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English Pronunciation: Sounds with O

The American O sounds can be difficult. There are 3 distinct sounds, the short O as in "hot," the  long O as in "boat" and the reduced O, the phonetic name is the schwa sound, as in "above" (say "abuv"). The basic rules are these:

  • use short O for simple spellings in words or word parts
  • use long O  with complex spellings, i.e. a silent vowel near the O
  • use the reduced O (the "u" as in "up") sometimes when O is not stressed
  • most exceptions to the above rules will be found in very common words

Overall, the best thing to do is realize that O has three sounds. Listen carefully to American English speakers and take the time to look up the pronunciation of words.
 


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Short O
Long O
Reduced O
beyond
bone
above
blog
bowl
blood
body
bold
labor
brought
broke
brother
complement
comb
company
conference
according
complete
confident
course
country
cost
cold
cover
dog
don't
discover
dollars
donate
develop
holiday
home
honey
involve
innovate
income
job
joke
major
loss
alone
tailor
lot
load
love
modern
motivate
month
office
order
effort
often
old
occur
online
only
other
possible
post
possess
probably
probe
police
problem
prose
procedure
product
program
position
profit
protein
potential
rock
road
religion
soft
scone
some
solid
sold
solidity
solve
social
society
stock
stole
solution
thought
though
thorough
toss
toast
today
wok
wore
work

Notes on Other Spellings and Sounds

AU/AW - usually has a short O sound: audio, cause, auto, launch, draw, saw, law, awful
OU/OW (double vowel as in "ouch"): down, flower, vowel, out, south, accounting, round, sound, pound, found, about, count, brown, thousand
OI/OY (double vowel, long O to long E): point, boy
OO (spelling of a long U sound): boot, food. Or use relaxed sound as in "book." Study these sounds.

To perfect your O sounds, try these words that have 2 different O sounds: download, follow, broccoli, common, thorough, outrageous, commodity, outsource, opposite, cholesterol, coronary, technology, economy, opponent, proposal



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