IPA phoneme /ɔː/

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This is a Teflpedia phonetics article. For simplicity, some of our articles are presently based on British English and Received Pronunciation. We trust teachers will adapt the information to their particular situation and/or that of their students.


In Received Pronunciation, the IPA phonetic symbol /ɔː/ corresponds to the vowel sound in words like "north", "force", and "thought". Additionally, many people pronounce "sure" as /ʃɔːr/ instead of the more traditional /ʃʊər/. See IPA phoneme /ʊə/.

In General American this phoneme is heard in "north", "force", "thought", and also "cloth" (the latter is pronounced /ɒ/ in Received Pronunciation).

In Received Pronunciation /ɔːr/ is pronounced [ɔː] unless it is followed by a vowel, i.e. when the spelling has an "r", it is normally silent unless it is followed by a vowel.

In General American the "r" in /ɔːr/ is always pronounced.

There are places in the United Kingdom where /ɔːr/ is pronounced [ɔːr], and places in North America where /r/ is silent.

Common words

Some common words containing /ɔ:/ include the following:

  • with "oa": abroad - broad
  • with "ough": bought - brought - fought - ought - thought;
  • with "a": water;
  • with "al": almost - already - alter - always - chalk - false - salt - talk - walk;
  • with "all": ball - call - fall - hall - mall - small - talk - walk - wall;
  • with "aw": dawn - flaw - hawk - jaw - law - lawn - raw - saw - shawl - thaw - yawn;
  • with "au": August - author - autumn - caught - clause - daughter - fault - launch - taught;

Some common words containing /ɔ:r/ include the following (note that the /r/ is silent in Received Pronunciation)

  • with "or": afford - born - cork - door - floor - fork - horse - lord - more - nor - or - pork - score - short - store - storm - sword;
  • with "oar": boar - board - oar - roar - soar;
  • with "our": court - four - pour
  • with "ar": quarter - war - warm - warn;


  • homophones: bored/board - court/caught - or/oar/ore - stork/stalk.

Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1

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

Some Spanish speakers may, at first, have difficulty distinguishing between the vowel sound in "north" and that of /ɒ/, as in "not".

See also