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7.6: The Diphthong

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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The Diphthong [ou˙]

1. A diphthong runs together two vowel sounds. In the diphthong [ou˙] the two sounds are [o] and [u˙]. When we run the two together, we say something that sounds like “ow,” as in cow and cloud and crown. The word diphthong is pronounced [di´f-thong]. It combines two Greek elements: di-, which means “two,” and phthong, which means “sound.”

2. In the words below underline the letters that spell the diphthong [ou˙]:


3. Now sort these sixteen words into these two groups:

Words in which
<ou> <ow>
account cloudy powerful crowded
mouth doubt flower vowel
ground thousand downtown allowance
amount mountain however

Word Squamble. A Squamble combines a Word Squares with a Word Scramble. Unscramble the sixteen scrambled words below. Then fit them into the rows and columns of the Squares. The number of the scrambled word is the same as the number of the row or column it fits into in the Squares. As you unscramble each word, fit it into the Squares, and that will give you clues about how to unscramble other words. Two other clues: All of the words contain the diphthong [ou˙], and in the Squares we have written in the letters that spell the [ou˙] sound.


1. redugond = grounded

2. dworced = crowded

5. cutcoan = account

7. shadnuto = thousand

8. walldoe = allowed

9. herevow = however

10. outinman = mouthful

11. dranou = amount


3. rewolf = flowers

4. rudon = round

6. coylud = cloudy

10. humotluf = mountain

11. manout = around

12. prewo = power

13. dobudet = doubted

14. swond = downs

Teaching Notes.

In the Basic Speller we recognize only two diphthongs, [ou˙] and [oi]. Technically the sound we symbolize [i¯], long <i>, is a diphthong, which could be symbolized [oe¯]: If you say “ah” and “ee”, running the two together, you get a sound like [i¯]. And people who speak various dialects with various personal accents often diphthongize other vowels. But we will work with just the two, [ou˙] and [oi].

The diphthong [ou˙] is spelled <ou> about twice as often as it is spelled <ow>. There is some overlap between the two, but <ow> usually occurs at the end of words and before vowels. For more on the spelling of [ou˙], see AES, pp. 303-06, where it is symbolized [au˙].

Item 1. For the record, we also have the words monophthong and triphthong, which refer, respectively, to one and three vowel sounds.

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Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
Last Modified:
Jul 07, 2015
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