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Using the phonemic chart

Now let’s look at a more difficult word.

Look at the difference between the way the word ‘independent’ is spelt and how it is said.

Independent is spelt 'I n d e p e n d e n t' but it is pronounced /lndlpendənt/

If the word ‘independent’ was spelt the same way it was said, it would be spelt indipendunt.

One of the most important sounds we need to focus on for this word is:


We use the /ə/ sound a lot in English. It is sometimes spelt ‘er’ in words like ‘weather’, ‘brother’ and ‘computer’ or ‘ar’ as in ‘wizard’, but any unstressed vowel (a, e, i, o, u) can be pronounced as this sound.

Look at the sounds in the words below to help you pronounce the word ‘independent’ correctly.

The word in a table spelt individually as I n d I p e n d e n t underneath each letter is a word that helps pronounce as Sit, Man, Did, Sit, Pen, Egg, Man, Did, Agree, Man, Tick

Now listen and check:


Is this how you thought the word should sound?

Look at the following examples. Where do you think the /ə/ sound is?

  1. reflection
  2. lecture
  3. genre
  4. independence
  5. autonomous

You can download the answers from the downloads section below.

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This article is from the free online course:

English for Academic Study

Coventry University