Two Other Vowels

There are two vowel sounds that are similar to Long-vowels because they have two parts. However, these two vowels do not have an alphabet letter to represent them, so I use the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) symbols for these two sounds. They are:

Vowel /aw/

This is the sound in words such as: house / out / now / flower. This sound is usually spelled with the letters “OU” or “OW”, BUT be careful…

  • not every word with “OU” has this sound. The vowel pair “OU” has many different pronunciations (this is explained in OU – Oh no!).
  • not every word with “OW” has this sound. Some words with “OW” have a Long-O sound, such as “slow” or “own”.

Vowel /oy/

This sound is in words such as: boy / oyster / oil / choice. This vowel is spelled with either “OI” or “OY”.

These two vowels are not usually difficult for students to pronounce. In fact, I have never seen a situation where someone has had difficulty communicating clearly in English due to errors with these two vowels.

There is just one thing to keep in mind about pronouncing them. Since these vowels — as well as the regular Long-vowels — have two parts, the tongue needs to be active. So, to pronounce them well, the tongue needs to move or slide, in order to pronounce both parts, and to sound clear and natural.

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About Pronunciation Coach
I am a language teacher, with over 20 years of experience teaching ESL & Spanish.

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