Difference Between Phonetics and phonology

In this article, explore what is the difference between phonetics and phonology. Both Phonetics and Phonology are two fields of study in linguistics that deal with speech sounds. Both seem to overlap in recent years, and therefore create some confusion regarding their meanings. Let’s study the Difference between Phonetics and Phonology.


What is The Difference Between Phonetics and phonology?

Phonetics and phonology are subfields of linguistics that deal with the study of sounds in human language, but they have distinct focuses and goals. Let’s dive into the depth to understand the meaning of these terms.


Phonetics Definition:

The linguistics branch that deals with the physical properties of speech of sounds is called phonetics. It deals with how they are produced, transmitted, and perceived by the human auditory system. Phonetics is concerned with the description and classification of speech sounds, regardless of their linguistic function.

Phonology Definition

The branch of linguistics that deals with the abstract, mental representations and rules governing the sounds of a particular language is called phonology. Phonology is concerned with the way sounds function in a particular language and how they are used to convey meaning.


  • Phonetics focuses on the articulatory, acoustic, and auditory aspects of speech sounds. It analyzes the sound properties.
  • Phonology focuses on the abstract, cognitive aspects of speech sounds in a specific language. It studies how sound patterns in a language, including the rules and constraints that govern their distribution and alternations.

Units of Study:

  • Phonetics studies individual speech sounds or segments, known as phonemes.
  • Phonology studies phonemes, which are abstract units of sound in a particular language, as well as their relationships and rules for combining them.


  • Phonetics uses a wide range of tools and techniques, including spectrograms, articulatory analysis, and acoustic measurements to analyze speech sounds.
  • Phonology employs formal theories, rules, and abstract representations to describe and analyze the underlying structure of a language’s sound system.

Difference Between Cross-Linguistic And Language-Specific:

Phonetics is more cross-linguistic, as it deals with the universal properties of speech sounds that apply to all languages. Phonology is language-specific, as it focuses on the particular sound patterns and rules of individual languages.

Difference between Phonetics and Phonology With Examples



It deals with the physical description of sounds. Phonology is concerned with the description of the interrelationship and function of sound.
Phonetics is the physics of sound. Phonology is the psychology of sound.
Phonetics examines the speech sounds of a language in a generalized and idealized way. phonology examines the functional aspect of speech sounds in that language.


Phonetics and phonology are closely related to each other and therefore it is often recommended not to divide them on the basis of strict rules or points.

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