"of" seems to be pronounced with the f sound asˈäf in phrases like "of course". But 'of' is pronounced as \əv in a lot of other cases.

Yet, Merriam Websters gives the one with 'v' sound as the only pronunciation.


Why is that? Why does the dictionary give the one with 'v' sound as the only pronunciation?

In what cases 'of' is pronounced with f versus pronounced with v sound?

  • I pronounce "of course" with the 'v' sound. That said, dictionaries may not cover all regional accents. – Matt Samuel Jun 21 '17 at 6:30
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    Words can be pronounced in all kinds of ways in combination with each other. The dictionary just describes the basic pronunciation of a word, and maybe a few common variants: it won't tell you all of the ways it can change depending on the surrounding words. You are probably just hearing non-phonemic devoicing of the word-final "lenis" obstruent /v/ before a voiceless consonant (/k/), as described in the answer to Are “whores” and “horse” homophones? This is a type of o a native speaker, this generally still sounds like /v/, not /f/. – herisson Jun 21 '17 at 7:16
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    Can you give some examples of where the pronunciation with /f/ is used? I've never heard it from a native speaker and I've heard quite a lot of different accents. Even fluent speakers of English as a second language don't do it IME, though they might confuse /f/ and /v/ at other times. And of course being a homophone for off course doesn't seem likely. – Chris H Jun 21 '17 at 7:22
  • Sorry about the mangled last sentence: I ran out of time while editing my previous comment. I meant to say "This is a type of partial phonetic assimilation" and "To a native speaker, this generally still sounds like /v/, not /f/." As Chris H says, an audio example would be helpful. – herisson Jun 21 '17 at 7:24
  • When does it have an "f" pronunciation??? – Arm the good guys in America Jun 21 '17 at 11:49

"Of" doesn't have "f" sound. It's always pronounced as "əv" to distinguish it from the word "off" which then is pronounced as "f" .

Bear in mind that I am referring to General English ( RP) the one taught in schools. We call it received pronunciation or RP in British English and that's the pronunciation similar to any dictionaries.

Regional pronunciation is another debate...

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  • This isn't the right answer. Of course is often pronounced with [f], because the phoneme /v/ turns into [f] when followed by some voiceless consonants. You're saying the OP isn't hearing things that he really is. Native English speakers' ears are trained to recognize this as a /v/ anyway. – Peter Shor Jun 21 '17 at 14:38
  • There may be some dialects where the F is pronounced more clearly as an F, but as a native Canadian English speaker who has heard many of the dialects, I confess that I have not heard this pronunciation in the wild. – Jim MacKenzie Jun 21 '17 at 14:39
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    @PeterShor I pronounce the of in of course the same way I pronounce it in of all, of Toronto, of the Village People. Your pronunciation may be dialectical. – Jim MacKenzie Jun 21 '17 at 14:40
  • The two people from the UK on forvo.com seem like they're saying uf course to me. Of course, it's possible they're using a consonant partway between an [f] and a [v]. But this could still confuse the OP. – Peter Shor Jun 21 '17 at 14:44
  • I would say OF COURSE is pronounced as any other OF, no exception. But then for some people there is a confusion between the sound F and V. In general pronunciation the " V " is a voiced sound whereas the "F" is voiceless. Nevertheless, between natives it's hard to distinguish but we do naturally voice or not voice the sound even though it's hard to hear. Indeed, in the UK we pronounce it in 2 different ways but only in regards to the syllable "ɒv" OR "əv" – Nissa - England Jun 21 '17 at 14:54

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