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The letter O has been a part of children’s speech since their preverbal year(s). All infants and toddlers are likely to have made sounds such as ‘oh’ or ‘ooh’ during different activities to express themselves when they can’t speak.

Hence, parents and teachers assume that kids don’t have a hard time learning words starting with O. However, it can absolutely be hard to do so, as there is a lot to learn words that start with O.

In this post, we will discuss all that a child should know about the fifteenth letter of the English alphabet.


Why is it Important to Learn Words that Start with O?

Words play an important role in communication and language skills. It is important to enrich a child’s vocabulary during earlier years to promote enhanced communication skills.

These benefit children in all walks of life, so it’s important to teach them words starting with O.

The most important advantage of having a vast vocabulary is that it gives children the ability to express their feelings and thoughts. A child can voice their ideas and opinions only when they have the words to do so.

There are fewer chances of your child being misunderstood and misinterpreted when they say the right words to describe a thing or an idea.

Moreover, it fills a child with self-confidence when they are able to get their message across correctly. This, in turn, urges them to interact with new people, which helps them gain knowledge and a better understanding of the world and its people.

Bigger vocabularies allow for productive interactions. Understanding the meaning of words the other person is using will also make your child empathetic and more understanding of their thoughts and opinions.

Ways to Pronounce the Letter O with Consonants

There are numerous words that start with O or contain the letter. But even so, the letter O comes with a lot of different sounds. While we use those sounds on a daily basis, a lot of people do not realize that the letter has more than one sound.

You make the basic /o/ sound when you combine the ‘oh’ and ‘ooh’ sounds. While there are also sounds based on the vowel factor of the letter O, it has three main sound variations. These are the /ah/, /uh/ and /o/ sounds.

In the case of the /ah/ sound, you vertically open your mouth and produce a long sound. For /uh/ sound words that start with O, you open your mouth slightly. When your tongue touches the roof near your throat, it produces a short sound.

When you pronounce a word with the /o/ sound, you slightly prolong the sound and protrude your lips.

Fun Way to Learn the Three Main O Sounds

Teaching the different O sounds to children can be hard. This is because they initially learn the O sound as the basic /o/ sound. However, that is not true. There are plenty of different ways to pronounce words that start with O or contain the letter.

To prevent your kids from losing interest in learning, you should always have a fun backup activity. One way of keeping children engaged in learning O sounds is to let them experiment.

You can ask your child to record themselves saying words with different O sounds and listening to their own voice. This way, the kids actively engage in the learning process, which enhances their memory and retention.

Moreover, they will be better able to notice the difference between sounds.

Ways to Pronounce Letter O with Vowels

Since the letter O is itself a vowel, there are certain rules associated with pronouncing vowels that are positioned next to another vowel.

Therefore, the following rules apply to words that start with O as well as words that contain the letter O in them.

The basic /o/ sound combines with the sound of the vowel after it in a word. Let’s have a look at two variations of the combination of the/o/ sound with another vowel.

The Letters O and U

Many words contain the letter O followed by the letter U, such as ‘hour’ or ‘south.’ In such cases, the pronunciation of the word is different. You start with the /ah/ sound and end with an /oo/ sound.

The Letters O and I

With words such as oil, the pronunciation starts with an /ah/ sound and ends with an /eh/ sound. This also applies to the letter Y, which has a similar sound as the letter I.


Interesting fact: The two types of vowel sounds in the English language are called short vowels and long vowels.

The General Rule of Short and Long Vowels

The rule of short and long vowels is pretty much dictated by the spelling of the word. The three ways to identify whether a vowel is short or long are:

  • It is a short vowel when you have only one vowel next to a consonant
  • In the case of one consonant between two vowels, the first vowel is a long vowel
  • A vowel is pronounced as a short vowel when it is placed before two consonants, two hard consonant sounds, or one consonant that sounds like two consonants.

Exercise #1

You now have all the information you need to pronounce words that start with O or contain the letter. Let’s run a short practice exercise to test your knowledge.

Identify what kinds of sounds the letter O produces in the following sentences:

  1. John is not French.
  2. No, I don’t like pasta.
  3. Wear your coat.
  4. My brother loves her.
  5. She won the prize.


  1. John: /ah/ Not: /ah/
  2. No: /o/ Don’t: /o/
  3. Coat: /o/
  4. Brother: /uh/
  5. Won: /uh/

Exercise #2

List down all the words that start with the letter O or contain it followed by a vowel.

List of Words that Start With O for Kids

O is a common letter that is a part of many words in the English language. While it may seem easy to learn words that start with O, kids have a different experience. Therefore, we have divided all the O words into four different categories.


Since preschoolers can’t read or write words, it is best to start off with simpler words that are easy to remember.

  • Oat
  • Off
  • One
  • Out
  • Owl
  • On
  • Our
  • Old


While O words are easy to recognize and spell, it can often be tricky to define the meanings. Kindergarteners are old enough to understand the meanings of certain words. Here is a list of words that start with O for young learners.

  • Object: A thing that occupies space
  • Obey: To do as you’re told to do
  • Owe: An obligation to give something to someone
  • Over: To be above or on top of something
  • Once: To happen one time only

Lower Elementary

  • Oink: The sound that pigs make
  • Offend: To cause hurt or resentment to someone
  • Often: To frequently happen
  • Order: To demand someone to do something
  • Owner: The person that an object belongs to
  • Outside: The outer part or surface of something
  • Orbit: To move something in a circular path around an object

Upper Elementary

Upper Elementary students are introduced to new concepts like adjectives or prime numbers. At this stage, it is best to teach them more meaningful words that start with O.

  • Ominous: Indicating a threat or something evil
  • Option: A choice out of many
  • Obstacle: Something that stands in the way and stops progress
  • Origin: the source of something
  • Ornament: a piece of décor used to decorate another object
  • Ore: a raw combination of minerals that can be processed to get metal and sulfur
  • Officer: A person who is in authority in the military, police, or business

Frequently Asked Questions

Some preschool words that start with O are: Our, Out, Old, One, Oat, Off, Owl, On, One

Some positive O words are: Observant, Optimistic, Optimum, Openhearted, Obedient, Organized, Obtainable, Original, Omniscient

Some O word names for things are: Oven, Organizer, Oil, Overcoat, Orange, Oatmeal, Outfit

Some 3-letter words that start with O are: Oak, Oar, Oat, Opt, Ore, One, Out, Old, Our

Here are some 5-letter O words: Odors, Oasis, Octan, Obese, Octet, Ocher, Oaths

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