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The letter L doesn't always behave as you expect it to! In this pronunciation special Helen explains the mysterious 'dark L'. Find out what it is in Stop Saying.

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Stop Saying!

The 'dark L'

You know how to pronounce the letter L, right? Well, actually, it might not be so simple. Helen demonstrates the 'dark L' for us in this video, which is somewhere between the sound of a letter L and a letter W.

 

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Summary

Dark L
As Helen said, it's somewhere between an L and a W. It's actually very common, especially when people speak fast, and in certain accents, like Cockney (a type of London accent). It's usually pronounced this way at the end of a word, when following a vowel. But not when the next word begins with a vowel. For example:

  • Hi, my names Neil.(This is usually a dark L)
  • Hi, my name's Neil Edwards. (This time the L is followed by a word which started with a vowel, so it's usually a light L)

Helen uses it in the words: ball, almost, feel, older, kneel, peel, smile

Light L
This is what we think of as the normal L sound. It's usually pronounced at the start of a word, like lion, after a consonant, like clear, or before a vowel, like feeling.

Helen uses it in the words: silence, clearly, carefully

Silent L
As you know, English spelling is tricky – and doesn't follow the rules. In some words, such as talk, calm and walk – we don't pronounce the L at all, it's silent.

To do

Listen carefully to the examples in this quiz and tell us whether they are examples of the dark L, silent L or light L.

Darkness and light

6 Questions

Listen carefully to the examples in these questions and tell us whether they are examples of dark L, silent L or the light L.

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Excellent! เยี่ยม! แย่หน่อย! คุณทำคะแนนได้:
x / y

End of session

That's the end of this section. Congratulations on finishing the page.

Many thanks to the staff and students of Bell London school for their help with this video.

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