10 mind-boggling ways to pronounce ‘ough’

 In Blog

English spelling isn’t entirely phonetic, which means that many words aren't spelt the way they sound. This is particularly true for words ending in -ough.

To prove that point, check out the following ten words ending in -ough, each with their own distinct pronunciations:

  •  "cough" (which rhymes with "off")
  •  "rough" (which rhymes with "stuff")
  • "dough" (which rhymes with "no")
  •  "through" (which rhymes with "do")
  •  "thought" (which sounds like "awe")
  •  "plough" (an alternative spelling of "plow")
  •  "hiccough" (an alternative spelling of "hiccup")
  •  "hough" (an alternative spelling of "hock")
  •  "lough" (an alternative spelling of "loch")
  •  "thorough" (which is the schwa sound (ə) all on its own!)

Good luck with saying this sentence:

"A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed."


Conclusion

English pronunciation can be a minefield, and words ending in -ough rather prove such an assertion. However, a great deal of auditory exposure to English will help you to internalise the pronunciation of individual words. 

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