How to Pronounce POOL vs. PULL: English Conversation

In this American English pronunciation video,
we’re going to go over the pronunciation of two similar words – pool and pull. This video is sponsored by Lingoda Online Language School. More information at the end
of the video. This word pair is difficult. Thanks to those
who requested this video. The only thing that’s different here is the
vowel. Both words start with the P consonant and end with the dark L. The vowel in pool
is the OO vowel and the vowel in pull is the UH vowel like in “book” or “sugar”.
First, let’s talk about the OO vowel. I hope you’ve seen my video that goes over the sound
in detail. I’ll put a link to it at the end of this video. Basically, the lips start somewhat
relaxed and come into a tight circle, oo, oo. The tongue lifts in the back. Let’s see
what that looks like up close and in slow motion.
Pool. Lips pressed together for the P. They release
and the lips come into a tight circle. This space in the mouth looks dark because the
tongue is pulled up in the back. Now, the lips relax out and the tongue tip comes forward
for the L. Pool, pool
Did you notice an “uh” sound before the L?
Pool. That’s the dark L. The back of the tongue comes down from the oo position and shifts
back just a little bit. It makes this sound. Uhl, uhl. This is the dark sound in the dark
L, pool. The dark sound is made with the back of the tongue. What does the front part of
the tongue do? Three options. I often leave the tongue tip down. I just make the dark
part with the back of my tongue and that’s it.
Rachel, uhl, uhl, uhl. I do not to bring the tongue tip up. But I
could bring the tip of the tongue up into one of two positions after making the dark
sound. Here at the roof of the mouth, uhl, Rachel. Or through the teeth. Rachel, uhl,
uhl. Let’s look again at the word ‘”pool” to see
what the tongue does for the L. There, the tongue tip came up to this position.
Pool. Now, let’s study “pull”. The vowel here has
a slightly different tongue position. The tongue rounds up in the back in the OO vowel
but in the uh vowel, there’s a pullback as well. The lips round less for the UH vowel.
Uh, uh Pull. Let’s study it up close and in slow motion.
Lips press together for the P. Lips flare for the vowel. You can see the tongue is lifted
in the back. Now here, I take a different position for the L. I bring the tongue tip
through the teeth. The final position of the dark L, if you choose to do it, here, or here,
doesn’t matter. It doesn’t depend on the word. One isn’t right and one isn’t wrong. You can
do either one and get the same sound. Let’s watch again.
Pool…and then, pull. Look at the difference in the lip position
for the vowels. Pool, Pull [2x]
Say that with me slowly. Pool, Pull [2x]
Now let’s look at the two side by side. The lips are more rounded for OO. Here, you get
to see both ending positions for the dark L. Again, lips are more rounded for the OO
vowel. Jaw is more dropped for UH. English has a lot of vowel sounds, maybe more
than your own language. So it might be hard for you to hear the difference. But I hope
you can see the difference in the mouth shape and imitate that.
And as you practice these words, don’t forget the dark L. Pull the back part of the tongue
back to make the dark sound, it’s really important. Here’s the video I mentioned earlier on the
OO vowel and here’s one on the UH vowel. Actually, you might want to take a look at
all of the vowel sound videos. They really illustrate the different positions. You can
click here or in the description below. If you’re new to Rachel’s English, welcome!
I have over 500 videos to help you speak better American English on my YouTube channel. Click
here to visit my channel and subscribe or see this playlist to get started with my videos.
The link is also in the description below. Also, I have a great ebook. Two hundred and
ninety pages with two and a half hours of audio. This book details my method for learning
American English pronunciation. It organizes hundreds of my online videos
for a path, start to finish, to help you speak beautifully and naturally.
Click here or in the description below for more information and to purchase a copy. You’ll
get free updates for life. That’s it and thanks so much for using Rachel’s
English. You’ve watched this video all the way through.
So I know you’re interested in learning English and you’re a motivated student. Lingoda is
an online language school where you can study with a native English speaker in private or
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About the author


  1. Rachel, I've learned so so much from your videos! I finally learned how to pronounce word "earth" and word "squirrel." Greetings from Finland (:

  2. Hey Rachel! Could you make a video about the pronunciation of the word "gardener". It sounds like Americans do not pronounce the "d" sounds? Is it true or I was wrong?

  3. Hello rachel, could you make a video about the lenght of vowels and pointing out the differences between Ferry and Fairy, very and vary and other pairs of words like that where the vowel is the same but the lenght varies?

  4. People'm doing a group Whatsapp to help some people in practice ENGLISH someone who speaks or is American or anyone who wants to join the group to help leave your number here, thank you

  5. Hello Rachel ,I'm so happy to discover your channel, I'm a woman from Algerian, I'm an Arabic native speaker and here in our schools we learn French first than we learn English but as you know the Arabic language has the letters that doesn't exist in other languages so I really don't find it difficult to speak as a native speaker I just need practicing. my question here is : can you make a video for us showing the most common words that contain silent letters : like muscles >> the L is silent and so on … . thank you so much Rachel and Salam from me 🙂 .

  6. Hello Rachel,
    Could you explain to us how would you prononce the sentence: "I don't know what are you talking about." ?
    Is it correct to say it like that: ɑ dont| 'noʊ hwət| r yɑ 'tɔkɪŋ əˈbɑʊt|

  7. Hey Rachel! I really like your style and vids. I hope you make a video on how to pronounce the R at the end of words cause it's driving me insane haha. Ex. monster, there, further, where..etc. Thanks in advance xx

  8. Amazing video! Thank you very much!
    I have been learning a lot with you!

    Let me enjoy the opportunity to share a powerful tool to improve our english skills…

    Hello english learners, I'm Luís from Brasil… I created a great english group focused in conversation by audio note in order to be improving our english speaking skill, you know the improvement comes by practicing everyday all the time and this group is an excellent tool to we reach the so dreamed fluency in english. This is a free talking group, the only rule is respect each other… So if you are interested, send me a message and thus I can add you. my number is +55 015 997332321

  9. Hi Rachel, thank you so much for your great work!
    Could you please make video Right vs. Write. They sound so alike for me…

  10. did rachel say either in british pronounciation? i just watched rachel in anglo-link doing american pronounciation

  11. Congratulations Rachel, a very good explanation. I like you use the phonetics symbols of the IPA.

  12. hello thanks for your videos I need some help how to pronounce the word though and how to use it because sometime i heard it at the end of the sentance thank you from Nicaragua 🙂

  13. Thank you so much. I'm still far from mastering these two confusing sounds but I feel much more confident about my pronunciation after watching this video. Especially, the part comparing the different lips movement of two sounds helped me a lot. Thank you!

  14. You always want to help people to understand deeply. I appreciate that so much.
    Thank you! I will contribute subtitle of my language of your video soon, which also helps me to learn a lot

  15. Thanks Rachel! As a Spanish native speaker, I find this kind of hard given that there are only five vowels in our alphabet.

  16. This psoriasis treatment method “Κοkοzο Wuno” (Google it) has been magic for my sister. With this method, her legs are totally clear. It is genuinely miraculous. Right now, she can confidently wear shorts at the fitness center.

  17. The dark 'L' is an interesting sound to explain to my Korean students.  Korean, like French, doesn't have the dark 'L'.  The 'l' in Korean (as well as French) has the tongue tip touching the roof of the mouth in a more flat position.  I have noticed many Englisih speakers speaking French but using a dark 'L' and that is a give away that they are not native French speakers.

  18. Rachel… I've been watching your videos and I really love them! thanks for that.. I really need your help with two words I think it's kinda tricky for us Brazilians to know the difference in pronunciation.. what's the difference between "collar" and "color"? thanks in advance! xoxo

  19. This is good information, but as a native English speaker, I just wanted to offer some encouragement to anyone learning English. I am from the Southern United States and when I say "pool" and "pull" it sounds exactly the same. By all means, if you are interested in learning to say things perfectly, please do so. But, if you are new to learning English, please don't feel like you have to get this perfect for an English speaker to understand you. If your "pull" and "pool" sound the same, 99%+ of English speakers are not even going to notice.

  20. I'd appreciate it if you can help me compare go vs goal?/so vs soul. I've spent quite a time practicing, but I still find it hard to pronounce them correctly. I'm a teacher of English in China.

  21. Hi Rachel, now I realize it takes the accurate tongue movement to pronounce almost every word right in English… too bad, that's my worst part, I ignored the tongue part when I started learning English, and now I have huge pronunciation problems for many many words. Also, I won't be able to tell what position I put my tongue when I am pronouncing words, and that makes it hard for me to correct myself or to learning on videos like this which talk a lot about the tongue…any advises ?

  22. Hi Rachel could you please make a video on how to pronounce get out of here. Thanks a lot for putting so much effort into your lessons.

  23. Es muy dificil aprender un lenguaje cuando se es adulto,pero gracias a ustedes si estoy aprendiendo ingles gracias

  24. Hi rachel..could you please explain the difference between " complain vs complaint " please..thank you rachel..

  25. I meant you pronounce 'pull' very similar 'pall'? It should short 'u' not 'o', it made us confused. As you teach, the 'full' will be very similar 'fall'. Could you make a video to compare 'pull' vs 'pall', 'full' vs 'fall'? Thank you!

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