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

  • 2
    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

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).

  • 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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