The Letter L

Many English learners are able to say the L when it’s before a vowel, but don’t say the L properly when it’s after a vowel.

The L should not sound like a W; if you’re moving your lips to say the L, you’re doing it wrong. Your tongue has to make the L, your lips need to stay still, and relaxed. A way to check this is to say “L” while lightly holding your hand against your lips. If it feels like you’re kissing your hand, you’re not saying an L, you’re saying a W.

To say the L, lightly touch the top of your tongue against the top of your mouth, just behind your front teeth. Hold it there and make the sound for a moment; L is a long sound.

L is always made the same way, whether it’s at the beginning, middle, or end of a word. If you can say the L at the beginning of words, then this list of words will help you train yourself to also say the L properly when it’s after a vowel.

The L is pronounced the same way in all these words:

let, gullet, gull
light, polite, pull
Lee, vocally, vocal
Lee, fully, full
lint, violent, vile
lean, ethylene, ethyl
lies, civilize, civil
loon, balloon, ball
lack, shellac, shell
lure, howler, howl
lure, dealer, deal
smiling, smile
pillage, pill
belly, bell
mileage, mile
fully, full

Here are some sentences to give you practice saying the L:

Lana likes looking at love letters.
Lars’ lady Linda likes living large.
Lucy looked longingly at the lilacs.
Lee-Anne’s luck lasted life-long.
The lima-bean flavored licorice looked lousy.
Lillian licked her lips and looked lustully at the luscious looking lemon loaf
Eleven long caterpillars looked like larval lepidoptera.