Monday, 14 December 2009


The word diphthong is from Greek: it means "two vowels", and we write them as two vowels.
A diphthong is a vowel in which the speaker's tongue changes position while it is being pronounced, so that the vowel sounds like a combination of two other vowels. These are tense vowels, they can be long or short.

Diphthong examples:

/eɪ/ as day, pay, say, lay.

// as sky, buy, cry, tie.

ɔɪ/ as toy, boy.

ɪə/ as beer, hear.

eə/ as bear, pair, hair

ʊə/ as tour, poor.

/əʊ/ as phone, no, go

/ as how, cow

The three major diphthongs in Standard English, which are known as phonemic diphthongs, are (past rode; past p ridden), , and ɔɪ . All three of these diphthongs are very common, and many people simply think of them as single vowels in some contexts. For example, in the English word ride, the i would be transcribed phonetically as . Although it appears as a single letter in our writing, it actually consists of two vowels — if you say the word you should be able to hear the two. Similarly, the word how contains the diphthong at the end, and the word boy contains the diphthong ɔɪ.

English diphthongs chart:

1 comment:

  1. This is a very clear explanation of dipthongs, Nareni - thanks. And I like your chart - where did you get it from? (remember we need to make sure that we reference any sources we use in our blog entries).

    Do you have any suggestions for exercises we might do to help us with the more difficult dipthongs in English?