Free Sounds Guidebook

How to Pronounce the UH /ʌ/ Vowel

(Video Transcript)

The UH /ʌ/ vowel is in the words butter, trouble, and sun. This vowel is a relaxed and neutral vowel in American English. The jaw drops to mid-level, and the lips and tongue are relaxed. The back of the tongue is in the middle of the mouth, not arched up high and not pulled completely low, and the tongue tip is down, behind the bottom front teeth. The mouth is relaxed. UH.


How to make the UH /ʌ/ vowel

Here is a close up of the UH vowel. The jaw drops to a mid-level opening, not fully open and not fully closed. The tongue is also at a mid-level in the mouth. The tongue tip is down behind the bottom front teeth. The lips are relaxed. 


Here is the vowel UH in the word cut. The jaw drops and the tongue is relaxed and down. The tongue tip is also down, behind the bottom front teeth. The mouth is relaxed.


Stressed UH /ʌ/ vs. unstressed UH /ʌ/

When UH is in a stressed syllable, the pitch of the voice glides up and then down. UH. Cut. UH. But when UH is in an unstressed syllable, the pitch of the voice is flatter, and the vowel is said faster and at a lower pitch. This happens often to unstressed syllables in American English. Unstressed syllables are said faster than stressed syllables, so it is common to reduce the pitch of the voice and simplify the pronunciation of an unstressed syllable. The UH vowel is unstressed in a word like unlace.


The picture on the left is the stressed UH in the word cut. And the picture on the right is the unstressed UH in the word unlace. Notice the difference in jaw drop between the stressed and unstressed positions. Even though the stressed UH has more jaw opening, the muscles in the mouth are relaxed for both the stressed and unstressed UH vowels.


Stressed UH. Cut. Unstressed UH. Unlace.

Practice words and sentences

Here are some practice words and sentences.


Lucky. UH. Lucky.

She was very lucky and won the jackpot.

Hundred. UH. Hundred.

The jackpot was one hundred dollars!

Much. UH. Much.

The cookies have too much salt.

Understand. UH. Understand.

I don’t understand the question.

Mother. UH. Mother.

I love my mother.

Color. UH. Color.

That color looks great on you!

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Julie Cunningham | San Diego Voice and Accent Julie Cunningham | San Diego Voice and Accent Julie Cunningham | San Diego Voice and Accent

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