Do Americans pronounce ‘I’ll’ as ‘all [ɔ:l]' as an American ESL teacher says, frequently?

[Her YouTube Channel] enter image description here

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    When I'm not speaking slowly and carefully, I pronounce I'll as /ɑl/ (with the vowel of father and pollen, not of all). But the dictionaries say it rhymes with tile, and from the answers, it seems that there are a lot of Americans who pronounce it "correctly". Mar 16, 2013 at 12:21

5 Answers 5


I'll and all are homophones in many dialects, including mine. In many other dialects, I'll, isle, and aisle are homophones. Generally, either of these pronunciations will apply. It seems that the first is more common in American dialects and that the second is more common in British dialects.

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    I think OP needs to recognise Wikipedia's point, that Phonemic differentiation may vary between different dialects of a language, so that a particular minimal pair in one accent is a pair of homophones in another. Asking how "Americans" pronounce some particular phonological element doesn't seem particularly constructive. To my ear, in a "cut glass" upper-class British accent, I'll sounds like earl, and I doubt I could hear any difference between the contracted verb and the nobleman, coming from such a speaker. Mar 15, 2013 at 15:30
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    +1 for I'll being much closer to aisle than all. That's the way this North American says it.
    – J.R.
    Mar 15, 2013 at 16:43
  • I'm no expert on American pronunciation (which obviously varies by region / time / sociolinguistic community), but if I imagine a typical uneducated cowboy/hillbilly saying "Well I'll be darned!" those first two vowels seem like homophones to me - "Wahl arle be darned!". Mar 15, 2013 at 17:53
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    Her "I'll" is not so much a homophone to her claimed "all" than a schwa or perhaps "uhll". In my own (SE England) speech, it's normally "aisle" but in unstressed rapid speech may become "ahll" and even a slight 'r' towards "ahrll".
    – toandfro
    Oct 6, 2013 at 20:20
  • It's more common in American dialects? Which American dialects?
    – cowlinator
    Jun 1, 2020 at 18:24

I already lived with an American boy and I remember the fact that he pronounced "I'll" approximately as "all", so this sounds true for me. :-)


I'll is not really pronounced the same as isle or aisle in American English in normal speech. When said to read "I'll" in an isolated position some people might pronounce it as isle or aisle. In reality it is always pronounced as if it rhymes with doll in American English. It is a similar situation with the word "to." If isolated (or in quotation marks like I just did) Americans will pronounce the same as too or two. However, it is almost always pronounced with a schwa unless it's at the end of a sentence, for example: "I don't want to." Regarding the pronunciation of "all" and "I'll" being the same, in the General American accent, they are not. I have seen the Rachel's English videos before and I would have to say that is the main problem that I have with her. She teaches the cot-caught merger which is not standard. So, in conclusion "I'll" is not pronounced like "all" or "isle/aisle" in the General American accent. It is pronounced like "doll" but without the d.

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    This is factually incorrect; while it may be true in some regions, I can attest that in most of the South there's no aural distinction between "aisle" and "I'll". Oct 7, 2013 at 2:10
  • I was not speaking of regions of the United States I was only speaking of General American. Oct 7, 2013 at 4:08
  • There's no such thing as "General American". Oct 7, 2013 at 4:32
  • If you look it up, it does exist and there are several regional accents that are comparable to it. Oct 8, 2013 at 0:34

In American English, I'll [aɪl] is usually pronounced as "al," much like "isle." A common example would be I'll go to the store later. Which sounds like Al go to the store later. When the word's length is dragged out, it has a more southern accent, while when it is short and crisp, it is more like a northern accent.

Note that it is not pronounced "Ahh-l".

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    Al rhymes with pal, and I'll rhymes with while. While some dialects might pronounce al and I'll similarly, I don't think that's a good way to describe how to pronounce "I'll". It's also worth noting that "all" (which is what the O.P. inquired about) and "al" (which is what you have in your answer) are not pronounced the same.
    – J.R.
    Mar 16, 2013 at 11:23
  • @J.R.: I agree that I'll rhymes with while, but do both of these rhyme with tile or tall? Mar 16, 2013 at 11:44
  • @PeterShor: Yes to tile, most certainly not with tall, although I've moved around the U.S. a lot – enough to know that I'd be naive to strongly aver that no one rhymes those. (I've known some folks who pronounce "pen" and "pin" as near homophones, for example, but that's more the exception than the rule.)
    – J.R.
    Mar 16, 2013 at 11:51
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    @J.R.: I am fairly sure that many of the Americans who pronounce I'll to rhyme with all do the same thing with while, but not tile. I do this myself when I'm not speaking slowly and carefully. Mar 16, 2013 at 11:55
  • @PeterShor: I don't recall hearing that, but I'll be on the lookout for it. Note: the (sometimes-rhyming?) words recall and I'll are intentionally embedded in my response. :^) On a side note, I had a friend from Richmond, Virginia who rhymed "oil" and "bowl"; I wouldn't call that "standard" pronunciation, but I obviously can't call it "invalid," either – that's the way he said it.
    – J.R.
    Mar 16, 2013 at 11:59

Yes, it's always pronounced the same as all in American English.

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    “Always” is a pretty strong word here, with 300,000,000 people speaking American English, plus a wide array of local accents. Moreover, the dictionaries disagree with your answer; if you look at the pronunciation guides, I'll is listed as a homophone of aisle, not all.
    – J.R.
    Mar 16, 2013 at 11:18

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