Skip to 0 minutes and 1 secondClear and Dark L. In English, the consonant L is pronounced in two different ways, depending on the position of the consonant in a word, very similar to the phenomenon of rhoticity, in fact. When L precedes a vowel, as in the words "light" and "late," it is pronounced with the tip of the tongue against the alveolar ridge, the area just behind the front teeth. This pronunciation of L is called "clear L." When L precedes a consonant or occurs at the end of a word, as in the words "fool" and "ball," an additional movement is made with the back of the tongue, which is raised towards the velum. This pronunciation of L is called "dark L".

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 secondsNote that in words like "pole," L also occurs at the end of a word because the last vowel letter, E, is silent, that is, not pronounced, hence, "dark L."

Skip to 1 minute and 8 secondsSpeakers of some native as well as non-native varieties of English pronounce L as "clear L" in all positions. Thus, they pronounce "light," "late," and "fool," "ball."

Skip to 1 minute and 25 secondsIf you don't make the distinction naturally, then please listen and repeat "dark L" after me. "Fool", "ball", "pole", "well", "pull", "mill."

Clear and dark l

In English, the consonant ‘l’ can be pronounced two different ways, depending on the position of ‘l’ in a word. The two different pronunciations are called: clear l and dark l. Learn more about clear and dark l in this video.

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This video is from the free online course:

English Pronunciation in a Global World

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam