English Diphthongs and Triphthongs

• Diphthong: Sounds which consist of a movement or glide from one vowel to another.
• Pure Vowel: A vowel which remains constant, it does not glide.
• Diphthongs have the same length as the long vowels.
• The first part (sound) is much longer and stronger than the second part.
• Example: aɪ in the words ‘eye’ and ‘ɪ ’ consists of the ‘a’ vowel, and only in about the last quarter of the diphthong, does the glide to ‘ɪ’ becomes noticeable.

English has 8 diphthongs.
Centering diphthong:
1. three (3) ending in ‘ə’ : ɪə, eə, ʊə
Closing diphthong
2. three (3) ending in ‘ɪ’: eɪ, aɪ, ɔɪ
3. two (2) ending in ‘ʊ’: əʊ, aʊ

• ɪə : beard, weird, fierce, ear, beer, tear
• eə: aired, cairn, scarce, bear, hair,
• ʊə: moored, tour, lure, sure, pure
• eɪ : paid, pain, face, shade, age, wait, taste, paper
• aɪ: tide, time, nice, buy, bike, pie, eye, kite, fine
• ɔɪ: void, loin, voice, oil, boil, coin, toy, Roy
• əʊ: load, home, most, bone, phone, boat, bowl
• aʊ: loud, gown, house, cow, bow, brow, grouse



• A triphthong is a glide from one vowel to another and the to a third, all produced rapidly and without interruption. For example, a careful pronunciation of the word ‘hour’ begins with a vowel quality similar to ‘ɑ:’, goes on to ‘ʊ’ then ends in ‘ə’.
• It says /aʊə/
• Triphthong : 5 closing diphthongs with ‘ə’ added on the end.
– eɪ + ə = eɪə . as in layer, player
– aɪ + ə = aɪə. as in lire, fire
– ɔɪ + ə = ɔɪə, as in loyal, royal
– əʊ + ə = əuə, as in lower, mower
– aʊ + ə = auə, as in power, hour.


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