O

From Teflpedia

O (/əʊ/ lower case o) is the 15th letter of the Latin alphabet, as used in English, and the 4th vowel letter.

O o

Decoding[edit | edit source]

ɔː

force /fɔːrs/

ɔː

north /nɔːrθ/

əʊ

hope /həʊp/

ɒ

lot /lɒt/

The letter O (lower case o, pronounced /əʊ/), as most vowel letters in English, had initially four main pronunciations; however in Received Pronunciation and in General American they are currently three.

Short o spelling, IPA phoneme /ɔː/,AmE as in cloth,AmE or longAmE

It also can be pronounced /ʌ/ as in love plus other, less common pronunciations, sometimes in combination with other letters, and, of course, it can be used as schwa. There are some helpful rules (to be taken with the habitual pinch of salt).


Distinctions by dialect[edit | edit source]

Teaching the letter O is one of those cases in which teachers, whichever their preferences might be, need to point out the differences between Received Pronunciation and General American. The best known of these differences is that RP /ɒ/ is normally GA /ɑː/. Also RP /ɒ/ in some cases is GA /ɔː/ as in cloth and long. Also, many North Americans pronounce /ɔː/BrE as /ɑː/; see also Cot-caught merger.

Dialect lot sorry cloth thought north forest glory
Received Pronunciation [ɒ] [ɒ] [ɒ] [ɔː] [ɔː] [ɒ] [ɔː]
General American [ɑː] [ɑː] [ɔː] [ɔː] [ɔː] [ɔː] [ɔː]
Cot-caught merger [ɑː] [ɑː] [ɑː] [ɑː] [ɔː] [ɔː] [ɔː]

As /ɒ/[edit | edit source]

See main article IPA phoneme /ɒ/.
See also So-called “short o” and Decoding exercises: "orV" and "orrV"

  • before final consonants: bomb - bond - box - drop - hot - job - lot - not - on - shop - stop - top - upon
acrossBrE - alongBrE - clothBrE - costBrE - dogBrE - longBrE - lostBrE - offBrE
  • before double consonant or "ck": block - clock - coffee - follow - occupy - offerBrE - possible - shock
  • before one consonant: body - goneBrE - holiday - model - poverty - probably - product
  • before two different consonants: compact (adj., n.) - oftenBrE - problem

As /əʊ/[edit | edit source]

See main article IPA phoneme /əʊ/.

  • with magic e: alone - bone - phone - stone - whole - zone
  • with final e: noble
  • mid position: global - local - mobile - motivate - notable - slogan - soldier
  • ending in consonants: bold - both - don't - fold - folk /fəʊk/ - ghost - gold - gross - hold - host - most - old - post - roll - poll - won't
  • ending in "o": ago - also - buffalo - espresso - go - judo - no - potato - radio - so - taco - tomato - tuxedo - video

As /ɔː/[edit | edit source]

See also Decoding exercises: "orV" and "orrV"

  • afford - born - force - form - horse - important - north - order - report - short - sort - store - storm - support - sword
  • AmE: across - along - chocolate - cloth - cost - dog - gone - long - lost - off - offer - often

As /ʌ/[edit | edit source]

See main article IPA phoneme /ʌ/.

  • O adjacent to "m": accomplishBrE - Colombia - come - comfort - comfortable /ˈkʌmftəbəl, ˈkʌmfərtəbəl/ - company - compass - mother - some - stomach
  • O adjacent to "m" and "n": among - Monday - money - mongrel - monk - monkey - month
  • O adjacent to "n": another - confrontation - done - front - honey - London - none - nothing - one /wʌn/ - once /wʌns/ - onion /ˈʌnjən/ - son - sponge - ton - tongue - tonne
  • O adjacent to "n" and "w": won - wonder - wonderful
  • O adjacent to "v": above - Coventry /ˈkʌvəntriː, ˈkɒvəntriː/ - cover - covet - discover - dove (bird) - glove - government - love - lover - oven - shovel - slovenly
  • Other: brother - colorAmE - colourBrE - dozen - other - thorough /ˈθʌrə,BrE ˈθɜːrəʊAmE/

As /ɜː/[edit | edit source]

  • attorney - word - work - world - worm - worse - worship - worst - worth

As /uː/[edit | edit source]

  • do - lose - move - tomb - two - who - whose - womb

As /ʊ/[edit | edit source]

  • bosom - woman - wolf

As /ɪ/[edit | edit source]

  • women

As schwa[edit | edit source]

See main article schwa.

  • weak forms: for - from - of - some - to
  • at beginning (including many verbs): object (verb) - observe - occasion - occur - official - oppose
  • as part of suffix -tion: nation - motion
  • as part of suffix -sion: version - vision
  • other: antonym - broccoli - compact (verb) - director - ecology - forbid - gorilla

Combinations[edit | edit source]

As "oa"[edit | edit source]

See main article Decoding exercises: "oa"

  • as /ɔː/: abroad, boar, board, broad, oar, roar, soar
  • as /əʊ/: approach, boat, coach, coal, coat, coast, float, foam, goal, goat, load, loan, oats, road, roast, throat, toast


As "oe"[edit | edit source]

See main article: Decoding exercises: "oe"

  • /əʊ/: Joe - mistletoe - oboe - toe
plurals: does (noun) - mosquitoes - potatoes
  • /ʌ/: does (verb)
  • /uː/: canoe - shoe
  • /əʊə/: poem - poet - poetry

As "oi"[edit | edit source]

See main article: IPA phoneme /ɔɪ/

  • /ɔɪ/: choice - oil

As "oo"[edit | edit source]

See main article: Decoding exercises: "oo"
  • /uː/: boot - choose - cool - fool - loose - moon - pool - root - school - soon - stool - tool
  • /ʊ/: book - cook - foot - good - hook - look - shook - took - wool - whoops!
  • /ʌ/: blood - flood

As "ou"[edit | edit source]

See main article Decoding exercises: "ou"

  • /aʊ/: about - cloud - house - mountain - mouth - out - round
  • /aʊə/: flour - hour - our - sour
  • /ʌ/: country - cousin - touch - trouble - young
  • /ɔː/: bought - course - court - fought - source - thought
  • /əʊ/: although - dough - shoulder - soul - though
  • /uː/: group - soup - through - you - youth
  • /ʊ/: could - would - should
  • /ɜː/: journalist - journey
  • /ə/: ending in -ourBrE: colour - neighbour - vapour
ending in -ous: dangerous - enormous - famous - obvious - religious - serious

As "ow"[edit | edit source]

See main article: Decoding exercises: "ow"

  • /əʊ/: know - row - window
  • /aʊ/: brown - down - towel
  • /ɒ/: knowledge

As "oy"[edit | edit source]

See main article: IPA phoneme /ɔɪ/

  • /ɔɪ/: boy - destroy - employ - enjoy - Joyce - royal - toy

Silent "o"[edit | edit source]

  • colonel, jeopardy, Geoffrey, laboratory,BrE Leonard, leopard, people
  • varisyllabic words ("o" is silent or it sounds /ə/): catholic, chocolate, corporate, comfortable /ˈkʌmfərtəbəl, ˈkʌmftəbəl, ˈkʌmftərbəlAmE/, Deborah, favoriteAmE/favourite,BrE history, incorporate (adj.), laboratory,AmE temporary

Homophones[edit | edit source]

  • /əʊ/: lone - loan; no - know; poll - pole; roll - role; so - sew - sow; sole - soul;
  • /ʌ/: none - nun; one - won; some - sum; son - sun;
  • /ɔː/ all accents: bored - board; or - oar - ore; worn - warn;
only in some accents: shore - sure; stork - stalk

Heteronyms[edit | edit source]

  • compact (noun, verb)

Variant pronunciations[edit | edit source]

  • /ɒ,AmE ʌBrE/: accomplice, accomplish
  • /ɜː,AmE ʌBrE/: thorough /ˈθɜːrəʊ,AmE ˈθʌrəBrE/, worry

Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1[edit | edit source]

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

Spanish[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]