Teach Siri Dictation How to Spell Proper Nouns

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Kelly Heffner Wilkerson

Categories: iPhone | View Comments

If you use voice dictation to type on your iPhone, you might have noticed that Siri/dictation uses the "common" spelling of proper nouns. If you use a less common spelling often, you might also be irritated by the constant misspelling. This post (and the included video) show you how to setup a contact to "teach" Siri/dictation how you want to spell that proper noun. In my examples, I make a new contact, but you could also adjust the existing contact to add the "Phonetic" field if your proper noun is a person already in your contacts.

Here is a breakdown of the steps in the video:

  • Add a contact in your iPhone Contacts app with the first name of the word how you want it spelled. If it's a word that should always be capitalized, make sure it is capitalized here. If it shouldn't, make sure the name is written in lowercase.

  • After typing in the first name, scroll to the bottom & tap "add field" then tap "Phonetic First Name". Scroll back up and you'll have a new field under the name of phonetic first name.

  • Tap that phonetic first name field and dictate in the word. This will tell the voice capture how the name "sounds" then tap done to save it. (It could be typed, but dictation ensures you get the spelling matched precisely.)

Update April 2, 2022: A great idea from one of our readers, Susan! She commented:

After reading all your suggestions, with no luck whatsoever, I ended up coming up with a code word for the person whose name is always misspelled. I dictated that into the phonetic spelling field in contacts, et voila! I say crispy, and Siri types Kris.

  • Update November 2017 for iOS 11: After setting the phonetic first name, make sure Siri is enabled, and then go to Settings > General > Keyboard. Turn off Dictation, and then turn it back on again (presumably this is needed to force the new name customization to be picked up). You can see reader David Ernst's comment with this tip below - thanks David!

  • Double-tap the home button to bring up the app switching screen. Swipe up over the Contacts app to force close it. Also, swipe up over whatever app you want to use voice dictation with immediately, to close that too. This forces the apps to reload the settings for dictation ASAP so your fix is ready for use.