Together with the article on decoding difficulties, this page sets out some common (or not...) words teachers can use to help their students become more aware of how they can sound out more correctly the different sounds corresponding to words containing "ou".
The sequence "ou" is sounded out as /aʊ/ in many words. Normally the phrase “the 'ou' [pronounced /əʊˈjuː/] sound” refers to /aʊ/. However there are many exceptions.
- /aʊ/: about - account - amount - announce - around - background - blouse - bound - boundary - cloud - compound - council - counsel - count - county - discount - doubt - encounter - flounder - foul - found - founder - ground - house - loud - mount - mountain - mouse - mouth - noun - out - outcome - output - pound - profound - proud - round - scout - shout - sound - south - surround - thousand - trout - (verb wind)
- /aʊə/: flour - hour - our (unstressed /ɑːr/) - sour
- BrE - coupon - group - rouge - route - soup - toucan - through - wound (injure, v. & n.) - you - youth
- could - should - would
- country - couple - cousin - double - southern - touch - trouble - young
- with "ough": enough - rough - tough
The following words are pronounced with /ʌr/ in British English and /ɜːr/ in American English. See also IPA phoneme /ɜː/ § /ɜː/ and /ʌ/.
- courage - nourish
- courteous - journalist - journey
- bought - brought - course - court - fought - four - ought - pour - sought - source - thought - your
- tour: Although the dictionary pronunciation of this word is /tʊər/ many native speakers actually say /tɔ:r/. Likewise, dour can be pronounced /dʊər/ or /ˈdaʊər/.
- With "ous": anxious - continuous - curious - dangerous - enormous - famous - nervous - numerous - obvious - previous - religious - serious - various
- With "our",BrE "or"AmE: behaviour - colour - favour - favourite - harbour - honour - humour (but humorist) - labour - neighbour
Two different syllables
- /əʊ ə/: Antinous (favourite of Roman emperor Hadrian)
- /aʊ/: aloud - allowed; council - counsel;
- /aʊə/: flour - flower; our - hour;
- /uː/: route - root;
- /ʊ/: would - wood;
- our /ɑːr, ˈaʊər/ - are /ər, ɑːr/
Non-rhotic accents only
- /ɔː/court - caught; source - sauce
- bought - boat; dough - though; foul - full; mouse - moose/mousse; noun - nun/none
- wound: injury /wuːnd/ - past tense of wind /waʊnd/