IPA phoneme /ʊ/

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foot /fʊt/

In English, both in Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phonetic symbol /ʊ/ corresponds to the vowel sound in words like "foot", "put", "pull" and "could".

Common words[edit]

This phoneme is very uncommon. Below there is a list that includes all common words with /ʊ/ (it excludes derivative words such as football or wolves).

  • with "oo": book - cook - foot - good - hood - hook - look - shook - stood - took - wood - wool - whoops!
  • with "o": wolf - woman
  • with "ou": could - would - should
  • with "u": bull - bullet - bully - bush - butcher - cushion - full - pudding - pull - push - put - sugar
  • homophones: wood - would.

Less common words[edit]

  • with "oo": brook - crook - rook - soot
  • with "o": bosom
  • with "u": bulbul - bushel - bulletin - chutzpah - cuckoo - fulfilBrE - fulfillAmE - pulpit

Spelling anomaly[edit]

  • Worcester /ˈwʊstər/

These words don't rhyme[edit]

  • foot - boot; full - null; would - mould;BrE wolf - golf; woman - Roman;

/ʊ/ followed by /r/[edit]

Both in Received Pronunciation and in General American when /ʊ/ is followed by /r/ in the same syllable, a diphthong is pronounced: IPA phoneme /ʊə/. Cure is [kjʊər].

In Received Pronunciation but not in General American there is a difference between /ʊər/ and /ʊr/ when these sequences are followed by a vowel: mural is [ˈmjʊərəl]BrE and guru is [ˈgʊruː].BrE In General American there is no difference: some people pronounce [ˈmjʊərəl] and [ˈgʊəruː] and others [ˈmjʊrəl] and [ˈgʊruː]. Since the difference between [ʊər]AmE and [ʊr]AmE is predictable, phoneticians say that in American English there is no phoneme /ʊə/, only phoneme /ʊ/.

See also: Decoding exercises: "urV" and "urrV"

Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1[edit]

Preconceived ideas and other interferences from L1 obviously interfere in many cases with how students perceive - and pronounce - sounds/words in English. The following section aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.


See Pronunciation exercises: /uː/ vs /ʊ/ § Spanish.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]