How to Write Phonetics

Writing phonetics helps students learn the spelling of difficult words.

Phonetic spelling represents the sounds of a word’s pronunciation by having each letter represent the same sound. English spelling requires each letter or combination of letters to represent different sounds because of the complex history of word origins. Many schools use phonetics as a learning tool for students to learn difficult words. Dictionary editors have developed standardized alphabets, such as the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), that apply to all languages.

Sound out the word that you want to write. Pronounce it syllable by syllable. Write out each syllable as it sounds. Leave a space between each syllable. For example, you can write the word “phonetics” as “fo neh tiks”.

Say the word that you want to write quickly. Listen for where you stress the word. Capitalize each letter of the syllable that you stressed on your phonetic spelling. For example, in the word “phonetics” the second syllable receives the stress so the phonetic spelling would look like “fo NEH tiks”.

Consult the IPA if you need to present your phonetic spelling in a formal academic setting. Obtain a copy of the Handbook of the International Phonetic Association. Follow the instructions and illustrations in the handbook to properly transcribe each sound according to the IPA.

Sean Butner has been writing news articles, blog entries and feature pieces since 2005. His articles have appeared on the cover of "The Richland Sandstorm" and "The Palimpsest Files." He is completing graduate coursework in accounting through Texas A&M University-Commerce. He currently advises families on their insurance and financial planning needs.