I know that the /v/ sound at the of the word have is sometimes pronounced as /f/ in the phrase have to, which becomes /ˈhæftə/.

Is there a similar thing where the /v/ sound at end of the word of ever gets pronounced as /f/ when it’s followed by particular sounds?


2 Answers 2


There is a difference between the pronunciation of the "v" in have and the "f" in of.

The two sentences

I have two fine dogs,
I have to fine dogs,

mean different things. (I possess two excellent dogs, and I am required to impose monetary penalties on dogs.) In all standard varieties of English, they are distinguished in pronunciation by a /v/ in the first and an /f/ in the second, and the resulting change in the length of the vowel /æ/. The change from /v/ to /f/ does not depend on the consonant following it, but on the meaning of have.

On the other hand, the pronunciation of the /v/ in "of" may change, but it doesn't depend on the meaning. English speakers have a tendency to devoice or partially devoice /v/, /z/, /ð/, /ʒ/ at the end of words. See this presentation. However, we can still usually tell that they're supposed to be voiced consonants, partly by the length of the preceding vowel and partly by context.

I can imagine whether the pronunciation of "f" in of is more like an [f] or a [v] depends on the consonant after the of, the speaker's dialect, how carefully they are enunciating, whether they are speaking formally or informally, and how much stress they put on the word of. But the pronunciation of /f/ or /v/ in of does not change the meaning of the sentence. So in of, one can think of an [f] pronunciation as being an allophone of /v/, while in have to, the actual underlying phoneme is /f/.

  • 2
    If you were playing cards and held the six of spades, the of there would virtually be just an unstressed schwa without any consonant at all: /ə/. So in some senses, the /v/ doesn't so much devoice as disappear in those conditions, just as it can when an unstressed have is said quickly in connected speech.
    – tchrist
    Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 15:38
  • Great answer. Especially the explanation leading upto the last sentence. Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 0:28

I have never heard of any rule which states that you must change the 'v' sound in the word 'have' to an 'f' sound. I think this is a tendancy of some modern, uncertain--or uncaring--speakers, but, again, I have never heard any such ruling for this case.

The same applies to the 'v' sound in the word 'of'; I have never heard the word 'of' pronounced with an 'f', except in contexts of humor.

Overall, it must come down to dialect. I'm sure where a person is from influences the way they speak the sounds within a word, but that's as far as my understanding has taken me in speaking my native tongue. haha

I hope this helps, and have a great day!

  • 2
    Many people pronounce have to as "haff to", and has to as "hass to". No ruling is necessary to determine that this is the case. See the following post: Pronunciation of “have” in “I don't have to” {do something}
    – herisson
    Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 7:15
  • Agreed, as far as the evidence goes, but with this being an English language site it is neccessary to first state the rulings of the language then, second, state the common tendancies of the native speakers.
    – user265387
    Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 7:23
  • I think it depends on what the original poster is looking for. If the question had specified something like "in careful speech" or "according to authorities" it would make sense to ignore common usage to some extent, but it just asks "Is there a similar thing" which is kind of vague and might include even careless pronunciation variants.
    – herisson
    Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 7:27
  • @sumelic I would agree that pronouncing have to as "haff to" is perfectly usual in British "received pronunciation" - and is not limited to dialect forms. The OP should be aware that pronouncing of with an "f", and not a "v" would confuse it with "off", which is said with an "f" ending.
    – WS2
    Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 7:41
  • That's one way of thinking about it, but there is the notion of guidance. If you guide a person to the most appropriate source in the first place then you will save them time in the long run. The answer which will save the original poster time is this: there is no legal ruling stating that a phonetic 'f' be placed in either of these words, but it is a common practice among native speakers to alter the pronunciation depending on area.
    – user265387
    Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 7:42

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