The -ough Sound

The -ough sound

The -ough sound can be pronounced in nine different ways. However, there are some differences in writing and pronouncing a word between British and American English, for example, the word hiccough in the American English is written as hiccup, but they are both pronounced the same. Also in the word plough, it is written as plow in the American English, but they are pronounced the same way. Although the word laugh is written the same, the British pronounce it as /lɑːf/ and the Americans pronounce it as /læf/ with a little bit of the ‘a’ and ‘e’ sound kind of mix together.

1. /oʊ/  

dough /doʊ
though /ðoʊ
although /ɔlˈðoʊ

2. /ə/ 

borough /ˈbɜr·oʊ

thorough /ˈθɜr·oʊ

3. /aʊ/ 

bough /baʊ
plough – US: plow /plaʊ
slough /slaʊ/ US: /sluː 

4. /ʌf/ — Rhymes with bluff, cuff, puff, scruff

rough /rʌf/ 
tough /tʌf/ 
enough /ɪˈnʌf/ 

5. Adding a < t > at the end makes /ɑːt/ — Rhymes with caught, naught, fought, wrought, ought

bought /bɑːt
brought /brɑːt
thought /θɑːt

6. /ɒf/ — Rhymes with doff, off, scoff, taw

cough /kɒf
trough /trɒf

7. /u:/ — Rhymes with too, do, blue, brew, doux, Jew

through /θruː

8. /ʌp/

hiccough /ˈhɪk.ʌp/ 

9. /ɑːf— Rhymes with calf, chaff, graph, half, staff

laugh /lɑːf/ US: /læf/ 

You can listen to The Australia Plus and learn How to Pronounce ‘ough’ with the Australian accent.  

Now try to pronounce the following sentences with the correct -ough sound.

1. Although she is 40 years old, she is running in the olympic.

2. If you want to make bread, you will need some dough.

3. She smiled at him as he walked through the door.

4. The doctor gave him a thorough check-up.

5. I think I am getting a cold or flu – I have been coughing and sneezing all day.

6. I bought a new car yesterday.

7. I thought you live in Cardiff.

8. How can I stop hiccoughs?

9. She had a tough life.

10. A farmer uses a plough to prepare his fields for growing.

11. Many countries have droughts.

12. Have I given him enough money?


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