Pronunciation exercises: /ɒrV/ vs /ɔːrV/

From Teflpedia


choral /ˈkɔːrəl/


coral /ˈkɒrəl/

IPA vowels
æ ɑː
trap father - start
dress face square
ɪ ɪə
kit fleece near
ɒ əʊ ɔː
lot goat taught
ʊ ʊə
foot goose mature
juː jʊə
cute cure
ʌ ə ɜː
strut comma nurse
price mouth choice

This page sets out some common words teachers can use to help their students become more aware of how they can improve their pronunciation of the sequences /ɒr/ and /ɔːr/ when they are followed by a vowel.

In General American /ɒr/BrE sounds /ɑːr/ in only 5 words (labeled with *) and it sounds /ɔːr/ or /ər/ in the rest.[1] In this page we are not concerned with /ər/.

In regional Atlantic American English /ɒr/BrE sounds /ɑːr/, as in orange pronounced /ˈɑːrɪndʒ/.[1]

Distinctions by dialect[edit]

Dialect sorry forest glory
Received Pronunciation [ɒ] [ɒ] [ɔː]
Atlantic American English [ɑː] [ɑː] [ɔː]
General American [ɑː] [ɔː] [ɔː]
Canada [ɔː] [ɔː] [ɔː]

Common words[edit]

  • /ɒr/:
  • as "or": foreign - forest - historical - majority - moral - orange - origin - priority
  • as "orr": borrow* - correspond - sorry* - tomorrow*
  • /ɔːr/:
  • as "or": boring - explorer - moreover - story
  • /ɔːr/AmE or /ər/BrE: category

Less common words[edit]

  • /ɒr/:
  • as "or": coral - historic - laboratory /ləˈbɒrətriː,BrE ˈlæbrətɔːriːAmE/ - minority - seniority
  • as "orr": abhorrent - horrible - morrow* (shortening of "tomorrow") - sorrow*
  • as "arr": quarrel - warrant - warranty - warrior
  • as "ar": quarantine
  • /ɔːr/:
  • as "or": chlorine - choral - chorus - glory - historian - laboratory /ləˈbɒrətriː,BrE ˈlæbrətɔːriAmE/ - memorial - notorious - storage
  • as "aur": laurel - thesaurus
  • as "orr": abhorring
  • as "or": mandatory - territory /ˈterɪtəriː,BrE ˈterɪtriː,BrE ˈterətɔːriːAmE/

Proper nouns[edit]

  • /ɒ/: Dorothy - Florence - Forida - Oregon
  • /ɔː/: Dora

Spelling rule[edit]

The sequence "orr" is pronounced /ɔː/ in Received Pronunciation only in verbs ending in "or". There is only one such a verb that appears in normal dictionaries:

  • from abhor: abhorred, abhorring

Note that "abhorrent" /əbˈhɒrənt/ is an adjective, not a verb.

Variant pronunciations /ɒr/ vs /ɔːr/[edit]

In addition to the distinctions by dialect there are some specific words.

  • oral: most dictionaries have /ɔːr/ but Collins Dictionary gives the additional variant /ɒr/ for British English.[2]

Difference between "oral" and "aural"[edit]

Dialect oral aural
Most dialects /ˈɔːrəl/ /ˈɔːrəl/
Unmerged "horse" and "hoarse" /ˈoərəl/ /ˈɔːrəl/
Variant pronunciation of "oral" /ˈɒrəl/ /ˈɔːrəl/

In a few regions of the United States "horse" and "hoarse" are pronounced differently /hɔːrs, hoərs/. These accents are said to have "horse" and "hoarse" unmerged.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wikipedia, English-language vowel changes before historic /r/ § Mergers of /ɒr-/ and /ɔːr-/. Retreived 13 December 2016.
  2. Collins English Dictionary, oral, section "oral in British".

See also[edit]

External links[edit]