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Which is the difference in pronunciation between "won't" and "want"?

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closed as general reference by Jim, RegDwigнt Jan 24 '13 at 9:50

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Remember there is no single right answer here- it varies regionally. want won't – Jim Jan 24 '13 at 8:01
want rhymes with font, the 'o' of 'won't' is the same as in woe or go. – user24964 Jan 24 '13 at 11:05

1 Answer 1

The vowels are pronounced differently in these two words.

In American English:

won't: oʊ (pronounced the same as the letter "O")

Lips: very rounded and tense.

Tongue: a bit tense, moves from mid to high position.

want: ɑ (pronounced the same as "o" in "hot") or ɔ (pronounced the same as "aw" in "saw")


Lips: Apart, as if you are yawning. Not rounded.

Tongue: Relaxed, flat at the floor of the mouth.


Lips: Apart, very slightly rounded, oval shaper.

Tongue: Slightly tense, down near the floor of the mouth.

while in British English:

won't: əʊ (pronounced the same as the letter "O")

want: ɒ (pronounced the same as the "o" in hot)


British "o" in hot(ɒ), has a very different pronunciation compared to the American "o" in hot(ɑ).

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There is also an American pronunciation of want where it rhymes with hunt (ʌ). And despite what the dictionary says, I believe the most American pronunciation I hear most is the one where it rhymes with font (but this may just be in the Northeast). – Peter Shor Jan 24 '13 at 17:57

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