American English Pronunciation is Not Always Easy
The correct English pronunciation of a word is not always the way you imagine it when you read it. In fact, English letters and combinations of letters can have more than one way to say them! English pronunciation can surprise you with many variations of sounds for the same letters.
Words that are spelled the same but sound different are called homographs. For example, the words “bass,” “bow,” “lead,” “read,” “putting,” “refuse,” “tear,” “wind,” and “wound” are all homographs — there is more than one way to pronounce them correctly, with different meanings for each pronunciation.
And if that doesn’t seem challenging enough for you, hang on. There are words like “record,” “contract,” “conduct,” “attribute,” “object” and many more that are pronounced differently as nouns and as verbs because the words stress is placed on different syllables. If you’re curious about this, click here to read this post about a secret sound that creates word stress in English!
Ok, but back to -ough…
Do You Really Know How to Pronounce the O-U-G-H Sound?
The O-U-G-H sound is not a word and therefore it is not a homograph. But, it is worth mentioning that there are many different ways to say these letters when they are contained in different words. The O-U-G-H combination is in a lot of commonly used, everyday words so it’s really important to know.
If you’re not sure how to say the “-ough” in a word, you may try to avoid it, make mistakes, or have unclear communication. Don’t avoid words just because you’re not sure how to pronounce them. Let’s learn all the options to correctly pronounce this interesting combination of letters! Once you master all the pronunciations of -ough, you’ll feel more confident in your English fluency.
The 10 Different Ways to Say O-U-G-H in ONE Sentence!
Can you believe there are actually 10 different ways to say -ough? It’s crazy to see that English has so many variations. Let’s uncover how to say each one through an example sentence. English has been influenced by other languages and English spelling and pronunciation itself has changed over time. This results in the 10 different instances of the -ough sound in the sentence below:
I thought it would be rough to plough through the slough, though it was falling into the lough that left me thoroughly coughing and hiccoughing.
Watch the video below to listen to me say this sentence. I also briefly review each word and talk about the meaning.