Oi, Ou, Ow Sounds Diagram and Explanation

Diphthongs: Double Vowels

The technical term for a double vowel sound is diphthong. There are two diphthongs in American English, the ōee sound and the ăō sound. 

The ōee sound is a Long O as in no and a Long E as in see. It is spelled with oi or oy. Examples are choice, voice, toy and ploy.

Careful: the OI spelling can be both Long O and Short I. This happens in longer words that begin with the prefix co as in coincidence.

The ăō sound is a Short A as in cat and a Long O as in no. It is spelled with ou or ow. Examples are account, amount, down and browse.

OW Sounds

The ow spelling can also sound like a Long O (the W is silent). Examples are snow and know. Both the Long O and the ăō sounds occur frequently with this spelling. Also note: in the endings OWEL and OWER, there is the ăō sound plus a W, as in towel and power.

OU Sounds

The ou spelling is the most complex. This spelling probably originates in several European languages that had distinct sounds for it. In addition to ăō, the ou spelling can sound like a Long O, a Short O, a Relaxed U, a Long U or a Schwa as in pour, bought, couldthrough and countryrespectively. You definitely need to check the pronunciation if unsure.
750 Business WordsOi, Ou, Ow, Main Page
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