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Spelling and Pronunciation: OU

The spelling "ou" can have several sounds. As you can see from the list below, there is one sound that is used the most: the double vowel. This is the sound of the Short A (as in "cat") followed by the Long O (as in "no").

And yet, there are 5 other pronunciations.

Though there are a few spelling and pronunciation patterns, they are not free from exceptions. The best way to learn these words is to memorize them.


double vowel, as in "ouch"
amount, count, counter, county, doubt, drought, foul, flour, found, fountain, ground, hour, house, mountain, mouth, noun, our, out, pound, pout, round, route*, shout, sound, sour, south, thousand
most common pronunciation
relaxed U, as in "good"
could, would, should
used with the conditional words
short U
rough, tough, enough, country, young
used with some common words
short O
bought, fought, sought, cough
usually spelled with "ough" and final T
Long O
though, dough, thorough, four, pour, tour, soul
"thorough" sounds like "thurō"
Long U
through, route*
"route" has 2 pronunciations--people use both

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500 Words: Short Vowels

500 Words: Long Vowels

All Vowels

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Sounds of the Letter A

Sounds of the Letter I

Sounds of the Letter O

500 Common Words


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