Episode Transcript

Let’s talk about the “O” as in “Go”.

Hey guys, it’s Hadar and this is the Accent’s Way. And today we’re gonna talk about the O vowel, the O diphthong as in “Go”, “No”, “Lonely” and “Hotel”.

I can’t believe I haven’t talked to you guys about it, yet. Shame on me, because this is a very important vowel sound for non-native speakers.

Now, here’s the thing. This is not a regular pure vowel. It’s a diphthong, which means, first of all, it’s longer two vowels that are connected. This is how you should think about it.

And second thing, it’s about all the changes. So you’re starting in one point and then you’re changing into another.

So, while you start with a fairly open mouth – ‘aw’, and slightly rounded lips, you close the mouth as you pronounce this sound, and push your lips forward to an ‘oo’ sound. ‘ow’. ‘ow’. Try it with me. Go. No.

Now, you have to be really loose, it’s not so stiff, it’s not ‘no’, ‘go’. Right? And you don’t see a lot of jaw movement here. You got to loosen your jaw and then close it slightly to the ‘oo’ sound. No. Go.

Alright. So you want to visualize as if there is a W sound at the end. This is the only way you’ll actually get to the second sound if you visualize a W sound. Low.

Now, some people may pronounce it as a diphthong. Low, Go, No. When it’s at the end of the word, but at the beginning of the word you may turn it into a quick short “O” sound. And you may say “only” instead of long “O” – ‘o(w)nly’.

Do you hear the difference? It’s not ‘only’, it’s ‘o(w)nly’. It’s not ‘don’t’, it’s ‘do(w)nt’. A long diphthong. It is not ‘wont’, “I ‘wont’ do it”, it’s ‘wo(w)nt’ ‘wo(w)nt’.

Now, I already made a video specifically about the difference between “won’t” and “want”, and if you tend to confuse these two I highly recommend you to watch it.

And as you can see here, it’s very important to reach the W sound. Otherwise, it’s going to be perceived as a different sound. So again: ‘wow’.

Get to the W sound, create change, hear the difference between the beginning and the end of the same vowel. ‘wow’, ‘wo(w)nt’, ‘do(w)nt’, ‘co(w)ld’. It’s not ‘cold’ – ‘co(w)ld’. ‘Scro(w)ll’. Not ‘scroll’, ‘scro(w)ll’.

So it has to be a little longer. ‘ho(w)-tel’, and not ‘hahtel’ or ‘hotel’. ‘how’, ‘how’, ‘how-how-how’, Merry Christmas. ‘ho(w)-tel’. Quick “O”, but still it’s a long vowel.

All right, so visualize the W. Give yourself the time, so make it a longer vowel, double the length of what you might be used to. And start open, so you have where to go. So you can actually close it throughout the pronunciation. ‘ow’.
Now, if you want to practice this sound and the only way to really make a change and the only way to own a new sound is by practicing drilling words, phrases, and sentences, and developing muscle memory. And then it’s just gonna be there for you when you’re speaking, cause it’s very difficult to think about those things when you’re trying to make conversation.

So I prepared a practice sheet for you guys with words and sentences that have the “O” as in “Go” sound and a recording of me, so you can actually drill the words until you get used to the new pronunciation and remember to insert that extra W after the O.

That’s it. Let me know in the comments below how you’re doing, and if you have any questions about this sound. And if you don’t then I’ll just see you next week, in the next video.