A common accent error is using the tense high back vowel /u/ in place of the lax high back vowel /ʊ/. Both vowels are rounded, and both can be spelled with the letters "oo," which creates confusion. Use the videos and lessons below to help you correctly differentiate and pronounce these two vowel sounds.
In the video above, we look at the lax vowel /ʊ/. It is usually spelled with letter u, but in a few common words, it is spelled with "oo." In the video below, we look at how to know whether a word with the letters "oo" says /u/ or /ʊ/.
Additional website practice for words spelled with "oo": https://www.speechmodification.com/free/how-to-pronounce-words-with-oo
In this video, we look at the vowel sounds of American English. First, anchor words, then minimal pairs. You can use this lesson to help listen for the differences between the vowel sounds.
Even though we spell "dot com" with the letter O, we don't have a rounded "O" sound in this phrase. Make sure you use vowel /ɑ/ in this and other words with letter O in American English. It can help to re-write the words with a different spelling to help you pronounce them correctly. Think "daht cahm."
The letter A in English can be used to represent several different vowel sounds. The most common vowels spelled with A are /æ/ as in black cat, /ɔ/ as in caught law, and /ə/ as in such fun. You can get more help for the vowels in English by checking out the vowel category for this practice site, and on our vowels playlist.
When we use "a" as a word in English, as in a word or a friend, we pronounce it as "uh," vowel schwa /ə/.
Letter "A" is pronounced as "ay," /eɪ/, with a long stretched vowel. In words, the letter a can represent many different vowel sounds. Here are some rules for the most common pronunciations of letter A:
See more about spelling rules for vowels here.
In other contexts, letter A can represent many other vowel sounds. Learn even more about letter sounds vs. spelling, and how to pronounce all of the letters and sounds in our online course, the Sounds of American English.
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