Help Siri Pronounce Your Contact Names With Phonetic Spelling Hints [iOS Tips]

Help Siri Pronounce Your Contact Names With Phonetic Spelling Hints [iOS Tips]

As a person with a funkily spelled last name, at least for English speakers, I appreciate that Siri tries to say my name, but I never really assumed she could pronounce it correctly. If you’re having trouble with Siri’s pronunciation of any of your contact names, here’s an easy trick to get her to say it correctly.

Tap on the Contacts icon on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, and tap into the contact you want to add a phonetic spelling to. Tap on the Edit button in the upper right hand corner, and then scroll to the very bottom of the contact info. Tap Add Field, then choose Phonetic First Name or Phonetic Last Name. Fill in the field with a phonetic spelling of the name you want Siri to pronounce.

Once you’ve done the above, then Siri should be able to pronounce the contact name correctly. Use combinations of letters that make the best sense for phonetic spelling, and you’ll get better results. It should also help when you ask Siri to call or text that contact, as it should use the phonetic spelling when listening to your voice, as well.

  • dcj001

    “funkily spelled last name?”

    C’est Français. N’est pas?

    • Lev Raphael

      C’est “N’est-ce pas.” :-)

  • GregMcD

    While this trick does work, it is defeated by a long-standing bug in the Address Book or Contacts app which causes contacts to then be sorted by the phonetic spelling instead of the last name or first name field. For example, the last name “Enjarque” is pronounced with an “A” at the beginning and if you fill in the phonetic field it will appear in the sorted list of last names that begin with A instead of E. Not a good thing.

  • technochick

    While this trick does work, it is defeated by a long-standing bug in the Address Book or Contacts app which causes contacts to then be sorted by the phonetic spelling instead of the last name or first name field.

    With a family that is mainly Irish (and fond of Gaelic names) and Welsh I use the phonetic fields all the time and it has never sorted by them. It does first and last name only. I wonder I haven’t seen this bug because the information was entered from my first iPhone and carried over via mobile me etc. I haven’t had to add anything new since like iOS 3 or leopard

  • AlexMarques92

    I have this, but even if the “Unified” contacts have the phonetic spelling, it is still defeated by Siri looking at the actual name, and not the phonetic spelling

  • BCh

    Very helpful, Siri was unable to pronounce the last names of many of my contacts, now she can.

  • canintex

    While this trick does work, it is defeated by a long-standing bug in the Address Book or Contacts app which causes contacts to then be sorted by the phonetic spelling instead of the last name or first name field. For example, the last name “Enjarque” is pronounced with an “A” at the beginning and if you fill in the phonetic field it will appear in the sorted list of last names that begin with A instead of E. Not a good thing.

    I thought I had found an awesome tool too, months ago but then ran into the same issue of the iPhone Contacts being sorted by the phonetic spelling, which is a major enough bug for me not to use it.

  • Paul Burt

    I can confirm that this doesn’t work. I had to change the Last Name field for Siri to recognize it. The phonetic field didn’t do anything except sort by it.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, Creative Screenwriting, Shelf-Awareness, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef, and send him a cookie once in a while; he'll really appreciate it.

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