Lesson 4

How to say it - /ɪə/ & /eɪ/


Diphthongs are two vowels together. They are different from single vowels because they are sounds made when you move your lips, tongue and mouth; but your mouth stays still in normal vowels. Watch and listen to the animations on the following pages to see this.

These are the characters that represent diphthongs in the phonemic alphabet.

/ɪə/, //, /ʊə/, /ɔɪ/, /əʊ/, //, // & //


/ɪə/ sound

This sound is exactly the same as the word 'ear', without the 'r' pronounced.

= + Be careful! This /ɪ/ is a short sound, but in the diphthong /ɪə/ the first sound is a long sound. The diphthong actually sounds like /iː/ + /ə/.

To make this sound, say /iː/, then move your tongue back and down and your lips less wide to make the /ə/ sound.

The spelling of /ɪə/ is sometimes:

'eer'; eg. 'beer' /'bɪə/

'ear'; eg. 'near' /'nɪə/

'ere'; eg. 'here' /'hɪə/

'ier'; eg. 'prettier' /'prɪtɪə/

'ia'; eg. 'Australia' /ɒs'treɪlɪə/

A common problem for students is the difference between 'beer' and 'bear'.

'beer' /bɪə/
'bear' /beə/ (/eə/ = 'air')

/eɪ/ sound

This diphthong sounds like the name of the letter 'a'.

= + To say this sound, say a long /e/ sound followed by a very short /ɪ/ sound. Two sounds together, and don't say them separately. The /eɪ/ sound is made as you move your mouth. You need to move your tongue up from /e/ to /ɪ/, and close your mouth slightly.

This is a common sound; eg, for the 'ay' in 'pay', the 'a' in 'shade', the 'ai' in 'tail', the 'ei' in 'eight', the 'ea' in 'steak' and the 'ey' in 'Hey!'.

Video of Mouth

Follow the instructions as they appear in the video.

/ɪə/ sound


/eɪ/ sound

Pronunciation Tips

/ɪə/ sound


/eɪ/ and /iː/ sounds