How To Say Ough In English Pronunciation

English is one of the easiest languages in the world in which you can improve from beginner level to having an understandable conversation relatively quickly.

For example, trying to learn German (with lots of grammar rules), Polish (with even more grammar rules) or Mandarin takes a LOT of hard work at the start of the language-learning journey. With English, after 1 or 2 lessons, you can have a basic conversation about your family, interests or say what you like and don’t like.

Don’t get me wrong, English is difficult to master at the end of your language journey. It is not easy to go from advanced to fluent as there are thousands of nuances, idioms, cultural references, phrasal verbs etc that take a very long time to learn.

However, we can say that speaking English is (relatively) easy to start. But one of the difficult things with learning English is the spelling! Students often complain about it. The complex spelling is a result of the language influences that English has absorbed, including Celt, German, French, Latin and Indian words.

You can find words that do not sound like they are spelt. You can also have words that have the same sound as another word, but are spelt differently…. and it can drive you mad.


Think about the ‘oo’ sound in YOU and BEAUTIFUL and TWO


One of the most frustrating sound/spelling issues in English are the letters O, U, G and H when they are together in a word.

They can be pronounced eight, yes 8, different ways in various words. Some of these words are very old and are seldom used nowadays, so you do not need to worry about them too much. 

Below is a list of the most common words still used today with this orthographic pattern.

You can hear all the different pronunciation variations in the funny video. You can also see the phonemic transcription (like in an English dictionary) of each sound in the video.


1.    OUGH sound: ort

Bought, brought, thought, Ought to

2. OUGH sound: uff

Enough rough tough

3. OUGH sound: oh

Although, though, doughnut

4.  OUGH sound: uh  (this is the schwa sound, which is the most frequent vowel sound in English)

Thorough borough

5. OUGH sound:  oooo


6. OUGH sound: off


7. OUGH sound: ow


If you can say all of those words with perfect English pronunciation, then it’s time for a test.

Here are some sentences including some of the most frequent ough words. Have a go and see if you can get it right first time.

If you are not sure how to say them, then watch the video to hear SGI teacher, Bren reading the sentences aloud in basic, slow and normal native-speaker speed.


Last Thursday we had a thorough walk through the rough boroughs of Loughborough. Although I had a bad cough, we bought some doughnuts.


If you want to work on improving your English pronunciation, then speak to one of our office staff about an English course that is right for you. Did you know that some member of staff at SGI probably speaks your language?

You can call us on 0044 207 299 1700

Or email us with your English course enquiry and we will get back to you straightaway.

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A leading ‘English as a foreign language’​ school in London helping you meet your learning objectives in the shortest time.

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