Hi everyone, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English Pronunciation podcast. My Name is Mandy, and this is our 70th podcast, and our 8th video podcast.
The show today is taken from video lesson 5, and is about the difference between the long u sound, which sounds like (long u) and the oo sound, which sounds like (oo sound). Although pronouncing these vowel sounds causes less trouble than some other vowels, the very similar spellings of these two sounds does make it difficult to know which one to say.
Are you ever uncertain if the word is pronounced as distribute or (distriboot), or refute or (refoot). Maybe you never even noticed a difference between these sounds! This show will help you out.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, the only difference in the pronunciation of these sounds is the addition of a y sound to the long u sound. Yes, the long u sound is a y sound plus an oo sound. Most dictionaries will show the long u as these two separate sounds, so it's good to know about.
Watch the episode to learn more.
Listen to the difference, long u, oo sound (long u, oo sound, long u, oo sound).
The oo sound is created with the back of the tongue very high, almost like a g sound, but the back of the tongue and the top of the mouth do not actually touch. At the same time as the tongue is high, the lips are made into a small, tight circle. The sound is (oo sound, oo sound).
The long u is a two-sound vowel. It begins like a y sound, with relaxed lips, and the tip of the tongue very high to the tooth ridge. Then, the lips transition into the oo sound, with the lips moving onto a small, tight circle, at the same time as the back of the tongue rises high. Essentially, the long u sound, which sounds like (long u) is a y sound, plus an oo sound. (long u, long u)
Let's look at some examples of words with these sounds.
In the word cute, c-u-t-e, the spelling is u-consonant-e, and the sound is a long u, just as we'd expect by that spelling due to the vowel-consonant-e rule. Listen to the word again. Cute. That vowel sounds like (long u), just like the letter name. Remember; we call it a long vowel because it sounds like the letter name.
Now let's look at the word rule, r-u-l-e. That spelling is also a u-consonant-e, but it is not pronounced as a long u. The vowel sound in the word rule is the oo sound, (oo sound), rule. Compare the vowel sound in rule to the vowel sound in soon. They are both the oo sound.
There are a total of three spellings that can be pronounced as either the long u sound, or the oo sound: the
I'm going to first show you the some examples of words with each of those spellings, then help you learn the patterns that can help you determine whether a word will be pronounced as a long u or the oo sound.
First, here are a few more examples of each sound being spelled u-consonant-e.
This first set of words is all pronounced with a long u sound.
The following words are pronounced with an oo sound.
Here are examples of words spelled ue and pronounced as a long u sound.
And the following words are also spelled ue, but are pronounced as an oo sound.
Here are examples of words spelled ew and pronounced as a long u sound.
And the following words are also spelled ew, but are pronounced as an oo sound
Although both of these sounds share all three of these spellings, there is a pattern that can be learned to help determine which sound is going to be used, and it mainly relies on the consonant before the long u or oo sound. There are far fewer consonant sounds that will cause the long u, so we will focus on learning those 6 sounds. All other consonants besides those six are more likely to cause an oo sound.
Here is a list of the six consonant sounds that cause a long u pronunciation
b sound, abuse
k sound, cute
f sound, few
h sound, huge
m sound, mute
p sound, pure
Students can choose to memorize these six sounds, or they can memorize individual words as they learn them.
Finally, let's talk about the oo spelling and the oo sound. It is interesting to note that this spelling does not apply to the long u sound. Therefore, no matter which consonant sound comes before the oo spelling, it will not be pronounced as a long u.
Here are examples of words spelled oo and pronounced as the oo sound
Although the oo spelling is not used for the long u sound, it does still have one other possible pronunciation, the u as in put sound (u as in put).
Two examples of the oo spelling being pronounced as the u as in put sound and not the oo sound are good and look. Listen to hear that the vowel sound in the word put (u sound) is the same as the vowel sound in the words good and look. Put, good, look. Compare the vowel sound in the word good with the oo sound in the word soon. Good,, soon. Notice that those are different sounds. Good, soon. The u as in put sound will be covered in a later video lesson.
For now, remember that if you see an oo spelling, it does have two possible pronunciations.
The entire lesson continues to tell you some non-phonetic words, those are words that don't use a common spelling, and offer extra practice with these sounds. If you would like to see the entire lesson, and all of the others, go to www.pronuncian.com/join and subscribe to pronuncian. Along with all the video lessons, you get all of our additional listening and speaking practice, and access to a growing list of quizzes!
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