from rounded lips or to unrounded. Starting on the/ɔ:/ and finishing on the /ɪ/ or /i:/: /ɔɪ/. As in the words;

  • Point
  • Boy
  • Oil

The next sound is /aɪ/ which is a combination of /æ/ and /ɪ/ or /i:/Now we are going from the bottom row to the top so our mouth starts wide open and closes as we say the sound.

Starting on the /æ/ and finishing on the/ɪ/ or /i:/. As in the words;

  • I
  • By
  • Time

The next sound is /əʊ/ which is a combination of  /ə/ and /ʊ/ or the longer /u:/The main difference here is the shape of the lips, rounding a little as we say the sound. Starting on the /ə/ and finishing on the /ʊ/ or /u:/ sound. As in the words;

  • Go
  • Know
  • Only

The last of the diphthongs that we are going to look at is /aʊ/ which is a combination of /æ/ and /ʊ/ or the longer /u:/Now our mouth is closing and the shape of the lips is changing at the same time, rounding a little as we say the sound.

Starting on the have and finishing on the would or /ʊ/ or /u:/.  As in the words;

  • Out
  • How
  • Down

So that is all the diphthongs. Thanks for watching. I hope you found it useful. If you have any questions or comments get in touch.

4 Responses to “Diphthongs: How to pronounce the Diphthong Sounds”

  1. Dr Nancy Anashia March 5, 2016 at 12:34 pm #

    My name is Dr. Anashia. i would like to thank you for this page. It is really assisting me as i teach second year students Introduction to phonetics and phonology. Thank you for simplifying everything.

  2. Ahmet April 30, 2016 at 12:17 pm #

    My name is ahmet, I would like to thank you very very much…This is the best pronunciation lesson I have ever had. The sounds are explained very clearly, naturally and understandably. Many many thanks again…

  3. Alejandro Ibarria Morell February 9, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

    thank you so much for the value of this web site, it is a treasure to phonetics and phonology

  4. gideon May 26, 2017 at 1:03 pm #

    for each of the diphthong what is the transcribe in each phonetic to reveal the sound of /ei/, /i2/, /au/,/ai/,/2u/.

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