French word 'possible' -> [pɔsibl]. The IPA is written this way but all the audio examples I've heard use the regular IPA /o/ rather than /ɔ/. Anyone know why that is? I'm coming from an English background.

French audio for 'possible' [pɔsibl]


/o/ sound


example in french that uses same phoneme


Then you have

/ɔ/ sound (used in the ipa spelling for possible but not pronunciation as far as i can tell)


example in french that uses same phoneme


Maybe my ears are not hearing the difference. I want to apologize I am new to this, I may be misusing [] and // and terminology.

2 Answers 2


Your question is of the same nature as this one and the answer too, I believe: Pronunciation of “au” in restaurant . Briefly, there is a main stream pronunciation (ɔ) and a variant (o); I think that the first clip is not [ɔ] but instead that it is [o]. Personally, I use for "possible" the o pronunciation you can hear in this first audio clip and it seems I never hear the 'would be' main stream one.

  • Thank you for the link. Correct, the 'possible' clip is [o]. Yes, that would be strange that the [ɔ] is considered mainstream but you wouldn't have encountered it. So basically, neither is wrong?
    – aatroxed
    Jan 13, 2020 at 21:46
  • @aatroxed No, they are close enough not to communicate to the listener anything else than a regional colour. This is tipycal of many words: For instance I use mainstream for "rose" which is [o] but when I hear the word pronounced with [ɔ] I j know it's just an alternative. It's just as for English "talk","walk", etc.; as you probably know in RP the pronunciation is normally like "warm" but you can hear a lot of pronunciations like "watch".
    – LPH
    Jan 13, 2020 at 22:03

This O can be and is pronounced one way or another (and all shades of O in between) without any risk of misunderstanding.

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