This month’s post teaches you how to pronounce the -gh sound in English. You’ve probably seen it lurking in words like enough, through, and sigh. You might try your best to pronounce it, or, you might avoid it completely. Through? Furlough? Cough. Ugh. What is that sound?!
The truth is, the -gh doesn’t have one sound in English–it has several sounds–depending on the word or the vowel that comes before it. Sometimes it makes an ‘F’ sound. Sometimes it is silent. The only way to know is to learn the words individually. Then you’ve gotta practice, practice, practice until you can say :
“Even though it was tough, I still got through it!”
Here are 14 tough words to practice pronunciation of the -gh sound. These are very common words that you will be able to say (and use!) after a few rounds of practice.
Let’s get started!
Rough, Tough, Enough
These words rhyme with stuff.
Rough is the opposite of smooth or easy.
Tough means strong or difficult.
Enough means you don’t want or need any more.
Daughter and Laughter
My daughter’s laughter is my favorite sound.
These words don’t sound the same.
Irregular Verbs with -Gh
Did you know there are several irregular verbs in English that have the same past and past participle -gh sound? Each of these verbs in the past sounds like <AWT>.
Memorize these next five, and you’ll never have trouble with them again.
Taught, Thought, Fought, Caught, & Bought
You’re almost through the list of words! You’re doing great, but don’t let the next word throw you off.
This word sounds the same as ‘threw’. It rhymes with ‘too’.
Through is a preposition that indicates passing from one side to the other, usually within a narrow opening.
We drive through tunnels and fast food restaurants. We can see through glass. We also use through for difficult situations we must complete. It has definitely been a difficult year to go through.
These words rhyme with ‘high’ and ‘night’, respectively.
When you finish pronouncing all these words, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Don’t worry. The end is in sight.
We’re not finished, though. We still have one more word to practice:
It means ‘but’. It rhymes with ‘no’.
Though is extremely common in spoken English. You may not have noticed it, though. It is pronounced very differently than it sounds.
You did it! You made the effort to learn how to pronounce 14 -gh words and add them to your vocabulary. You might start to notice the -gh sound in other common words. When you do, always look it up or ask someone how it is pronounced, because you’ll never know unless you ask!
Do you know any other words that are difficult to pronounce? Ask me! Leave me a comment with your pronunciation questions below.
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