Monday, October 3, 2022
HomeEnglish LanguageThe Final Information to Darkish L and Gentle L for English Pronunciation

The Final Information to Darkish L and Gentle L for English Pronunciation

What do travel, musicals, love and language have in widespread?

They’re all phrases that include the letter L, however these L’s aren’t pronounced the identical manner.

It’s not apparent, however there are literally two sorts of L in English: the darkish L and the sunshine L.

To get you up to the mark, we’ve put collectively a information under that explains these two variations of the L sound.


The way to Pronounce Darkish L and Gentle L in English 

The English alphabet may solely have 26 letters, however these letters can produce all kinds of sounds. Most of the letters can truly be pronounced in multiple manner. With the letter L, you’ll be able to pronounce it as both a darkish L or a lightweight L. 

The L that you just already find out about is more likely to be the sunshine L. That is the L that was launched to you whenever you had been choosing up the English alphabet.

Its lesser-known sibling is the darkish L, which seems surprisingly usually (though it doesn’t get as a lot consideration).

Let’s get to know each of those L sounds: 

1. Gentle L

IPA Image: The sunshine L’s IPA (Worldwide Phonetic Alphabet) image is easy—you’ll see it written as /l/ in pronunciation guides.

Key phrase: “Love”

When to make use of it: Earlier than a vowel or earlier than the letter Y

The way to pronounce it:

  1. Put the tip of your tongue on the bony ridge behind your entrance enamel.
  2. Make a sound as you push along with your tongue. Should you maintain this, you’re already saying the L sound as Lllllll!
  3. Raise your tongue off the ridge as you progress on to the subsequent vowel.

Whenever you’re saying the sunshine L in on a regular basis conversations, it’ll really feel like a fast faucet along with your tongue. Bear in mind to exert sufficient strain, although, whenever you make the faucet! A typical mistake is tapping manner too flippantly—the L sound must be clearly heard.


If a phrase begins with L, you’ll be able to make sure that it’s a lightweight L. For instance: language, mild, love, final, look.

The sunshine L additionally seems in the course of a phrase so long as it’s earlier than a vowel. For instance: worth, feeling, daylight, interesting. 

Attempt it out:

Larry left behind a lengthy letter for his buddy.

After my language class final night, I used to be much less nervous about talking in English.

2. Darkish L

IPA Image: The darkish L has its personal image, which is0/ɫ/, however typically it’s lumped in with the sunshine L as /l/ in pronunciation guides.

Key phrase: “Ball”

When to make use of it: After a vowel or the letter Y

The way to pronounce it:

  1. There’s at all times a vowel earlier than the darkish L. Since it may be difficult to pronounce the darkish L by itself, begin by saying the vowel, first. With the phrase “ball,” the vowel can be A.
  2. For the precise darkish L sound, transfer your tongue so the tip is reaching up and near the bony ridge behind the entrance enamel however not touching.
  3. On the similar time, the again of your tongue can be arching up a bit of in direction of your taste bud.
  4. Use your voice now. You recognize you’re doing it proper if you happen to can really feel a constriction in your throat as you make the sound!


The best to identify placement of the darkish L can be on the finish of phrases. For instance: ball, spill, fell, patrol, sail.

You’ll additionally spot it in the course of phrases so long as it’s after a vowel. For instance: at all times, nearly, salt, fashion, milk.

Should you see L after a TT or DD, that’s a darkish L too! For instance: bottle, fiddle, little, citadel, rattle. It is because as you transition from the T or D to L, you must make a fast uh sound, which counts as a vowel.

Attempt it out:

I’d moderately ship an e mail to the faculty as a substitute of attempting to name.

They’re having a pool social gathering this fall to welcome new members. 

Does It Matter Which L Sound You Use in English? 

The fast reply to that is: sure, it does.

Should you solely use one sort of L and ignore the opposite, this adjustments the rhythm of the way you communicate English. Just like music, English has its personal beat and melody. Even with the best phrases, in case your rhythm is off, it’s going to sound a bit of jarring.

The individual you’re speaking to should put extra effort into understanding you as a result of they’re not used to listening to it like that. The worst-case state of affairs is they may even ask you to repeat what you mentioned!

No matter your first language, it’s possible that as an English learner, there’s one sort of L sound that you just’re far more snug with. The opposite sort of L may really feel awkward, so that you don’t use it as a lot. Some English learners may not even acknowledge both the sunshine L or darkish L as a sound!

There are tons of examples of this. Simply to call a couple of:

  • Russian audio system favor the darkish L nearly on a regular basis, which may give their English a heavier accent. 
  • Chinese language audio system have a tendency to listen to the darkish L as W at first.
  • Japanese audio system may wrestle to inform aside R and the sunshine L.

Due to these language variations, it usually pays to verify which L variant you’re probably overusing—and to commit some consideration to the opposite L variant so you’ll be able to right any mispronunciations.

Scroll right down to the underside of this put up for a free PDF worksheet with quizzes and workouts that’ll provide help to distinguish between the sunshine L and darkish L. The extra you encounter every sort of L, the higher they’ll stick in your thoughts so you’ll be able to say them with ease!

Ideas for Saying Darkish L and Gentle L 

Able to put what you’ve discovered in regards to the darkish L and the sunshine L into observe? Right here’s how one can deepen your understanding of the variations between these two L sounds:

1. Take note of your mouth and tongue positioning.

It’s extra thrilling to leap straight into the vocabulary, however shortly going over your mouth positioning for difficult particular person sounds may be very a lot worthwhile! In any case, you’ll encounter the L sound in English again and again. 

Though they’re each L sounds, the sunshine L and darkish L have variations of their mouth positioning:

  • The sunshine L’s mouth positioning is fairly easy—simply level your tongue to the bony ridge above your enamel.
  • For the darkish L, you’ll be able to think about your tongue as forming a U form that’s a bit flat. The again and tip of your tongue are up, whereas the center of your tongue is barely down. General, your tongue can also be additional again in your mouth. 

To sum it up, the again of your tongue is tense and arching up with the darkish L, however not with the sunshine L. 

2. Consider the darkish L as being made up of two sounds.

There’s a motive why the sunshine L is the one which’s primarily taught to English learners—it’s primarily only one sound.

the darkish L is made up of two sounds: uh adopted by L. Should you say the darkish L in sluggish movement, the uh is produced as you increase the again of your tongue, then the L follows whenever you increase the tip.

3. Take a look at out your darkish L vs. mild L abilities by studying out loud. 

As soon as you are feeling such as you’ve gotten a grasp of the right way to pronounce the sunshine L and darkish L individually, you’ll be able to degree as much as studying full-on phrases and sentences.

Seize an English e book or article (this weblog put up works, too!) and select a paragraph. Then, begin trying to find phrases with the letter L.

For every phrase, ask your self: is the L right here a lightweight L or a darkish L?

Bear in mind our fundamental guidelines for L sounds:

  • If the L is earlier than a vowel, then it’s a lightweight L.
  • If the L is after a vowel, that’s a darkish L. 

Learn the L phrases out loud one after the other. It’s okay to actually decelerate and to really feel out the phrase. Your focus right here might be on saying it nicely!

Should you’re not sure about your pronunciation, search for the phrase on an internet dictionary similar to Collins or Merriam-Webster and pay attention carefully to the audio for that phrase. Lastly, learn the complete paragraph.

This may be actually efficient as a DIY drill since you’ll get more and more snug with saying each sorts of L.

4. Reap the benefits of movies and podcasts. 

It’s normally simpler to consider your pronunciation whenever you’re studying as a result of you’ll be able to decelerate. However right here’s one other problem: bump it up by imitating native audio system in movies and podcasts.

Whenever you’re beginning out, you’ll be able to stick to movies that pronounce phrases with the L sound one after the other. This video lists down phrases for each the sunshine L and the darkish L:

Should you’re prepared to maneuver on to genuine English as a substitute of pronunciation workouts, you’ll be able to watch movies that includes native audio system. Notice that these movies will function far more than simply the L sound, so by listening to them and mimicking the audio system, you’ll be able to enhance your English pronunciation as an entire.

You could find genuine English movies on video-hosting web sites or language studying applications like FluentU. In FluentU’s case, clips are outfitted with interactive subtitles, so you’ll be able to click on a phrase to get its which means, pronunciation and instance sentences. Customized quizzes are additionally included that allow you to observe your pronunciation.


5. Mess around with L sound tongue twisters. 

Tongue twisters are phrases or sentences that even native audio system wrestle to pronounce, particularly after they must say the phrases quicker and quicker! These normally have similar-sounding phrases. For instance, one widespread tongue tornado has the phrases “batter,” “bitter,” “butter” and “higher” nearly subsequent to one another.

There are many tongue twisters on the market that function the L sound, so you’ll be able to have a little bit of enjoyable with them. Right here’s one from Dr. Seuss’ “Fox in Socks” that goes all in with that mild L:

Luke Luck likes lakes.
Luke’s duck likes lakes.
Luke Luck licks lakes.
Luck’s duck licks lakes.
Duck takes licks in lakes Luke Luck likes.
Luke Luck takes licks in lakes duck likes.

This darkish L tongue tornado is shorter, but it surely’s nonetheless a problem to say:  

Pale of ail aiding Al’s travails as frail sails flail.

For a mixture of mild L and darkish L phrases, take a look at these two tongue twisters:

I slit the silk, the silk I slit, and on the slitted silk I fall flippantly.

Seventeen gross sales slips slithered slowly southwards.


Now that you just’ve discovered all in regards to the variations between the sunshine L and the darkish L, you gained’t see the L sound in English the identical manner once more.

In reality, so most of the letters in English could be pronounced in multiple manner. The extra fluidly you’ll be able to say all of those sounds, the nearer you’ll be to talking English like a local. 

You’ll spot greater than 10 L’s within the earlier paragraph, so working towards each sorts of L will certainly come in useful—possibly as quickly as your subsequent English sentence!

To get the cling of it, scroll down for a free PDF worksheet that can drill you on each the darkish L and the sunshine L. It consists of L-related vocabulary and phrases chosen by our English professional, full with a solution key so that you’ll know you’re heading in the right direction.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments