The “OW” Diphthong, Like in “Cow”

Diphthongs are sounds that contain two sounds within one syllable. If you were to clap for each syllable while you say these words, the diphthong would be part of just one clap. Let’s learn how to pronounce the “ow” diphthong, as heard in words like cow and around

How to Pronounce the “ow” Diphthong:

To make the “ow” (or phonetically /aʊ/) diphthong sound, you will need to know how to make the separate sounds of /a/ as in “start” and “arm”, and /ʊ/, as in “wolf” and “bull”, shortly after each other. In a diphthong, the sound slides from the one sound, in this case the /a/ to the /ʊ/. You may notice that your lips start to form a tight circle as you move from the /a/ sound to the /ʊ/ sound. 

This sound is commonly used in both American and British English.

Examples of the “ow’ sound

You can find the “ow” (or /aʊ/) sound in many words that have an “ou” and “ow” spelling.  

  • Amount /əˈmaʊnt/
  • Out /aʊt/
  • Mouth /maʊθ/
  • Now /naʊ/
  • South /saʊθ/
  • Cow /kaʊ/
  • Vowel /ˈvaʊəl/

Need help?

For more on diphthongs, check out these articles:

Do you need a little more help with your pronunciation? To learn more about English pronunciation, get needed feedback and practice in conversation, join SpeakUp, a dynamic program that engages you in authentic conversations on relevant topics and provides you with feedback from a professional and experienced English teacher. In fact, the first week is free for you to try it out!

Sabine Hobbel

Sabine Hobbel

Sabine Hobbel has been helping people improve their English since 2004; the knowledge she gained from completing her Master's degrees in Psychology and in English helps her every day. She has lived in 4 different English-speaking countries and she currently lives in the Italian Alps.
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