How is फ Really Pronounced?

Something that has been confusing me:

In textbooks and official sources, फ is described as an aspirated "p", or something like the "ph" in "upheaval". It is given an IPA symbol of "pʰ", e.g. here:

Online pronunciation databases seem to back this up:

However, when I listen to friends/other native speakers pronounce words like फल or फिर, they seem to pronounce it as "f", like "fal" and "fir". If it makes a difference, almost all my friends are from Delhi.

What is right here? Are both right, and this is a matter of regional accents? Is the apsirated p technically correct but not used in practice? Something else?

Appreciate any thoughts y'all have!!!

February 15, 2019


After some research, I've found that traditionally it is pronounced as an aspirated 'p'. However, loanwords from Persian, English, and Portuguese all make use of the 'f' sound. At this point, the 'f' sound has became well established in Hindi and is slowly replacing the aspirated 'p' even by native speakers. In fact, the same thing happened with Greek's 'phi' sound.

February 16, 2019

You're right. The anglicization of Hindi is impacting its pronunciations . Although I still pronounce it as PU-H

February 17, 2019

हिंदी मेरी मूल भाषा है, और मैं आपके लिए पुष्टि कर सकता हूं कि यह एफ की तरह उच्चारित है।(Hindi is my native language and I can confirm it is pronounced like "F".)

February 15, 2019

In your view, is there a difference between फ and फ़ ?

February 15, 2019

the first one is supposed to be pronounced "ph" (im a native hindi speaker and this is how they teach you in school) and the second one was added to have a distinct "f" sound.

with the first one you can pronounce it as "ph" or "f" and it wouldnt really matter. it usually changes based on region and in delhi and other urban areas, yes, most people use the "f" way.

for the second one you must use the "f" pronunciation. this usually tells the word isn't originally from Hindi

February 20, 2019

धन्यवाद !

If you had to speculate, as a self proclaimed geek, why do you think textbooks and the Wikipedia guide to Hindi phonology says its an aspirated "p" when native speakers don't see to use it this way?

February 15, 2019

well, my family and I use it that way, and If you dont want to, then gfu

February 15, 2019

I definitely want to do it your way, since I haven't met a real Hindi speaker who does it any other way :)

Honestly I'm just more curious than anything.

February 15, 2019

फ​ is pronounced like an aspirated p, and फ़​ is pronounced like an f. However most dotted versions of letters more often than not are written without the dot, so to most native Hindi speakers फ correlates to both sounds. However when you see फ़, you know for sure it's an F. This happens as well with ज(J) and ज़(Z)​, words like ज़िंदगी will often be misspelled to जिंदगी, and because of this it's often pronounced like the latter as well. A good example of the letter given here is the word फिर​, through talking with friends, listening to songs, watching movies, I've heard it pronounced many times as phir and many times as fir, it just depends on the person saying it. There isn't one right answer, there are two common pronunciations.

February 16, 2019

I come from a Punjabi/Hindi speaking household and in my experience it is the opposite. Words that originally contain फ like फल (Fruit) and फिर (Then or Again) are always pronounced as phal and phir respectively. फ़ can pronounced as both FA and PHA while फ is always PHA. When in doubt, pronounce it as the non-nuqta version. (Nuqta = ़) Likewise, it is common to see many write and pronounce क़ ख़ ग़ ज़ ड़ ढ़ as क ख ग ज ड ढ but not the other way around.

While words like फ़रवरी (February) are correctly pronounced as farvari, however, rural folks will remove the nuqta and pronounce it as फरवरी (pharvari). So, फ can only be FA when it was originally supposed to be फ़ but they have removed the nuqta.

February 18, 2019

I don't know about that but in English, unless a 'p' is preceded by an 's' as in 'speaker' or 'aspirated', it is always aspirated.

February 15, 2019

the correct pronunciation is ph however many pronounce it f. F is an Urdu letter which is ph with a nukta. About the accent people from different regions pronounce the letters according to their atmosphere and their dialects. Sounding like a native may make you sound of a particular region in India. You should go for the correct pronounciation.

February 16, 2019

Yes it is like F

February 15, 2019

I hope this serves your purpose.

February 20, 2019

It depends on the word. Also different people pronounce it differently due to accent too. The correct way is ph. Not a p not an f, but something in the middle

February 21, 2019
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