“Indonesia has likened Australia's spying efforts to a Cold War tactic and says it would like an explanation within a couple of days. (ABC.net.au)”

It’s not easy for me to catch the /w/ sound in general. And I wonder if would in the audio was pronounced with /w/ (strong form, CGEL p1613) or not (weak form). I’d like some tips on how to pronounce the sound and catch it. (Even though I myself tried with BBC Learning English and so forth, it’s like sailing through without foghorn on dimly lit routes.)


1 Answer 1


There are a couple of possibilities for /w/ in English. I'm not sure if you're referring to orthography specifically or linguistics in general, so I'll briefly give you a few examples of each.

The strong form would be the /w/ in would, wood, bowl, etc.

The weaker form is /hw/, with a barely audible (if at all) /h/. It's a softer sound found in words like who, what, why, etc.

It depends on the speaker's dialect, but sometimes this difference can be heard in words like welp/whelp, but not all speakers exhibit this.

And on the off chance that you're strictly asking about orthography, as a vowel, w is like the u in the words duo, and bough, or the w in cow*. In this use, it's similar to the Greek letter Omega. (Also heard at the end of the words do and dew)

  • The words do and dew are not always pronounced the same. That depends on dialect.
    – Tristan
    Nov 29, 2013 at 10:40
  • 1
    @Tristan Yes you are correct; I was referencing General American. It's impossible to answer questions on phonology universally because of the wide range of dialects. Nov 29, 2013 at 18:45
  • That's a good point, John.
    – Tristan
    Nov 30, 2013 at 16:47
  • In nearly all dialects of English, which is pronounced exactly the same way as witch today. That's not the weak form the OP is talking about. Dec 29, 2023 at 13:56

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