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The preposition "of" and the adverb "off"

The pronunciation of the words "of" and "off" is often confused. Although they both end with the letter "f", the pronunciation of the final sounds differs.
Listen to the person in the audio file pronouncing the two words. Try to guess whether she pronounces "of" or "off" first. Match the words with the numbers 1 and 2 via drag and drop to guess the right order.
 
 
 
  • off
     
  • of
     
  • 1.
     
  • 2.
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
When you look at the IPA transcripts of the two words, you can see the difference:
  • "Of" is a preposition. Its IPA transcript is [ɒv].
  • "Off" is an adverb. Its IPA transcript is [ɒf].

The pronunciation of the preposition "of"

"Of" ends with the [v] sound. This sound has the following characteristics:
  • When producing it, air flows through the mouth. You can test this by pronouncing the sound and holding one hand in front of your mouth.
  • It is articulated using the lower lips and the upper teeth: the lower lips are slightly put behind or against the upper teeth. If you want to emphasise the pronunciation of the sound, make your upper lips vibrate.
  • Its phonation is "voiced". That means that you let your vocal cords vibrate when pronouncing it.

The pronunciation of the adverb "off"

"Off" ends with the [f] sound. This sound has the following characteristics:
  • When producing it, air flows through the mouth. You can test this by pronouncing the sound and holding one hand in front of your mouth.
  • It is articulated using the lower lips and the upper teeth. The upper lips do not vibrate.
  • Its phonation is "voiceless". That means that you do not let your vocal cords vibrate when pronouncing it.
 
The two sounds are very similar. They almost have the same characteristics but there is one difference. What is it? Look at the question below and answer it.
 
 
 
  • How does the pronunciation of the adverb "off" differ from the pronunciation of the preposition "of"?
     
    • When pronouncing "off", you do not let your vocal cords vibrate. Thus, your upper lips do not vibrate as well.
       
    • When pronouncing "off", you do not produce an air flow.
       
    • When pronouncing "off", you produce the sound with your tongue and your lower teeth.
       
 
 
 
 

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