I am having trouble hearing the difference between these vowels based on this website for the IPA and would appreciate if someone could tell me the differences and how to pronounce them.

  1. ʊ and ø
  2. ə and ä
  3. æ and ɛ
  4. ɒ, ɔ, and o
  5. ʏ and ɘ
  6. ʌ, a, and ɐ
  7. ɪ and e

I understand this is a lot to ask, so I don’t expect one person to answer all my questions at once. Thanks in advance!

  • What's your native language?
    – dan04
    Dec 13, 2021 at 21:42
  • English, the confusion is obvious to me now and I’m getting better at differentiating them.
    – Foofoo9906
    Dec 14, 2021 at 23:20

2 Answers 2


The IPA has a website with expert productions of the symbols, which will include all of the examples that you are interested. That page is here. The site you linked to is "just some guy", not the International Phonetic Association. You can of course compare his renditions with those of Esling, House, Ladefoged and Wells in the IPA site. More relevant would be focusing on the variation for the performers within a single vowel. I recommend a "majority-rules" approach to the IPA samples, but bear in mind that IPA letters are not "exact points", they are a general range.


This problem is often when in your native language/dialect those sounds are allophonically bound. In other words, for you [ɒ/ɔ/o] are just possible realisation of your native phoneme /o/ or /a/. This need practice to hear difference. And, even if your site not belong to IPA academy, it is still good for you. There are different sounds, don't worry about it: [e] sounds more front, than [ɪ], and more open; others too have differences. Try to hear them!

Upd: I don't understand why my answer is downvoted, but this is really problem (if there no others with physiology, etc.) that many people can't feel differences because their language haven't a certain vowel as outstanding phoneme.

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