Decoding the letter L

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love /lʌv/

The letter L, lower case l (pronounced /el/) normally represents IPA phoneme /l/. For examples see IPA phoneme /l/.

In several cases "l" is silent, and in some cases it modifies the sound of the previous vowel.

  • "al" as /ɔː/: talk - walk
  • "al" as /ɑː/: almond - balm - palm - psalm
  • "al" as /ɑː/BrE or /æ/:AmE calf - half
  • "al" as /æ/: salmon /ˈsæmən/ but salmonella /sælməˈnelə/
  • "ol" as /əʊ/: folklore - Sherlock Holmes - Stockholm /ˈstɒk həʊm, ˈstɒk həʊlm/
  • "ol" as /ə/: Lincoln. cf. Linkin Park
  • "oul" as /ʊ/: could - should - would

Double l

Normally "ll" represents /l/, as in will, really, follow.

"ll" as /ll/ in two different syllables

  • wholly /ˈhəʊlli, ˈhəʊli/
  • goalless - soulless - wheelless

Spelling anomalies

  • colonel /ˈkɜːrnəl/
  • tortilla /tɔːrˈtiːə/


  • colonel - kernel
In General American: balm - bomb

See also