How to pronounce ‘al’

Listen to the following words. How many pronunciations can you hear for ‘al’?

calm      calf      talk      tall       pale

There are three pronunciations: /ɑː/ in ‘calm’ and ‘calf’, /ɔː/ in ‘talk’ and ‘tall’, /eɪl/ in ‘pale’

How does the pronunciation of ‘al’ change?

There are many different ways of pronouncing ‘al’, but the more common patterns are:

  • ‘alm’ and ‘alf’ both usually have a silent ‘l’ and vowel sound /ɑː/
  • ‘alk’ usually has a silent ‘l’ and vowel sound /ɔː/
  • ‘all’ is usually pronounced /ɔːl/
  • ‘ale’ is usually pronounced /eɪl/


Repeat the following:


Decide how to pronounce each word containing ‘al’:

A.  Don’t walk on top of that wall in the gale!
B.  This tall part of the plant is called the stalk.
C.  First calm down, then we’ll talk about all your problems.
E.  I bought a toy whale in the sale at the mall.

A.  walk /wɔːk/, wall /wɔːl/, gale /geɪl/
B.  tall /tɔːl/, called /kɔːld/, stalk /stɔːk/
C.  calm /kɑːm/, talk /tɔːk/, all /ɔːl/
D.  calf /kɑːf/, stall /stɔːl/, bale /beɪl/
E.  whale /weɪl/, sale /seɪl/, mall /mɔːl/
F.  call /kɔːl/, palm /pɑːm/, Wales /weɪlz/