This is a “short” or “checked” vowel sound, so is always followed by a consonant.

o as in pot

a as in want

au as in fault

e as in entrée

ou as in cough

eau as in bureaucracy

i as in lingerie

ow as in knowledge

oh as in John

eo as in cheongsam


13 thoughts on “o

      1. Liliana

        Is there any guide regarding this sound? Like before r and w, is always or sometimes? Does “al “. has the long o sound as in all, already, always?

        1. alison Post author

          I don’t entirely understand your question, this is the “short o” sound. I think the problem is that you probably don’t have an Australian accent, so the vowel classification on this site will sometimes not make sense to you. Can you refer to a website written for the accent you speak?

          1. Liliana

            Thanks Alison, I do live in Australia and trying very hard to improve my accent so that can be understood. I was talking about the long “o” sound as in law, all. When should I make that sound?

  1. Vicky Gammon

    I’m trying to work out how to teach the spelling of ‘what’. Should I relate it to the words that begin with ‘wa’ and have the short o sound? Google isn’t helping me.

    1. alison Post author

      I usually tell kids two things about “what”:
      1. It’s a question word and these mostly start with ‘wh’ as in when, where, why, which and of course who (but not how). I tell them we pronounce the W in most of these words but the H in who, because English is a bit of an old weird language, sorry, not my fault. Then we practise some ‘wh’ words.
      2. After the sound /w/ we usually write /o/ with letter A, as in was, want, wallet, wander, swan, quantity and quality. In the olden days the pronunciation would have matched the spelling better but over time pronunciation changes, sorry, again not my fault. Then we practise some words with this spelling pattern.
      This seems to work OK, for some kids the two patterns can be addressed at once but others need to do them one at a time. Hope that’s useful. Alison

    1. alison Post author

      Hi Ellen, ‘yacht’ is probably one of those rare words with spelling that mostly has to be explained by its etymology, and remembered by saying it a funny way (spelling voice) because the phonology and morphology are not a lot of help. The ‘a’ is like in ‘want’ and ‘was’, which is fairly common though it usually occurs after /w/ not /y/, but the cht is Dutch and not in any other words in English, as far as I know. Luckily it’s not a word most of us have to use much! Alison


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