The 9 Pronunciations of -ough 11

The English language is renowned for its sometimes seemingly illogical spelling and pronunciation. -ough is a perfect example of this.

Try reading this short passage about investments.

Though I thought investing would be tough, after thoroughly ploughing through the borough … I rethought … due to a drought the price of dough was enough to make one cough, hiccough and splutter.
The shares were worth nought – I have since thrown them it in the lough. Maybe Nessie will slough her skin when she sees them. I ought to have known better! Investing really is a series of peaks and troughs!

Now listen and find out how thoroughly thoughtless English pronunciation can be!

Click here to listen

Now try these worksheets:

The Nine Pronunciations of -ough
Rhyming Words


Here area couple more sentences to test your pronunciation:

A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough, coughing and hiccoughing thoughtfully.

I thought it would be tough to plough through the soil, though it was falling into the lough at the end of the field that left me thoroughly coughing and hiccoughing.

And just for fun, here is a poem by William Thomas Goodge.

“Ough” A Phonetic Fantasy

The baker-man was kneading dough

And whistling softly, sweet and lough.

Yet ever and anon he’d cough

As though his head were coming ough!

“My word!” said he, “but this is rough:

This flour is simply awful stough!”
He punched and thumped it through and through,

As all good bakers dough!

“I’d sooner drive,” said he “a plough

Than be a baker anyhough!”
Thus spake the baker kneading dough;

But don’t let on I told you sough!

11 thoughts on “The 9 Pronunciations of -ough

  1. Pingback: The 9 Pronunciations of -ough ← The Busine...

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  4. Reply Dr Chiramel Paul Jose May 3,2014 %I:%M %p

    Teaching in Saudi Arabia, I find this very useful and informative.

  5. Reply Marcia May 6,2014 %I:%M %p

    Very useful. Thanks for sharing :)

  6. Reply Heemal May 7,2014 %I:%M %p

    I loved the ‘ough’ fantasy!! planning to do an activity in class. going to be great fun i am sure… i can visualize it already! thank you!

  7. Reply Muhammad Asim Subhan May 7,2014 %I:%M %p

    Yeah, it’s a wonderful source to clarify the difference of the sounds related to ‘-ough.’ It is surely going to help me a lot in clarifying the pronunciation of ‘-ough’
    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful source

  8. Reply Daniel A. Jaimen Navarrete Nov 28,2014 %I:%M %p

    Contrary to common belief, English doesn’t have an alphabet. It has a syllabary with some historical resemblance to the Roman alphabet it originated from. Perhaps English should come clean and give up on euphemisms such as “orthographic depth” and undertake the institution of an alphabet specifically designed for the English phonetic system, just like Bernard Shaw proposed back in the day.

  9. Reply Fan Nov 30,2014 %I:%M %p

    That’s a remarkable collection. Manyy thanks for sharig!

  10. Reply Tatjana Oct 6,2015 %I:%M %p

    Thank you, this is very useful!

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