The consonant /l/ voiced, alveolar, liquid consonant

  • Touch your gum ridge (the hard spot behind your upper teeth) with the tip of your tongue.
  • Curl the sides of your tongue upwards.
  • Breathe out, pushing air to the sides of your mouth.
  • Your vocal cords should vibrate.

The consonant /l/ may be at the beginning of a word, in the middle of a word, or at the end of the word. If /l/ is at the end of the word or in a final consonant cluster, it has a slightly different sound and will be longer than other consonants. To pronounce /l/ at the end of a word, add a slight uh (/ə/) sound before /l/ and drop the pitch of your voice in the middle of the vowel. Enunciate the final consonant clearly.

  • "l" - mail, lose
  • "ll" - mall, yellow
  • "le" - sale, file


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Try to hear the /əl/ and pitch drop in these examples.
  • fail(FA-il)
  • meal (ME-al)
  • fuel (FU-el)
  • tile (TI-le)
  • world (WOR-ld)

The sound /l/ can be in these consonant clusters.
  • Beginning of a Syllable
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/kl/ ("kl" / “cl”) - klutz, closet
/gl/ ("gl") - glass
/bl/ ("bl") - blue
/pl/ ("pl") - please
/sl/ ("sl") - slow
/spl/ ("spl") - split
/fl/ ("fl") - fly
  • End of a Syllable
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/lb/ ("lb") - bulb
/lbz/ (“lbs”) - bulbs
/lp/ ("lp") - pulp
/lps/ ("lps")- helps
/lpt/ ("lped") - yelped
/lt/ ("lt")- built
/lts/ ("lts")- melts
/ld/ ("ld")- gold
/ldz/ (“lds”) - builds
/lz/ (“ls”) - nails
/ls/ (“lse”) - false
/lv/ (“lve”) - involve
/lvz/ (“lves”) - shelves
/lvd/ (“lved”) - solved
/lf/ ("lf")- elf
/ltʃ/ (“lch”) - mulch
/ltʃt/ (“lched”) - filched
/ldʒ/ (“lge”) - bulge
/ldʒd/ (“lged”) - indulged
/lʃ/ (“lsh”) - Welsh
/lm/ ("lm")- palm
/lmz/ (“lms”) - helms
/lmd/ ("lmed")- filmed

Grammar Tip:
The sound /l/ appears in several suffixes
  • “-ly” turns an adjective into an adverb
  • “-ful” turns a noun into an adjective
  • “-able” turns a noun or verb into an adjective
  •  “-al” often indicates an adjective
Listen to the examples:
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  • “-ly” : warmly, quickly, kindly
  • “-ful”: beautiful, wonderful, thoughtful
  • “-able”: movable, comfortable, variable
  • “-al”: actual, manual, gradual
Compare /l/ and /r/:
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The consonants /l/ and /r/ are both voiced, liquid consonants. However, /l/ is pronounced with the the tip of the tongue touching the gum ridge, while /r/ is pronounced with the tongue near (but not touching!) the roof of your mouth.

You can hear the difference between /l/ and /r/ in these words.
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1. A. lip, B. rip
2. A. climb, B. crime
3. A. feel, B. fear
4. A. balls, B. bars
5. A. halt, B. heart
6. A. peeling, B. peering



Listen and repeat these words:
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1. list
2. lake
3. lose
4. allow
5. silent
6. blue
7. sleeve
8. glass
9. please
10. climate
11. split
12. fall
13. steal
14. mail
15. kills
16. world
17. also
18. colder
19. celebrate
20. calculator

Now, practice /l/ in sentences. Say the words first, then the sentences.
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1. really - like - blueberries
I don't really like blueberries.
2. popular - class - school - biology
The most popular class in my school was biology.
3. always - clothes - laundromat
I always wash my clothes at the laundromat.
4. usually - call - people - cellphone
I usually call people on my cellphone.
5. close - all - family
Are you close to all of your family?
6. trouble - solving - problem
I'm having trouble solving this problem.

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