Here we have another vowel sound in English, the dreaded double ‘o’ sound. You would think all words containing a ‘oo’ would be pronounced the same, wouldn’t you? You would also think that as it is a double vowel, it would be a long vowel sound, am I right? Well… they aren’t! Might I remind you, this is English, and nothing is ever that simple. Let’s continue, and I’ll tell you how the most common words are pronounced.
The spelling ‘oo’ can be pronounced in several different ways. Unfortunately, in this case, there isn’t a rule that fits any ‘oo’ word. Some words are long sounds, others are short sounds, and some are neither. The best way to remember these is to learn the words (there aren’t a great deal of common ones). I suggest watching my video so you can hear the native pronunciation and practice saying the words aloud.
Long oo sound
Let’s begin with the long oo sound. This is the largest group of words for you to remember. Your lips should make the shape of the letter ‘o’ when saying this sound. The most common words in this group that you will use are:
- baboon, balloon, bamboo, bloom, boom, boot, booze, broom
- cartoon, choose, cool
- food, fool
- Google, goose
- loo, loop
- mood, moon, moose, mushroom
- poo, poodle, proof
- roof, room
- school, scoop, shoot, soon, spoon, spook, snooker, swoop
- too, tool,
Short oo sound
Another common pronunciation of the oo sound it the short vowel sound. This is pronounced like and ‘uh’ sound. It’s almost as if the oo is replaced with a ‘u’ sound. For example, we don’t say ‘booook’, it’s closer to ‘buk’.
Here’s the most common words you are likely to use in everyday speech:
- book, brook
- cook, cookie
- hood, hoody, hook
- shook, stood
- whoosh, wood, wooden, wool, and woollen.
Long oo sound ending in oor
This next bunch of oo words are also pronounced with a long vowel sound. They sound like the ‘aw’ in ‘law’ and ‘straw’ and there is an ‘r’ directly after the double oo.
The main words you’ll come across are:
- floor, floored
- poor, poorly
short oo sound – uh
Now we have an easier one for you, it’s easy because you only have two words to remember. The sound is a short vowel sound that rhymes with ‘mud’ and ‘thud’. The oo sounds like the ‘u’ in up and under and sounds hind of like an ‘uh’ sound. The two words you have to remember are:
short oo sound – brooch
This is a short vowel sound that rhymes with ‘coach’ and ‘roach’ and is pronounced with a diphthong. There’s only one word you need to remember for this and that is ‘brooch’. Not sure what a brooch is? Well, a brooch is an item of jewellery that is attached to clothing.
oo pronunciation rules
So, you’ve learnt the different ways of pronouncing the ‘oo’ sound. I bet you want to know if there are any rules to help spot how to pronounce a word. Well, there’s some good news about that. The good news is that there are a few rules you can learn, but they have exceptions (as always in English). The even better news is that I’ve covered all of the words you’re likely to use, so just study the text and pictures above and watch my video to hear the exact pronunciation.
Let’s take a look at some rules…
Words ending in ‘oo’ are pronounced with a long vowel sound. For example:
Words with ‘ood’ can be pronounced in 3 different ways:
- the long ‘oo’ – brood, food, mood.
- the short ‘uh’ – good, hood, wood.
- the ‘ud’ sound in the words blood and flood.
Words with ‘ool’, ‘oom’, and ‘oon’ are mostly pronounced with a long vowel sound.
- pool, school, stool, tool.
- bedroom. broom, doom, groom.
- balloon, lagoon, moon, spoon.