How do you* pronounce ふ?

I have noticed ふ being pronounced in all of these ways,but didn’t consider any of them to be wrong per say since they all get the point across when it comes to it but fu and in-between seems to be the most used…
But as it is a bit difficult to correctly pronounce it in-between without practice sometimes it ends up as hu,therefore,how do you like to pronounce ふ ?

  • ふ (fu)
  • ふ (hu)
  • ふ (in-betweener)

0 voters

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It’s a bit like blowing out a bit of air whilst rounding your lips and adding a slight “fu” sound to it.


Ignore Romaji and listen a lot. It should sound between in-between and hu; but never fu.


It’s actually neither, nor is it in between the two. It’s actually farther forward in the mouth than any of the options you listed. Let’s dive into some linguistics for the explanation.

In linguistics the first sound of this character is called a bilabial fricative, and it doesn’t exist in English, which is why you have heard so many approximations. I say first sound because it’s a consonant sound plus a vowel. I think you have the vowel, so let’s focus on the consonant. Let’s compare it to the two letters you used to represent it and then look at what they mean lingusitically.

But first, let’s look at the term fricative. That means there’s some constriction of the air passageway in your mouth and it causes vibration as the air passes by. Fricative sounds in english include (but aren’t limited to) “s”, “sh”, “v”, “z”, “th”, “h”, the sound is all created the same way. You narrow the air passageway at some point without completely stopping it, this causes the air to vibrate as it passes by.

now for some letters:
h - this is a glottal fricative. The constriction comes from far back in your throat, the glottis. The sound is similar to ふ but not quite the same.
f - In English this is a labiodental fricative. We’ve already looked at fricative, so now labiodental. This means you put your bottom lip (labio- means related to the lips) near or against your upper teeth (dental meaning teeth) and sound goes by.

now for ふ. This sound starts with a bilabial fricative followed by the vowel “-u”. We have the term “-labial” here as well, so we know it relates to the lips, and “bi-” means two, so the sound comes from your two lips only. To create the sound, think of the shape your mouth makes when you say “f” or “v” (they’re the same mouth shape in English), and then move your lower lip forward so that it is closer to your upper lip than your teeth, but still not touching. That should get you the correct mouth shape to say ふ.

If it helps, think of what you do with your mouth when blowing on food, or blowing out a candle, this is actually quite close, but the mouth shape is a bit wider.


I think Mordoc explained it in a good in-depth way from a linguistics perspective, but also as polv said, many textbooks - for simplicity sake - say it is between a fu and hu sound.

Also remember that if you are listening to native speakers, people are hardly be going to be talking with textbook perfect pronunciation. People slur and mumble and stutter…Or talk fast or talk slow. So like any language, not every word or sound is going to sound identical every time.

I agree, I butcher English all the time, and pronunciation can vary across speech.

I find it’s helpful to know what the pure phonetics form of the sound is though, as most native speakers will at least get fairly close to it. And then you can adjust based on how it’s actually used. We are all humans (I assume) and almost no one gets the absolute pure perfect form of phonetics, but it can help guide you to be closer to what it should be. You have to know the rules to know how to break them type thing.

I might have given too much information for some people, or perhaps they just don’t care and want a heuristic or shortcut for how to get there quickly. But there is actually correct pronunciation for the sound that most native speakers use. I’m also a mimic and have always been good at reproducing sounds, as a result of this, native speakers often assume my language level is higher than it actually is in various languages I’ve studied. I also have a degree in linguistics. I’m probably fairly odd, so good enough is great for some people. Really the most important thing is that you can be understood in your speech.

This is a fantastic explanation. I was reading somewhere that you can really improve your pronunciation, like you mentioned, and have people think you are more fluent than you really are but studying how to make the actual sounds. I think part of it is learning the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and really studying how words sound…

Just seems like a lot of extra work to me…lol :joy:

For sure. And nah I thought it was a really good explanation too, and enjoyed reading it.

Well, ふ is actually neither /fu/, nor /hu/. ふ is the Hiragana representation of the phonemes /ɸɯᵝ/ and /ɸɯ̥ᵝ/.

I pronounce it similarly to the way I pronounce “wh” in English: a voiceless fricative or approximant formed by pushing the lips forward (no teeth involved). This is different from my English “h” (which I form as a throat sound) and “f” (which I form with upper teeth against lower lip, almost biting down).

Wait, what do you mean “wh” in English is supposed to be the same as “h”? All vicious Cromwellian slander…

I usually pronounce it more like /hu/ with more wind. Also, I know very well about /ɯ/ sound, because there is this sound in Thai.

Also, a question no-one asked yet…

###How do you* usually pronounce ら?

  • More like /r/
  • More like /l/
  • More like unvoiced /d/
  • Somewhere in-between
  • Something else

0 voters

Let’s all take a moment to think about the fact “Doctor Who” is “Dakuta Fu” in Japan.


A friend of mine who is native Japanese but very very fluent in English still pronounces “who” as an in-between “fhu” and it’s adorable I love it

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wew is my pronunciation.

That’s a tough one…

I almost feel like it comes out slightly different for me depending on the placement within the word.

So like たべる it definitely sounds more like ru/lu. But with 現れる(あらわれる) I say the first ら much more like da but still the final る more like ru/lu. :thinking:

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