The English letter U is a vowel and has several pronunciations.

The table below lists the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) symbol and the standard (std) symbol used to describe the sounds of the letter U.  The standard symbol is used in many English dictionaries. The phonetic transcription of each word is in parentheses.

Click on the sample words to listen to the sound files. Pay attention to the sound of the letters in bold.

name IPA std examples
short u ŭ us
long u u ū   Tuesday
schwa   focus
  ju unite

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3 Responses

  1. Тшсу 18 April 2014 / 07:49

    AFAIK, the ‘U’ can also be pronounced as ‘Ɛ’, in words Bury / Burial and in british pronunciation of Blur.
    Could you shed some light onto this phenomena, i.e. tell us in what cases should U be uttered as Ɛ?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. lkl 18 April 2014 / 07:58

    Interesting, I’d never thought about this. I doubt there are many others, other than “blurry” in British English.

  3. Тшсу 3 June 2014 / 01:15

    Well you can count Bursary and Chorus in as well as the british way of addressing mr. Burns, the more the… Burrier.

    But wait, there’s more if you’re not too… Busy! That’s right. how about the all-forgotten ‘ɪ’ pronunciation of the U?

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