Pronunciation exercises: "of" vs "off"

From Teflpedia

v

ov /əv/

f

off /ɒf/

Many students believe the words "of" and "off" are pronounced the same. However "of" ends in /v/ and "off" ends in /f/.

Received Pronunciation[edit]

In Received Pronunciation both words have the same vowel: "of" is /ɒv/ and "off" is /ɒf/. But "of" has a weak form, /əv/, which is much more common.

As in most cases, to go from a strong form to a weak form the vowel is replaced by /ə/.

General American[edit]

In General American the strong form of "of" is (probably)[1] derived from the weak form. That's why its strong form is /ʌv/.

The word "off" is pronounced /ɔːf/ with the same vowel as many other words such as "cloth" and "long". See Phoneme /ɔː/ in General American.

Summary[edit]

"Of"
weak form
  "Of"
strong form
 "Off" 
Received Pronunciation /əv/ /ɒv/ /ɒf/
General American /əv/ /ʌv/ /ɔːf/

Arrows indicate the direction of the derivation.

Homophones[edit]

The weak forms of "of" and "have" are the same: /əv/.

The words /ˈkʊd əv/ are correctly spelled "could've", but a confused writer may spell *"could of" because the pronunciation is the same. The same happens with other contractions such as "should've", "would've", etc.

/v/ devoicing[edit]

  • “of course” can be pronounced /əv kɔːrs/ or /əf kɔːrs/

Informal spelling[edit]

Most dictionaries have helluva /ˈheləvə/ meaning "hell of a".[2][3] Urban Dictionary also has sonova /ˈsʌnəvə/ meaning son of a.[4]

Sometimes "of" is pronounced /ə/ and spelled "a" as in "lotsa"[5] (lots of) or "kinda" [6] (kind of).

References[edit]

  1. John Wells's phonetic blog, STRUT and commA, 13 July 2010.
  2. Oxford Learners Dictionaries, helluva
  3. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc., helluva
  4. Urban Dictionary, sonova
  5. Oxford Learners Dictionaries, lotta
  6. Oxford Learners Dictionaries, kinda