Learn how to say the difference between ‘want’ and ‘wont’ in an American accent!

Hi, it’s Lee’at here from Speak More Clearly!

Recently I’ve been asked a few times how to say the difference between ‘want’ and ‘won’t’. It can be tricky to hear the difference or know what to do in your mouth to say them clearly. 


How to Pronounce the American English Word: Want

Let’s start with ‘want’

The word ‘want’ is said as if it’s spelt ‘wont’ /wɑːnt/

So w-’o’ nt. The American  ‘o’ sound, as in ‘hot’.

Your jaw is dropped and your lips are relaxed, and your tongue tip gently touches behind your bottom front teeth.  ‘o’ /ɑː/ vowel.  

Let’s practise! (watch the video above to practise with the trainer)

want /wɑːnt/


How to Pronounce the American English Word: Won’t

For the word ‘won’t’

You need to say a proper ‘oe’ /oʊ/ diphthong, and not leave out the short ‘oo’ sound before the ‘n’ in won’t. 

The ‘oe’ vowel is made up of  the ‘o’  and  a short ‘oo’   /oʊ/   

Drop your jaw for the ‘o’, and then lips forward for the short ‘oo’ 

So you need to put your lips forward for the short ‘oo’ before you say the /n/ in won’t. Like when you say ‘don’t’.  

Let’s practise! (practise your English speech with the coach in our free lesson above)

won’t  ( wo-oont– ‘oont’)       

won’t   ( wo-oont)  

So not wahnt,  but wo-oont


Let’s say it more quickly, and still put your lips forward quickly for the 2nd part of ‘oe’, before the /n/. 

won’t /woʊnt/


English Fluency Practise Tip – How to make the new sounds easy to say:

You may have to practise this word very slowly 10 times in a row at first to make sure your mouth is getting used to having lips forward before the /n/ before you speed up a little.


Comparison of the two words ‘want’ and ‘won’t’ with American Pronunciation

Let’s practise the 2 words together!

want     /wɑːnt/

won’t  /woʊnt/

I hope that has made it clearer for you. 

For more pronunciation tips, check out this video lesson on the difference in pronunciation between the words ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ for an American accent.

Don’t forget that there’s detailed training and practice work in our American accent online course, for the ‘o’ and ‘oe’ vowels as well. 



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