An Easy Fix: Pronouncing the Spelling “au” Correctly

Most non-native speakers of English pronounce “au” incorrectly, regardless of where they are from in the world.  Think about the words “auto,” “audit,” and “caught.”  What sound do you use for the “au”?  Most people don’t realize that this sound has absolutely no rounding of the lips.

In English, when you see the spelling “au,” you will not round your lips.  Not even a little bit.  This will not be an “oh” sound (e.g. “coat,” “broke”) or an “ow” sound (e.g. “cow,” “about”).  When you see the spelling “au,” you will make the “ah” sound.  To do the “ah” sound, drop your tongue to the bottom of your mouth, keeping it very relaxed, and do not round your lips.  At this point, you may want to look in the mirror while you make the sound to check on your lips.  It can be very tempting to round them!  Now when we talk about “lip rounding,” we mean any kind of tension of the lips.  If you see or feel tension in the lips, or you see them moving in any way during this sound, stop and try again. Your lips and your tongue should be very relaxed.

Once you have perfected the “ah” sound by itself, try using the sound at the beginning of words such as “audience” and “auction.”  When you feel that you are consistently using the “ah” sound for the “au” spelling, try making sentences with the words.  Record yourself so that you can evaluate your pronunciation. Continue to use a mirror to check the position of your lips and tongue as needed.

Here is a list of words to get you started:

–          Audience

–          Automatic

–          Author

–          Audio

–          Audit

–          Auction

–          Automobile

–          Autograph

–          Authentic

–          Austin

Best of luck as you practice!  And remember, DO NOT ROUND YOUR LIPS!