It May be April Fool’s Day, but Don’t be Fooled by the English Pronunciation of OO

Did you ever wonder why today is called April Fool’s Day? Apparently, it’s all because of King Charles IX, way back in 1564. He decided to change the official calendar of France and move the New Year celebrations from April 1 back to January 1. Some rebellious Frenchmen were resistant to the change and continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1. They became known as “April Fools”, and it became tradition over the years to play jokes on people on April 1. Several other countries have developed their own unique April Fool’s Day celebrations. In France, the victim is called an “April fish” and in England he is called a “noodle”.

And this brings me to the English pronunciation tip of the day — dealing with the tricky OO sound, as in noodle and fool. Often, the OO sound is long, as in those words and words like school, room, boot, moon, and goose. But occasionally, it has a shorter sound, as in book, took, look, cook, foot, and cookie. How do you know which pronunciation of OO to use when you see it in words?

I have come up with a rule that works in most situations:

In general, if “oo” is followed by a K, it is short, and otherwise, it is long.

Exceptions: foot, soot, and stood, which use the short sound.

Try saying the words below out loud: (Be sure to click on the icon at the bottom to hear me read the words out loud for you)

Long OO sound

  • fool
  • tool
  • school
  • cool
  • scoop
  • room
  • boot
  • goose
  • loose
  • moose
  • moon
  • noon
  • poodle
  • root
  • noodle
  • scoot
  • shoot

Short OO sound

  • book
  • shook
  • rook
  • took
  • look
  • cook
  • hook
  • nook
  • cookie
  • foot
  • soot
  • stood

Now try saying these practice sentences out loud:

Long OO

  • The fool tried to look cool on his way to school.
  • Use a tool to scoop the dirt.
  • A goose is loose in my room.
  • Stay cool! A moose is nearby.
  • You cannot see the moon at noon.
  • Oh, shoot! The poodle is eating my noodles.
  • I need to scoot this plant away from the tree root.

Short OO

  • I took a look at the book in the nook.
  • The cook dropped a cookie on his foot.
  • The rook was covered in soot.
  • The fish hook caught in her foot.
  • He shook the box of books.

Combined Sounds

  • Look at that fool eating a cookie at school.
  • Put your foot in the boot before you leave the room.
  • The moose shook his head at the moon.
  • The goose stood on the book at noon.
  • Be careful! Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.
  • Scoot your poodle away from the nook full of tools.

Now you’ve had the chance to practice the OO sounds. Download a recording of this blogpost below, and practice the words and sentences while you listen to me say them out loud. Keep working on them until they feel natural to you. That way, the English pronunciation of the OO sound won’t fool you on April Fool’s Day or any other day!

Download [Duration: 5:17 | Size: 4.8 MB]

For more pronunciation tips, be sure to get my FREE guide, How to Speak English Like an American, by visiting www.losemyaccent.com.