Lesson Twenty-Six: Light L and Dark L (Part Two)
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Lesson 26 of English Jade teaches you the pronunciation of light /l/ and dark /l/ in English (this lesson is part two of three on this topic). Getting the pronunciation of dark /l/ right leads to a clear, native-speaker level English accent. In this lesson you will practice the dark /l/ and light /l/ in example words and phrases. Note: This speaking skills training to practice dark /l/ is for high-level professionals.


In the previous lesson, I explained how to pronounce light /l/ and dark /l/. We also learned two basic pronunciation rules:

  1. A word that begins with an /l/ has light /l/ pronunciation: ‘like’, ‘love’ and ‘lips’
  2. A word that ends with an /l/ sound has dark /l/ pronunciation: ‘bell’, ‘goal’ and ‘mail’

But what about when the /l/ sound isn’t at the beginning or the end of a word? Which /l/ sound should we pronounce then? The pronunciation rules for this are: 

  1. Light /l/ always goes before the vowel in the syllable
  2. Dark /l/ always follows the vowel in the syllable

This sounds easy enough, but in practice, these pronunciation rules are almost impossible to apply. This is because we often don’t know where the syllables in a word naturally break. We need to look up the IPA transcription of a word in a dictionary to know where the syllables break. Of course, when we are speaking in real-life, we don’t have a dictionary to refer to. Instead, native speakers intuitively break up a word into syllables where it ‘feels right’. This leads to variation in the pronunciation of words. 

The words in this lesson are grouped according to spelling patterns. You will see that even words with the same spelling pattern at times have a different /l/ pronunciation. This is infuriating and random – but unfortunately, my friend, that’s the English language for you. The pronunciation and spelling of English has a lot of irregularities.

Here are a few example dark L words taken from the lesson…


Light L Examples:

claim

clothes

flood

glorious

pleasant

Dark L Examples:

child

world

difficult

elf

album

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About Jade Joddle Jade Joddle is a speech and voice teacher who gives her non-native speaker clients back the confidence they had in their native language. She teaches high-level professionals to Speak Well in English so that they thrive and succeed.