The sound /ɔ/ low, back, tense vowel


Note: In many American dialects, /ɔ/ and /ɑ/ are treated as the same sound.




  • "o" - gone, follow
  • "augh" - caught, daughter
  • "ough" - bought, thought
  • "aw" - saw, lawyer
  • "a" - always, false,
  • "oa" - abroad, broad
  • "au" - August, author
Compare /ɔ/ with /ɑ/:

These are both low, tense vowels. However, /ɔ/ is a back, rounded vowel and /ɑ/ is a central, unrounded vowel. When you pronounce /ɔ/, your lips should form a circle.

Note: Many American English speakers do not distinguish between these two vowels.
You can hear the difference between /ɔ/ and /ɑ/ in these words.
1. A. caught, B. cot
2. A. stalk, B. stock
3. A. dawn, B. don
4. A. score, B. scar
5. A. store, B. starry
6. A. caller, B. collar

Now compare /ɔ/ and /ow/:

These are both back, tense, rounded vowels. However, /ɔ/ is a low vowel and /ow/ is a mid vowel. When you pronounce /ɔ/, your tongue should be low in your mouth.

You can hear the difference between /ɔ/ and /ow/ in these words.
1. A. saw, B. sow
2. A. bought, B. boat
3. A. clause, B. close
4. A. ball, B. bowl
5. A. lawn, B. loan
6. A. more, B. mower
Listen and repeat these words:
1. law
2. bought
3. lost
4. talk
5. broad
6. cause
7. fault
8. forest
9. dawn
10. long
11. door
12. call
13. water
14. story
15. thoughtful
16. autumn
17. almost
18. always
19. morning
20. quarter

Now practice /ɔ/ in sentences:
1. talked - almost - dawn
We talked until almost dawn.
2. always - abroad - autumn
I always go abroad in the autumn. 
3. bought - orange - mall
I bought an orange sweater at the mall.
4. called - walking - door
He called me as he was walking out the door.
5. daughter - story - morning
I told your daughter that story this morning.
6. score - already - lost
Based on our score, I think we already lost the game.

To practice with different varieties of English, choose another native English speaker by clicking one of the links below. (Note: Because of regional variation, some speakers may use /ɑ/ instead of /ɔ/ in some words.)

Consonants /d/ and /g/

What we understand will appear here!
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