Each letter in Ishmodnarok consists of a bar with one or two descending stems, representing unvoiced or voiced letters, respectively. The point of articulation is indicated by a small horizontal tongue (stops) or a tongue ending in a circle (continuants) except for alveolar consonants, in which the stem is either unadorned (stops) or has a circle placed directly under the bar, next to the stem (continuants). Nasals are indicated with a wavy bar placed atop the usual bar. In standard imperial form, the stems are straight and vertical, but in more flowing calligraphic forms, the stems curve away to the left.Vowels are all voiced and thus have two stems, with a dot (unrounded vowels) or circle (rounded vowels) placed according to the position of the tongue as follows: front = left, back = right, close = above the bar, mid = just below the bar, open = at the base of the stem. Ishmodnarok can thus be used to represent a wide range of vowel sounds. Gyrish is usually written with seven vowels, which are generally similar to those of Spanish or Swahili: i (as in Spanish si (rhymes with tree)), e (as in bed), a (as in mama), u (as in true), long o (as in go and Ishmodarok) and short o (as in pop, Omland and Ishmod). The vowel represented by y is a rounded close front vowel, like French u or German ü.
The consonants are generally similar to English, though several sounds represented as digraphs in English are represented by single letters in Ishmodnarok: th as in thin, dh as in this, ch as in church, sh as in sheep, zh as in azure. Additional consonants include kh, as in Scottish loch, gh, a voiced fricative velar consonant similar to French r, as in rouge, and the glottal stop ' as in Hawai'i.