English W can be a tricky one for English learners, it’s not a v, h, b or u.

How to make the /w/ sound

To make a /w/ sound purse your lips together, like you’re going to kiss. Like this.

Don’t use your teeth, don’t blow quickly out of your mouth.

Why do you have cup on your head?

How to spell /w/

Usually W at the start of a word = /w/ way, water, wasp, watch, wear,Wednesday, wait, also swim, swam and swum.

/w/ is also spelt WH, as in what, when, why, where, white, while (but not who).

Sometimes the sound /w/ is not spelt with a letter W.  In one and once, language, question, square, and quite and quiet, the bold letter sounds like /w/. Listen to all these words here 

Silent letters

Poor letter W, we like you a lot because you help us understand the difference between two, to, and too; and who and hoo; and write and right, but we don’t want you to sound like /w/ in these words. Letter W is always silent in these words:

  • Answer, two, twice, who, whole, sword.

And in words that start with WR the W is never /w/ but always /r/

  • Write, wrong, wreck, wrinkle, wrist.

Listen to the words with silent W here.

The exceptions

So far so easy, right? But, when W follows A, E or O it makes a completely different sound.

The Ws in awful, brown, down, bowl, view, how, and know don’t sound like /w/, but they aren’t silent letters either. Here the letter W is making A, E and O into one long vowel sound. We’ll see more about this in another post. Sorry about that – but aw, ew, and ow are awesome sounds, you’ll love them when you get to know them.

Practice

While walking with my wife down the road, we saw a very, very wet boy.

White shirt, white shoes, white socks, white hat.

Very well, white bread, very fine white wine.

Views of the Wellington Water Park have really ramped up.

Listen to all these tongue twisters here.

Well, well, what do you think? Tell me your views on the sound /w/.

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