The ʊ Sound (/ʊ/ Phoneme)

This is the ʊ sound. As in the words:

  • would /wʊd/
  • look /lʊk/
  • good /gʊd/

ʊ sound

It is a Vowel sound and it’s technical name is the ‘Near-Close Near-Back Vowel’.

How to Pronounce the ʊ sound

Remember that the key to pronunciation s physical and the name tells us about how the sound is made physically. In this case your tongue is close to the top and near the back of your mouth.

All vowels are made through the mouth and are voiced so you vibrate your vocal chords to make the sound.
It is similar to the /u:/ sound, but it is shorter.
/ʊ/ not /u:/.

To produce the ʊ sound put your tongue close to the top and near the back of your mouth and make a short voiced sound with your mouth closed.

How the ʊ sound is spelled

The ʊ sound is normally spelled with the letter ‘u’ as in the words:

  • education /ˌedjʊˈkeɪʆən/
  • put /pʊt/

But it can also be spelled with the letter ‘o’ or ‘o-o’ as in the words:

  • woman /’wʊmən/
  • book /bʊk/

Like with all vowels in English, the spelling can be very inconsistent and you will always find alternative and unusual spellings of the vowels sounds. It is one of the most difficult things in English but you just have to learn it.

Examples of the ʊ sound

Words don’t normally start with this sound but, here are some words that have the sound in the middle:

  • foot /fʊt/
  • full /fʊl/
  • pull /pʊl/
  • push /pʊʆ/

Not many words end with this symbol either, there are a couple of examples but when we say them by themselves we normally use the longer /u:/.

  • into /’ɪntʊ/
  • onto /ˈɒntʊ/

But when they are in a sentence that they can be pronounced /ʊ/.

  • ‘Put your violin into the case.’ and
  • ‘ My coat fell onto the floor.’

So that is it for theʊ sound but we have made additional videos on each of the groups of sounds Vowels, Diphthongs, Single Consonants, or Consonant Pairs as well as a video explaining the the phonetic chart.

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