mayor pneumonia pronunciation

9 English words that are hard to say in British and American English

Does it drive you crazy that English words are pronounced differently from the way they’re spelt? Don’t worry, we can help.
We’re looking at more words that English learners find tricky to pronounce and comparing how we say them in British and American English.

In this video we look at how we pronounce:
• jostle
• temperature
• mayor
• manoeuvre/maneuver
• despicable
• pneumonia
• pathetic
• tsunami
• ubiquitous

We talk about:
• silent letters
• the tricky English th sound
• syllable and word stress
• British and American differences
and lots, lots more.

To see our other videos on how to pronounce difficult words, click here.

We’re back with some more words that are difficult to pronounce in British English.
And in American English.
Are you ready to try them?
I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
And all the people you’ll meet in this video come from lots of other countries.
English is their second, or third or even fourth language and we’re going to ask them to pronounce some tricky words.
So let’s get started!

Jostle pronunciation

Jostle.
Jostle.
Jostle.
Jos – jostle – so difficult!

There are two things to remember here. The word starts with ‘j’ – jostle.
So it’s a /d/ and ‘zh’ sound together- ‘j’, ‘j’.
And the letter t is silent. We write it but we don’t pronounce it.
Jostle.
Jostle.
So what does jostle mean?
If you push roughly against someone in a crowd, you jostle them.
You push or knock them.
When I get on the train in rush hour I get jostled.
Say it with our learners

Jostle.
Jostle.
Jostle.
Jostle.

OK, next word.

Temperature pronunciation

Temperature.
Temperature
Temperature.
Temperature.

Ah nearly.
How many syllables does it have?

Temperature.
Temperature
Temperature.
Temperature.
Temperature.

So it has three syllables. Temp-p(e)ra-ture
Temperature
Temperature.
And temperature is the measurement in degrees of how hot or cold something is. For example, the temperature is about 80 degrees today.
He means it’s about 27 Celcius. In the US they still use Fahrenheit to measure temperature.
Yeah, I’m always really hot!
Say it with our learners.

Temperature.
Temperature.
Temperature.
Temperature.
Er, temperature.

What’s next?
OK, the next word is complicated.

Mayor pronunciation

Mayor.
Mayor.
Mayor.

That’s nearly right but it has a different vowel sound.

Mayor.
Mayor.
Mayor.

That’s better. We pronounce this word in different ways in the US. Some people say may-or with two syllables. And I say mayor, with one.
What is a mayor?
It’s a public official – the head of a city or town.
Like the Mayor of London.
May-or or mayor
Mayor.
You don’t pronounce the r sound at the end.
Yeah. Unless the next word starts with a vowel, there’s no R sound for me. Mare. Say it with our learners.

Erm, Mayor.
Mayor.
Mayor.
Mayor.
Mayor.
Mayor.

OK, next one.

Manoeuvre pronunciation

Manoeurvre. That one is French!
Manoeurvre. It’s a French word so…
Manoeurvre. French. Whatever.

They’re right, of course. It’s a French word we use in English but we say it differently.
We met one French learner who knew the pronunciation would be different and he had a guess at how we might say it in English.

Manovee? Manovee?

Great guess but he’s completely wrong!
Maneuver.
Manoeuvre.
You know, I think it’s easier to say this word if you’re NOT French.

Manoeurvre.
Manoeurvre.

They were good.
What does maneuver mean?
It’s a skillful or careful movement that we make.
For example, I’m very good at maneuvering our car into tight parking spots.
That’s true! He is!
Say it with us.
Maneuver.
Manoeuvre.
What’s next?

Despicable pronunciation

Despicable.
Despicable.

They’re almost right.
They just need to change the vowel sound in the middle. Despicable.

Despicable.

What does it mean?
Something that’s really bad and not moral is despicable.
A despicable crime.
A despicable person.
Say the word with us.
Despicable.
Despicable.
The next word’s hard. The spelling is misleading again.

Pneumonia pronunciation

Have a guess.
Er, pneumonia.
Pneumonia. Although I don’t know what’s that.
Pneum.. pneumonia.
Pneumon.. pneumonia.
Pnu..Pnue… Uh! Pneumonia.

Oh no, they’re all wrong.
It’s hard because the spelling is so different from the pronunciation.
The letter p should be silent.

Ah! Pneumonia.
Pneumonia.
Pneumonia.

They got it!
What is pneumonia?
It’s a serious illness that affects your lungs.
It makes it difficult to breathe. You know we say this word a little differently.
Really?
Yeah.
Pneumonia.
Pneumonia.
I say nju – there’s a little y sound. Pneumonia.
And I say nuu. Pneumonia.
Say it with our learners.

Pneumonia.
Pneumonia.
Pneumonia. Cool!

Next word.

Pathetic pronunciation

Pathetic. Pathetic.
Pathetic.
Pathetic.
Pathetic.

The tricky thing here is the ‘th’ sound.
Yes, it’s not a /t/ sound. It’s ‘th’.

Pathetic.
Pathetic.

How far should your tongue stick out to make a th sound?
That’s a good question. You don’t want it going out too far – that’s silly – and you don’t want it back too far either or you’ll make a /t/ sound.
This is a good measure. Just touch your finger lightly with your tongue.
My tongue is down in the middle and I can feel its sides between the sides of my teeth. And I’m blowing air out. ‘th’, ‘th’. That does it! Say the word with our learners.

Pathetic.
Pathetic.
Pathetic.
Pathetic.
Pathetic.
Pathetic.

OK, next word.
Our learners were pretty good at this one.

Tsunami pronunciation

Tsunami.
Tsunami.
Tsunami.

So is it ‘tsunaaami’ or ‘tsunahhhmi’?
Tsunami.
Tsunami.
It’s ‘tsunahhhmi’.
An ‘ah’ sound.
What’s a tsunami? It’s a huge wave in the sea caused by an earthquake.
It’s a Japanese word and it starts with a Japanese sound – tsu.
So a t sound quickly followed by s. tsu. tsu.
Then ‘nah’ then ‘me’. Say it with us.
Tsunami.
Tsunami.
Let’s have a really hard one now.
OK.

Ubiquitous pronunciation

Wow! Ubiquitous.
Ubiqui – ubiquitous.
Ubiquitous.
Ubiquitous.
Ubiquitous.
Ubiquitous.

No!
It’s very hard!

Ubiquitous.
Ubiquitous.
Ubiquitous.

They came very close!
Yeah.
What does ubiquitous mean?
If something seems to be everywhere, we say it’s ubiquitous.
For example, in Philadelphia there are lots of stores where you can buy donuts.
Yeah, Dunkin’ Donuts are ubiquitous.
And places where you can buy cheesesteaks are very common.
Yeah, they’re ubiquitous too. Cheesesteaks are a Philly dish.
Ubiquitous.
Ubiquitous.
So it starts with a /j/ sound.
And it has four syllables. U-bi-quit-ous.
What’s that trick for saying long words?
Backchaining.
With a long word it often helps to start at the back and work forward. Try it with me.
-tous.
-quit – tous.
-BI-quit-ous.
u-BI-quit-ous.
So that’s it.
But we’ve made lots of other videos about words that are hard to pronounce.
I’ll put a link to the playlist at the end of this video.
We want to say a big thank you to all the learners who helped us teach these words.
They were terrific and it was lovely to meet them all.
If you’ve enjoyed this video please give it a thumbs up and share it with a friend.
And don’t forget to subscribe and click that notification bell!
Bye-bye.
Bye!

hard words to pronounce

Hard words to pronounce in British and American English

We’re looking at more words that English learners find tricky to pronounce and comparing how we say them in British and American English.

In this video we look at how we pronounce these tricky words in English:
• colonel
• youths
• gauge (and gouge)
• oesophagus
• debut
• rural
• disease
• anemone

We talk about:
• syllables
• the tricky English th sound
• confusing vowel sounds
• British and American differences
• different R sounds
and lots, lots more.

We’re back with some more tricky words.
They’re words our viewers have told us they find hard to say.
So get ready to test your English pronunciation.
I’m Jay and I’m American.
And I’m Vicki and I’m British.
But everyone else you’ll see speaks English as a second language.
Or third or fourth language. They’re all very smart.
But English spellings are crazy.
So here’s the first word.
Colonel, no, colonel. Ah, I don’t know.
Erm, colonel.
Colonel.
This word’s really tricky!
It looks like it has three syllables but there are only two.
Colonel.
Colonel.
Colonel.
Colonel.
They were good.
So what is a colonel?
It’s someone with a high rank in the army.
Or in the US airforce or marines.
Say it with our learners.
Colonel.
Colonel.
Colonel.
OK, next one.
Youth-s
Youth…sss, Youth-s. Yous. Ah, it’s kind of difficult this one.
Yeah, it IS difficult.
What does it mean?
A youth is a young person and the plural is youths.
We often say youths when we disapprove, so we might complain about a gang of youths who started a fight or something.
Oh my god. Youths.
Youths.
They pronounced it very well.
This word is like work out for your mouth. It gets your face muscles moving.
You start with ‘you’ and then ‘th’ but then you have to move your tongue back quickly to say ‘z’. youths.
Practice saying it slowly first and then speed up.
Youths.
Youths.
Is there a way to cheat at this?
Well you could try saying yous, without the ‘th’.
Yous.
Yous.
I’d understand that.
Yes, it’s better than saying two syllables. Youth-is – that doesn’t work. It needs to be just one syllable.
Say it with us.
Youths
Youths
The next word’s interesting.
Gouge.
Gauge.
Gouge.
Gauge.
Gouge – gauge.
So is it a gauge or a gouge?
And what does it mean?
We say ‘gauge’ and it’s an instrument for measuring something.
Like a temperature gauge, or a pressure gauge.
Or a petrol gauge
She means a gas gauge.
Gauge.
Gauge.
But there’s another word that looks similar: gouge.
Gauge – gouge – notice the vowel sound is different
Gouge means something completely different. It’s when you cut into something.
So it’s often a violent act. The lion’s claw gouged into the man’s skin.
Say the two words with us.
Gauge. Gouge.
Gauge. Gouge.
OK, next word.
This one is a medical term.
Oesophagus.
Oesophagus. Oh my god.
No!
It’s very hard.
Oh. Oesophagus.
Oesophagus.
They’re not quite right, but they’re close.
Did you show them the British or American spelling?
The British spelling.
The American spelling is easier.
But some learners managed to work it out.
Oesophagus.
Yes!
Oesophagus.
They got it! Good job!
So what does it oesophagus mean?
It’s a tube in our bodies which our food goes down.
The oesphagus goes from our mouth to our stomach.
Oesophagus
Esophagus.
So the main stress is on the second syllable. OeSOphagus.
Say it with us.
Oesophagus
Esophagus
What’s next?
This was another request from our viewers.
Debut, debut.
Debut.
Debut.
They’re sensible guesses, but they’re all wrong!
The t is silent – debut.
Jay and I say this word a little differently. I can say it two ways in British English.
Debut or debut.
Debut.
Did you hear the difference? I stressed the first syllable.
And I stressed the second.
Debut.
Debut.
That sometimes happens with words that come from French. You stress the first syllable and I stress the second one.
Yes, like I say BAllet.
And I say ballET.
And GArage.
GarAGE.
To me it sounds like your trying to sound posh and say things the French way.
Well, I am posh.
OK, what does ‘debut’ mean?
You mean debut.
If someone makes their first public appearance then they make their debut.
An actor can make their debut on Broadway.
Or a bands first album is their debut album. Say it with us:
Debut or debut.
Debut.
Next word.
Rural.
Err, rural.
Good job!
Rural.
Rural.
They did well.
Yeah. I think this word is hard because of American English.
Oh, so it’s my fault?
Yes.
Why?
You pronounce your R sounds so strongly.
Rural.
Rural.
Did you hear the difference? Jay’s R sounds were very strong.
In some words, Vicki doesn’t pronounce R sounds at all.
But I do in this word. Rural. R – They’re very clear. For me, American English isn’t clear.
What do you mean?
It seems like the strong R sounds make the vowel sounds disappear: rural.
Rural.
Now what about Asian languages?
Oh yes.
For Asian learners this word is extra difficult because of the R and L sounds.
Rural.
With the L sound your tongue is going to press the back of your top teeth. /l/, /l/. But with the R sounds, your tongue doesn’t touch anything. It’s your lips that will move. /r/, /r/. So let’s start at the back of the word and go forward. /l/ /ral/ /rural/ – /l/ /ral/ /rural/
/l/ /ral/ /rural/
Great. Try saying this with our learners.
Rural.
Rural.
Rural.
Good job.
There are regional differences in the UK with how we say this.
And in the US too.
Write and tell us what you say in the comments.
And if you say other words differently too.
OK, Next word.
Disease.
Disease.
Ah, no. This word has two vowel sounds that a lot of students find hard.
Disease. /ɪ/ and /i:/.
It’s a good word for practicing these sounds.
Disease.
Disease.
The first vowel sound is /ɪ/ – and it’s a short sound. /ɪ/
And the second vowel is /i:/. You pull your mouth wider so there’s more tension at the corners- /ɪ/ – /i:/ and /i:/ is a longer sound.
So what’s a disease?
It’s an illness. You could have heart disease.
Or a blood disease.
Say it with our learners.
Disease.
Disease.
Disease.
Disease.
Disease.
Let’s have a really hard one now.
OK. Here’s one that lots of our learners didn’t know.
Anemone.
Anemone.
Anemone.
Anemone.
Oh my. Anemone.
Anemone.
Anemone.
Anemone.
Wow, anemone.
Ah dear! They’re all wrong!
English spelling is so confusing!
We say anemone – and it’s a kind of flower.
Anemone.
Anemone.
So the main stress is on the second syllable.
And it has four syllables. aNEMone.
Say it with us.
Anemone.
Anemone.
It’s time to say a big thank you to all the English learners who let us video them.
They were so nice to stop and let us record them.
And they were such good fun.
If you’ve enjoyed this video, please give it a thumbs up and share it with a friend.
And we have more videos with other tricky words for you to check out.
I’ll put the link at the end of the video, and make sure you subscribe to our channel.
Bye-bye.
Bye!

difficult words to pronounce in English

Difficult words to say in British and American English

We’re looking at more words that English learners find tricky to pronounce and comparing how we say them in British and American English.
We’ll show you how we pronounce:
• island
• squirrel
• priority
• Leicester
• schedule
• vulnerable
• width
• peculiarly
And along the way we talk about silent letters in English, word stress, How R sounds are different in British and American English, and the tricky English th sound.

You’ve told us some of the words you find hard to say.
And we’re going to show you how we pronounce them.
In British English.
And American English.
Before we start, we need to explain something.
Everyone you’ll see in this video is a non-native English speaker.
Apart from us. I’m British and Jay’s American.
But everyone else speaks English as a second language.
Or third or fourth language. They’re all very smart.
And also very nice, because they let us film them. Let’s see them in action.

How to pronounce island

Island.
Island.
Island.
Island.

Oh no they’re all wrong.
It’s hard because the spelling is so different from the pronunciation.
Island.
Island.
There are two things to remember with this word.
The first vowel sound isn’t eee. It’s eye.
And the other thing is the ‘s’. It’s a silent letter. Island.
But some of our learners got it right. Say it with them.

Island.
Island.
Island.
Island.

How to pronounce squirrel

OK, next word.

Squirrel.
Squirrel.
Squirrel.
Well done.
But it’s like kind of difficult to say, like skw and then the -rrel. Like squirrel. Yeah.

He did a good job. It starts with a ‘skw’ sound.
Yeah. And we say this word a little differently in British and American English.
Squirrel.
Squirrel.
In a lot of words I pronounce R sounds less strongly than Jay.
Or you don’t pronounce them at all.
True. But in this word you can hear my R sound – squirrel. -rel. It’s clear. It’s still different to your R sound though.
Squirrel, squirrel
Your R is so strong and powerful that it replaces the vowel sounds! It sounds like skwrrl.
Squirrel. Squirrel.
Our learners did a good job with this word though.
Say it with them.

Squirrel.
Squirrel.
Squirrel.
Squirrel.
Squirrel.
Squirrel.

Vicki doesn’t pronounce her R sounds properly because she’s British.
I beg your pardon!
We’ve made another video about that.
I’ll put a link here. What’s next?

How to pronounce priority

Priority.
Priority.
Priority.

OK, we just need to make a little change here.
Is it pri(ee)ority or priority?
Priority.
Priority.
So we both say pry – priority.
And I say priority – with a clear t sound, and you say…
Prioridy.
He flaps the t so it sounds a little like a fast d sound.
Well of course. Good pronunciation is my priority!
Say it with our learners.

Priority.
Priority.
Priority.
Priority.

How to pronounce Leicester

OK, next word.

Leicester.
Leicester.
Leicester.

That was a hard one!
I know. The spelling’s so weird.
Leicester.
Leicester.
Leicester’s is the name of a city in England. It’s in the Midlands.
And in the US, there are towns called Leicester in Massachusetts and New York state.
I didn’t think any students would get it right because the spelling is so strange, but some did.

Leicester.
Leicester.
Yes!
I have the English Monopoly, so I know it.
Ah!

So it’s a place on your Monopoly board?
Yes, Leicester Square. It’s a theatre district in London. Say it with us.
Leicester Square.
Leicester Square.
OK. We had a lot of requests for the next word.

How to pronounce schedule

Schedule.
Erm, schedule.
Schedule.
Schedule.
Schedule.

They’re all correct! Good job!
But there’s another way of saying it too.

Schedule.
Schedule.

They’re correct too for me! Jay and I say this word in different ways.
Schedule.
Schedule.
So in British English, you say sh – Schedule.
Yeah. Schedule.
So you don’t say sk- schedule?
Well, here’s the thing. These days a lot of British people do. American English has influenced how we speak.
So you’ll hear some people in the UK say schedule these days.
Uh huh.
Say it with us.
Schedule.
Schedule or schedule.
And I thought of something else. What’s this?
It’s a train schedule.
Uhuh. And I’d say it’s a train timetable. So another thing that happens is we often say timetable where you’ll say schedule.
OK, what’s the next word?

How to pronounce vulnerable

Vulnerable.
Vulnerable.
Vulnerable.
Vulnerable.

Not quite, but they’re almost there!
Yes, the main stress needs to be on VUL. Vulnerable.
Vulnerable.
Vulnerable.
What does it mean?
If someone is vulnerable then they’re weak.
It’s easy to hurt them, physically or emotionally.
An army could be vulnerable to attack.
And children who aren’t vaccinated are vulnerable to the measles.
How many syllables does vulnerable have?
Good question. Vuln-e-ra-ble, 4, but this second syllable is just a schwa and sometimes it practically disappears.

Vulnerable.
Vulnerable.
Vulnerable.
Yes!

They were good.
Yes, say the word with us.
Vulnerable.
Vulnerable.
You know there’s a lot of regional variation with how we say some of these words in the UK.
That’s true in the US too. If you say words differently, write and tell us in the comments.
OK, what’s next?

How to pronounce width

Width.
Width.

Perfect! They said it very well!
Yeah.
Next word then.
No! We need to look at how they did it.
OK. So what does width mean?
How wide something is, is its width – so the distance from one side to the other.
So wide is the adjective and width is the noun.
Width.
Width.
Some people think this is one of the hardest words to say in English.
I think it’s because with the /d/ sound you have to stop the airflow, ‘wid’ but then you have to start it again to make the ‘th’ sound. Wid-th.
Is there a way to make it easier?
Well, you could try saying ‘with’, without the /d/ sound. Some of our learners did that.

With.
With.
With. With. Something like that.

I’d understand them, I think.
Oh yes, me too. So that’s a cheat you can use if you find this hard. But ‘width’ is better of course.
Try saying it with us.
Width.
Width.
OK, the next one’s a long word.

How to pronounce peculiarly

Erm. Peculiarly. Something like that.
Peculiarly.

How many syllables does this word have?
Peculiarly. Five.
Peculiarly.
OK, that’s the right number of syllables, but where’s the main stress?
Peculiarly– cue – the second syllable.

Peculiarly.
Peculiarly.

They did well!
I agree because it’s a ‘peculiarly’ difficult word!
Peculiarly.
Peculiarly.
There’s a really cool technique for pronouncing long words like this.
Yeah. Often they’re easier if you backchain them, so start at the back and work forward.
ly.
ar-ly.
li-ar-ly.
cu-li-ar-ly.
Pe-cu-li-ar-ly.
Try it with me.
ly.
ar-ly.
li-ar-ly.
cu-li-ar-ly.
Pe-cu-li-ar-ly.
Could you say it?
And now we want to say a big thank you to all the English learners who appeared in this video.
They were such good sports.
If you’ve enjoyed it, check out our other videos about words that are hard to pronounce.
We have a series now. I’ll put a link at the end of this video.
And why not share this video with a friend. They might enjoy it too.
Have a great weekend everyone and see you soon.
Bye-bye.
Bye.
They did well.
I agree because it’s a pecu-. Peculiarly.
They did well.
I agree because it’s a peculiarly difficult word.
Because it’s a peculiarly difficult word.
One more time. I’m going to make you do it again.
Oh no.
Peculiarly. Oh I got it right!

can't and not c*nt

2 tricky vowel sounds in British and American English – AH and UH

We made a video a while ago on how we say can and can’t in British and American English. You can see it here.

It was very popular but many of you wrote saying you were worried about saying the right the vowel sound in the word can’t. If you get it wrong you could say can’t and not c*nt – so a rude word in English.

Some of you said you say cannot instead. That’s clear, but it will sound a little strange. Cannot is more frequent in written English than spoken.
The way to solve the problem is to work on the vowel sounds so you can say AH and UH – the ɑːand ʌ vowel sounds.

We’ll show you how to do that in this video and demonstrate some ah uh minimal pairs. We’ll also show you how we pronounce words differently in British and American English.


Click here to see our video on can and can’t.
Click here to see more of our pronunciation videos.

Hi everyone, I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American and this video is long overdue. Why is it overdue?
I’ve been slow. A year ago, we made a video about how we both pronounce ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ in English.
It was nearly two years ago.
We say the negative word ‘can’t’ differently.
She means can’t.
Can’t.
Can’t.
Sometimes when Jay says it, I don’t understand him.

I don’t want you to see.
I can’t see.
Oh well let me try again.
Why? I can’t see?
Do you mean you can or you can’t see.
I can’t see.

Can’t and not c*nt

That video was very popular.
But in the comments a lot of you said you had a problem.
Yes, a lot of people didn’t want to say can’t the British way in case they say c*nt. Oh, I said a rude word.
Lots of people are worried about that. They don’t want to sound rude
Some of you told us you say ‘cannot’ instead.
That’s clear, but it sounds strange.
Cannot is more frequent in written English. We don’t say it much when we’re speaking.
It sounds stilted.
You don’t want to sound formal and strange. So what we need to do is work on the vowel sound – the AH sound.
That way you can say it confidently.
And make sure you don’t get it mixed up with UH. This is going to be useful for pronouncing lots of words, and good for your listening too.
So where should we start?
I think we should look at what’s causing the problem in the first place. Too many English vowels.

Vowel sounds in British and American English

We have five vowels in the English alphabet, but we pronounce them in different ways, so we have lots of vowel sounds. When I was learning Japanese there were just five vowel sounds. It was pretty easy. Spanish is another language that has five.
If your language has fewer vowel sounds than English, of course it’s going to be difficult to hear and say the English ones. You have to train your ear and learn to move your mouth muscles differently.
We have twelve pure vowel sounds in English and we’re going to focus on two that are very similar.
I thought it was eleven sounds.
Ah. No. In American English there are eleven, but in British English we have twelve.
Really?
Yes, there’s one you don’t say.
What’s that?
ɒ like in the word lot. We’ve made another video about that.
But we’re focusing on two other vowel sounds today: AH and UH.
So you can say can’t and not c*nt. Ah I did it again.
So let’s look at these sounds. AH… This is the sound I make when Vicki gives me a foot rub. AH.
You wish. And what about UH?
That’s when I’ve made a mistake. UH!

AH. UH.
AH. UH.
AH. UH.
AH. UH.

AH is a longer sound. AH.
And with AH there’s a little more jaw drop. AH.
And you press your tongue down a bit at the back. So when your jaw goes down your tongue goes down too.
And there’s a little tension in your tongue.
Now the other sound, UH. This is a shorter sound.
Your tongue is completely relaxed. UH.
And your jaw is a little higher. Say the sounds with us.

AH. UH.
AH. UH.

Now we need some words to practice.
This is where it gets tricky because sometimes we use these sounds in different words.
It’s an American and British English difference.
So let’s start with a different vowel sound. Aaaa.
Here are some words that we both say with Aaaa.

Can, bag, sad, man, fat.
Can, bag, sad, man, fat.

So we both said the vowel sound Aaaa there.
But there are other words where Jay says Aaaa and I say AH.

Can’t, aunt, past, laugh, class, after.
Can’t, aunt, past, laugh, class, after.

Did you hear the difference? I said AH and Jay said Aaaa.
And then there are other words where we both say AH.

Father, father, llama, llama, calm, calm, bra, bra.

I think your vowel sound was a little longer than mine.
Maybe. We both said AH, but perhaps your AH was a little shorter than mine?
What do you think? Let’s try some more.
Dark, dark, barn, barn, march, march, cart, cart.
Our vowel sounds were the same again but our R sounds were different.
Yeah. I’m from just north of London in England, and we don’t pronounce our Rs in these words. There are parts of the UK where people do, but most people don’t.
We’ve made another video about that.
OK. Now there’s another group of words where you say AH, but I don’t.

Doll, doll, fond, fond, lock, lock, hot, hot, gosh, gosh.

Did you hear the difference?
I said AH – gosh. But you didn’t.
No, I used the other extra vowel sound that we have in British English.
The twelfth vowel sound. It sounds so British!
It’s just what we say. But let’s recap so far. There are some words where I say AH and Jay doesn’t, and some words where we both say it, and some where Jay says it and I don’t.
OK. But what about the other important sound. Now we need to look at UH.
Yeah. UH is more straightforward because we both say this sound in much the same words.

Cup, cup, hut, hut, luck, luck, love, love, come, come, dull, dull.

So UH is a shorter sound and you need to keep your tongue relaxed.

ah uh minimal pairs

Let’s compare UH with AH now.
See if you can hear the difference.

Cart cut, carp cup, dark duck, barn bun, calm come.
Hot hut, lock luck, cot cut, fond fund, doll dull.

If you find it hard, you’re not alone.
Yes, it’s tricky. It’s about small movements of the tongue and the jaw.
It just takes practice, but you’ll get it.Now, do we have any sentences?
Yes. I’ve got one for you to say and one for me to say and you can try saying them with us. Your one has UH sounds.
OK. ‘Don’t be unhappy, love. Come to lunch with me and let’s have fun!’
OK, my one has AH sounds. ‘I can’t meet you after class because I’ll be in the bath.’
You mean the bath.
And that’s it for today everyone.
If you’ve enjoyed this video please give it a like and share it with a friend.
See you all next Friday. Bye
Bye-bye.

Click here to see our video on can and can’t.
Click here to see more of our pronunciation videos.

pronouncing numbers in British and American English

Pronouncing numbers in British and American English (1-100)

How do we say numbers like twenty, thirty, forty, fifty etc. in English?
Well, it depends. There are some curious differences between how I say them in British English and how Jay says them in American English.

For example, twenny vs. twenty. Jay often drops the middle t in twenty and says twenny. Then there’s thirty. There he says the t but it sounds like very fast d sound – commonly known as a flap t.

Do you ever say free instead of three? We’ll tell you about three vs. free pronunciation in England.

We’ll also show you the difference in how we say numbers like thirteen and thirty, fourteen and forty, etc. and we’ll show you how native speakers change the word stress to distinguish between them.

And best of all you’ll meet Super Agent Awesome for a numbers quiz.

Click here to see some more videos on British and American differences.
Click here to see some more pronunciation videos.

Pronouncing numbers in British and American English

Super Agent Awesome.
Yes Vicki.
I have a question.
What?
Do you like quizzes?
Oh quizzes!
Good because I’ve got some quiz questions for you.
Oh yeah.
Yep. Your first one is very hard. How many hours are there in a day?
Seriously? That’s a piece of cake. There are a total of 24 hours in a day.
He got it easily. OK, next one.
That was a piece of cake.
Your mum said you couldn’t get that one.
I wasn’t sure.

Hi, I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
And there are some differences in how we pronounce numbers.
Curious differences!
Yeah. You just heard one difference from Super Agent Awesome.
Super Agent Awesome is American.

How many hours are there in a day?
Seriously? That’s a piece of cake. There are a total of 24 hours in a day.
He got it easily.

If something’s very easy to do, we say it’s a piece of cake.
Yeah, but what’s this number Jay?
Err. Twenty-four
I say it differently.
Twenty-four
Twenty four.
Did you hear the difference?
Twenty-four
Twenty-four.
You didn’t say the t.
I did. t – twenty.
No, the t in the middle. Twenty.
Twenty. If I’m speaking very carefully, I’ll pronounce that middle t sound, but normally I drop it.
We have another example.
I think this might be a bit too easy for you because you’re very good at this. How many letters are there in the English alphabet?
Twenty-six.
There you are, twenty six.
Twenty six. So this is a British and American difference. Ok. Another one.

Let me see if I can catch you out with this one. How many times does seven go into twenty-one?
Three.
Three – he got it right.

I have a question. Do you ever say free instead of three in American English?
Free? No, I don’t. Maybe some Americans do, but no, for me it’s a th sound – th- three.
OK, I say three too, but I read something interesting about this recently. When I was growing up we lived just north of London and a lot of people there said free instead of three. But if I said that at home, my mother complained. She said it’s not proper English. But of course languages change and in some recent studies linguists have found a lot of people in England are saying free instead of three now. It’s spread out from London.
So do most people say free in England?
Not most, but a large number. It’s good news if you find the th sound hard to say. If you say free instead, we’ll probably understand you.

Next question. Are you ready for the next one?
Yes Vicki, I’m so ready.
How many days are there in March?
Erm. Erm. Put on the Jeopardy music. Dum dum dum dum, dum dum dum. Oh I got the answer. Thirty. I mean thirty-one, thirty-one, thirty-one!

He’s right again. Thirty-one.
Or as I say thirty-one. There’s a difference again!
Thirty-one.
Thirty-one.
Thirty-two.
Thirty-two.
Thirty-three.
Thirty-three.
So you’re saying a clear t in the middle.
Thirty-three. If you’re a cockney from London you might say firee-free.
You mean thirty-three?
No, firee-free. So the th becomes f, and with the t sound there’s a glottal stop so you stop the t in your throat. Fir-ee. Fir-ee-free. But that’s not what you’re doing?
No, I’m saying thirty.
The t there is like a d in American English. Linguists often call it a flap t. If something flaps it moves up and down or side to side very fast.
The wings of a bird flap.
A flag can flap in the wind.
It’s a very fast movement.
Your tongue has to move fast too to make that sound.
Thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three.
There are different symbols for this sound. But many dictionaries write it as a t because t and d belong to the same family of sounds.
Really?
Yes, Our mouth position is the same, but we add voice to make a d. t. d. There’s vibration here for d.
t. d. Oh yes!

OK, I have another question for you.
What is it Vicki?
This is an addition question. Fifty plus ten equals.
Sixty.
He’s very good.

I’d say fifty and sixty.
Fifty and sixty.
So Americans generally say this flap t in tens numbers.
Thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety.
OK, something different now. This isn’t a British and American difference, but it’s something my students often find hard. It’s numbers like thirteen and thirty.
So fourteen, forty, fifteen, fifty, sixteen, sixty.
If you think these numbers sound similar, you’re not alone.
Native speakers sometimes find them hard to distinguish too.

Do we have a meeting with Kathy, today?
Yes, this afternoon.
Oh, what time is it? I can’t be late again.
Oh yes. She was furious last time.
When is it?
Let’s see. Three fifteen.
Three fifty. I’ll set an alarm for 3.40 so I won’t be late. What?
Oh nothing. See you there!
See you there.

I’m going to arrive late now! You set me up again!
Yes, I didn’t correct you.
To set someone up is a phrasal verb and it means to trick them. You might make it appear that they have done something wrong when they haven’t.
Yeah! You’re going to get into trouble when you’re late again.
Three fifteen, three fifty. They sound very similar. How do we tell the difference?
It’s all about the stress. With numbers like thirty, forty, fifty, the stress is always on the first syllable.
That’s true in British and American English.
THIRty, FORty, FIFty.
SIXty, SEVENty, EIGHTy.
So the first syllable is longer, louder and higher in pitch.
Now have a look at these numbers. Where’s the stress?
With teen numbers, the stress can be on the first syllable OR it can be on the second syllable. It depends what we want to make clear.
If we’re counting where’s the stress? For example: THIRteen, FOURteen, FIFteen, SIXteen.
If we’re counting, the stress is on the first syllable. We want to distinguish between the numbers so we stress the part that’s different. That’s the first syllable.
OK. Now what if the number comes in front of a noun? Where’s the stress? For example THIRteen people. FOURteen years. FIFteen dollars.
The stress is on the first syllable again.
it’s because the number was followed by a noun. But if there’s no noun, it’s different. Listen.

I don’t like the number thirTEEN. It’s unlucky.

So Jay stressed the second syllable there.
I said thirTEEN.

How many days until my birthday? FourTEEN.

Vicki stressed the second syllable there.
When we say the number on its own we stress the teen. One more example.

Which floor?
Fifteen. Thank you.

When we say these numbers on their own, we generally stress TEEN.
It sounds complicated. How can everyone remember which syllable to stress?
There’s a simple way.
Good.
Just remember two things. First one – in numbers like thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, the stress is always on the first syllable.
That’s easy.
And the second thing. If you think confusion is a possibility, put the stress on ‘teen’ in the teen numbers – thirTEEN, fourTEEN, fifTEEN, sixTEEN.
And that’s how English speakers avoid confusion.

I filled your car with gas.
Oh thank you. How much do I owe you?
Sixty dollars.
OK. Ten, fifteen, sixteen. Thanks.
No, I said SIXty dollars.
Oh. I thought you said sixTEEN dollars.

The first time I said SIXteen dollars. But when there was confusion, I stressed the teen.

Oh. I thought you said sixTEEN dollars.

So stress the second syllable in teen numbers
Exactly. SIXty, sixTEEN.
It’s the same in British and American English. SIXty, sixTEEN.
Yes.
But you know, there are some other ways we say numbers differently. Like telephone numbers, and dates.
Yeah. We’ll make another video about them, but I should say goodbye to Super Agent Awesome now.
Oh yes.

So. Super Agent Awesome. Thank you for helping us with this video. Do you have a message for our viewers?
Absolutely. Why wouldn’t I? Hey English learners. Super Agent Awesome here. If you want to subscribe to this channel, hit that icon right here. And if you see the bell icon next to the subscribe button, you can get notified. And what notified means is on your YouTube account you can gat notified everytime Jay and Vicki have released a video. And you can watch it very early. Heck! You can be the first one here! So that’s my special announcemnet and it’s over. I’m Super Agent Awesome and remember, always stay awesome! Peace!
If you want to see another video that Jay and Vicki posted, hit that icon right here. And if you want to see another one because your mind is blown, hit this icon right here. And if you want to subscribe to this channel, hit that icon right here.

 
Click here to see some more videos on British and American differences.
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Pronouncing numbers in British and American English

tricky words to pronounce

Tricky words to pronounce in British and American English

We’re back with some more tricky words to pronounce in English. Hear how some English learners say them and then listen to how Vicki and Jay say them, in British and American English. It’s a fun way to improve pronunciation.

In this video you’ll learn the pronunciation and meaning of these words:

Mishap
Depth
Mishap
Posthumously
Choir
Asked
Onomatopoeia
Sword

Click here to see more pronunciation videos

Tricky words to pronounce in British and American English

Hi. We’re back with some more words that are difficult to pronounce in British English
And in American English.
Are you ready to try them?
Let’s get going.
Hello everyone! I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American. We want to say thank you to everyone who has suggested words that are hard to pronounce.
You made some great suggestions and we’ve asked some English learners to try saying them for us
Yeah, here’s the first one. Let’s see how they did.

Mishap.
Mishap.
Mishap.
Mishap.

Ha! Oh dear, they’re all wrong.
This word is confusing.
Yeah.

Mishap? Mishap. Mishap? What’s this word?

She got it right the first time. It’s mishap. It’s an s sound, sss. Not sh.
And it means a small accident or mistake.
Yes, a mishap isn’t serious. It’s when something goes wrong, but it’s just a small thing.

Mishap.

He got it right.
Yes, he did well. He didn’t have a mishap with mishap.
Say it with us.

Mishap.
Mishap.

OK, what’s next?
Let’s see.

Depth.
Depth.

Oh dear, no no no no.
That was hard.
Yes. It’s a short word and you’ve got to say a lot of sounds very quickly.

Depth.Yeah. Thank you.
Depth.

They did well.
Yeah.
So what does depth mean?
It’s how deep something is, so the distance from the top of something to its bottom.
The depth of a swimming pool.
The depths of the ocean.

Depth.
Depth.

So you’ve got a p sound: p. And then you’ve got to move your tongue forward very quickly for the th sound.
Try saying it with us.

Depth.
Depth.

You know, I have hidden depths.
Really?
Yes, there are lots of interesting and unknown things about my character. I’m very deep.
Let’s see what’s next.
OK.

Oh. Posthumously.
Hmm. Posthumously.
Posthumously.
Posthumously. Posthumously.

Oh nearly, but they’ve all got the word stress wrong.

Posthumously? I don’t think I got that one.
Posthumously.
Posthumously.

So what does it mean?
OK. If something happens after someone’s death, it’s posthumous. Like someone might write a book and then die, and then they publish the book posthumously, so after their death.
Or heroes who died in battle might receive a posthumous medal.
Yes, and the stress is on the first syllable. Say it with us

Posthumously.
Posthumously.

Can we have a happier word now?
Yes, here’s a nice one.

Choir.
Choir. Choir?
Choir.

Oh this is another hard one.
Yes.

Choir.

Hey, she got it right!
Yeah. It doesn’t start with ch or sh sound. It starts with a kw.

Choir.
Choir.

So what does it mean?
A choir is a group of people who sing together. Like a church choir or a school choir.
Let’s show everyone.
[choir singing]
Wow, we’re good!
Yeah, let’s do that again!
[choir singing]
OK, say the word choir with us.

Choir.
Choir.

OK, what’s next?
Let’s see.

Asked.
Asked.

Ah, that’s not right!
It should just be one syllable, right?
Yes, and it ends with a t sound… t.
So we write E-D but we say T?
That’s right. It happens in the past tense when verbs end with an unvoiced sound.
We should make another video about that.
It’s on my list. We will.
Good. So subscribe to our channel everyone so you don’t miss it.
And we say the word ‘asked’ a little differently in American and British English.
See if you can hear the difference.

Asked.
Asked.

So in British English we say ‘ah’.
And in American English we say ‘a’.
This happens with quite a few words, like bath.
Bath.
Banana.
Banana.
So you can choose. You can say asked or asked.
Say it with our learners.

Asked.
Asked.
Asked.
Asked.
Asked.

What’s next?
We’ve got a long word now.

Errr. Ono…Onomatopoeia. I don’t know.
Onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia. I don’t know.
Onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia.

They nearly got it.
Yes, what does this word mean?
It’s when you use words that sound like their meanings. Like the word hiss sounds like a hiss. SSSss
Or the beep sound your cell phone makes. Beep beep.
Or how buzz sounds like buzzing.

Onomatopoeia.
Great.
Onomatopoe… Onomatopoeia.
Fantastic!

They did a great job!
Yes. It’s all about getting the rhythm right. ONomatoPOEIa.

Onomatopoeia
Onomatopoeia.

So how many syllables does it have?
ON-oh-mat-oh-PEE-a – six!
And the main stress is on PEE.
Yes, and there’s a secondary stress on ON. Here’s how we say it.

Onomatopoeia.
Onomatopoeia.

What’s that trick you use for pronouncing long words?
It’s called backchaining. You start at the back and then work forward. Try it with me.
-a.
PEE-a.
to-PEE-a.
ma- to-PEE-a.
o- ma- to-PEE-a.
ON-o- ma- to-PEE-a.
Did it help you say it? OK, let’s do one more word.
Another hard one?
Yes!

Sword.
Sword.
Sword.
Sword.

Nice tries but the W should be silent.

Sword.
Sword.

Now they got it right.

Sword.
Sword.

So what’s a sword?
It’s a weapon with a long metal blade and a handle.
There’s a famous saying. The pen is mightier than the sword.
Yes, it means words are more powerful than physical force, because you can change people’s opinions with words.
Yes, and it’s easier to write with a pen than with a sword.
We want to say a big thank you to all the learners who helped us make this video. You were very generous and such fun to work with.
And you were very good sports.
Yes. We should explain what being a good sport means?
If someone is a good sport then they are pleasant and cheerful, even in a difficult situation.
And we gave them some difficult words to say.
If you have any suggestions for more difficult words, write and tell us in the comments.
Maybe we can make another video about them.
And if you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend.
And don’t forget to subscribe to this channel.
Bye everyone!
Bye-bye.
Click here to see more pronunciation videos

hard to pronounce words

More words that are hard to pronounce in British and American English

Here are eight words you’ve told us you find hard to pronounce in English.

Watch some English learners pronounce them and learn how we say them in British and American English. It’s a great way to improve pronunciation.

You’ll learn how we say: foreigner, athlete, climb, indict, dangerous, extraordinary, analysis, to analyze, and lure. You’ll also get some practice with shifting words stress and tips on how to pronounce long words by backchaining.

Click here to see videos on more words that are hard to pronounce.
Click here to see some of our grammar videos.
Click here to learn more about British and American English.

Words that are hard to pronounce

Are you ready to practice your English pronunciation?
We’re back with some difficult words to pronounce.
Tricky ones.
We’re going to show you how we say them in American English.
And British English!
Hi, I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
And here’s how this works. Our viewers have sent us suggestions for words that are hard to pronounce.
Thank you everyone who sent us ideas.
Yeah. They were great and we’ve asked some English learners to try to say them.
We’ll show you how they said them and then how we say them.
So, let’s get going. What’s the first one?

Forei…
For… Foreigner.

This word’s tricky because that g in the middle is a silent letter.

Foreigner. Yes, I’m a foreigner. Me too. I’m from Britain.

Ha! She got it right.
Yes, the spelling is confusing here.
Here’s how we say it.
Foreigner.
Foreigner.
There’s a LITTLE difference in how we both say this word.
Really? What’s that?
The first vowel sound. In British English, I say ‘o’ but you say ‘a’. See if you can hear it.
Foreigner.
Foreigner.
We’ve made another video about that sound, haven’t we?
Yes. I’ll put a link here. Try saying it with our learners.
Foreigner.
Foreigner.
Foreigner.
Foreigner.
OK, what’s next?
Let’s see.

Athlete.
Ath… late?

Ha! So what’s the final vowel sound here?
Listen to how we say it.
Athlete.
Athlete.
So it’s an eee sound.
And the stress is on the first syllable. ATHlete.
An athlete is someone who competes in sports, or someone who’s good at sports, like Serena Williams or Cristiano Ronaldo.
Or like me. I’m a great athlete.
Really?
Yeah! I’m very good at finger wrestling.
The other tricky thing about this word is you need a th sound. Ath th Athlete. Say it with our learners.
Athlete.
Athlete.
Let’s look at another one.
OK.

Climb.
Climb.

Oh, they’re both wrong! OK, the first thing is the b is silent. It’s climb, not climbe.
Yeah, and the vowel sound is eye.
Let’s hear some more learners.

Climb.
Climb.
Climb.
Climb.

They were very good.
Say it with us.
Climb.
Climb.
Have you ever climbed a mountain Jay?
No, but yesterday I had to climb over the dog to get into bed.
OK, can we have another one?
This one’s hard.

Indict.
Indict.
Indict.

Wow it is hard – they’re all wrong!
Indict… Indict?
Indict.
He got it. He did well. Listen to how we say it.
Indict.
Indict.
So the letter c is silent.
I hear this word a lot in the US. What does it mean?
It’s a verb and it means to officially charge someone with a crime.
We often hear news stories about people being indicted or getting indicted – so being charged with a crime.
Don’t you say indict in British English?
We can, but it’s more common in American English. Say it with us.
Indict.
Indict.
Let’s have something easier now.
OK.

Dangerous.
Dangerous.

Oh nearly. But the first vowel sound is ay.
Like in the word day.
Dangerous.
Dangerous.
What’s the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done, Jay?
Climbing over the dog to get into bed.
Say it with our learners.

Dangerous.
Dangerous.
Dangerous.

OK, next we have a long one.
Great.

Extraordinary.
Extraordinary.
Extra… extraordinary.

They’re nearly right.
Yes, I’d understand them all
The thing is we write extra, but we don’t say the ‘a’ at the end. We go straight on to ‘or’.
Extraordinary.
Extraordinary.
This is an extraordinary word.
Yes, because its pronunciation is unexpected and surprising!
So how many syllables does it have?
Ex-traor-din-ar-y – five! And in British English, it’s interesting because sometimes we say it with four syllables.
Really?
Yeah, extraordinary. Extra-or-din-ary – four.
Extraordinary.
Here’s a useful tip for saying long words like this. It’s called back chaining. You start at the back of the word and work forward. Say it with me.
ry – dinary – ordinary – extraordinary.
Let’s try it with five syllables now.
ry – nary – dinary – ordinary – extraordinary.
OK, what’s next?
It’s a very useful word.

Analysis. Analysis.
Anal… analysis.
Analysis.
Analysis.
Analyisis.
Anlaysis. Oh. Analysis.
Anal. Sis.

It’s a hard one.
Yeah. Lots of my students have problems with this word.
Analysis.
Analysis.
So the stress is on the second syllable. NAL. aNALysis.
But some of our learners got it right.

Analysis.
Analysis.
Analysis.
Analysis.
Analysis.

They did well.
So what does analysis mean?
Oh, an analysis is an examination of something – a study to try to understand it better.
We might do data analysis or statistical analysis – or psychoanalysis
And if you’re ill they might send your blood samples to a laBORatory for analysis.
She means a LABoratory.
Now analysis is a noun, but the verb is ‘to analyse’. And that’s tricky because then the stress is on the first syllable.
To analyse – an analysis.
To analyse – an analysis.
Did you hear the stress move?
It shifted from the first to the second syllable.
Say the words with us.
To analyse – an analysis.
To analyse – an analysis.
Let’s do one more.
OK.

Lure.
Lure.

That was close but the vowel sound is a little different.
We have some more.

Lure.
Lure.
Lure.
Lure, lure? Lure.
You did well.

They were good! We pronounce this word in different ways.
But what does it mean?
When we lure someone, we trick them somehow.
Yes, we persuade them to do something by offering them a reward.
We pronounce this word a little differently in British and American English.
Lure.
Lure or lure.
So you can say this two ways in British English?
Yes, we can say lure but we often put a little j sound in there. Lure.
Lure or lure.
Say it the American way. Lure – it’s easier!
That’s just your opinion. You can choose how you want to say it.
Lure.
Lure or lure.
We must say thank you to all the learners for allowing us to video them.
Yes, they were all terrific.
It was really nice of them to stop what they were doing to talk to us.
And they were all such good fun.
If you enjoyed this video please share it with a friend.
If you have ideas for more words that are hard to pronounce, write and tell us in the comments. Perhaps we can make another video about them.
And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel.
Bye-bye everyone.
Bye.

Click here to see videos on more words that are hard to pronounce.
Click here to see some of our grammar videos.
Click here to learn more about British and American English.

Short vowel O & other vowel sounds

The British short vowel ‘ɒ’ & other English vowel sounds

There’s a short vowel that we use in British English that doesn’t occur in American. You’ll find it in words like ‘lot’, ‘rock’ and ‘bomb’. In this vowel pronunciation video, we compare it with two other vowel sounds that Americans commonly use instead.
Working on English vowels is a great way to improve your accent. Whether you want to sound British or American, this video will help.

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The short vowel ‘ɒ’ and other English vowel sounds

There’s a vowel that I say in British English that Jay doesn’t say in American.
Really?
Yes, I say it a lot.
A lot?
No, a lot.
Lot?
Exactly. You see we say that lot vowel differently.
Today we’re looking at the vowel sound ‘O’. I’m British but I live in the US and this is a vowel sound that I don’t hear here. ‘O’ ‘O’. So in this video we’ll look at what I say and what Jay says instead.
And I’m American so I’m going to show you how to say things properly.
You mean properly.
Properly.
OK, let’s get started and compare how we say some words. See if you can hear the difference.

Hot. Hot.
Hop. Hop.
Rock. Rock.
Job. Job.
Box. Box.
Jog. Jog.
Stop. Stop.
Clock. Clock.
Proper. Proper.
Bomb. Bomb.

Did you hear the difference? I said O.
And I said AH.
So when Jay says bomb, it sounds like balm to me.
Bomb.
OK, balm is a cream that you can put on your skin and it smells nice. Say balm.
Balm.
And a bomb is a weapon that explodes. Say bomb.
Bomb.
They both sound the same in American.
Yes. Bomb. Balm.
OK, let’s look at how I say O.
O is a short vowel sound. I pull my tongue back in my mouth and I round my lips. O. O. It might feel like it pulls your cheeks in a little. Try it. O. O. Bomb. So I said o but what about Jay?
Bomb.
So he says AH, like in the word father, or heart. To say AH you have to drop your jaw and press your tongue down at the back of your mouth. AH. And notice the mouth is very relaxed. You don’t round your lips. AH. AH.
But there are regional variations with how Americans say these words.
They can vary in the UK too.
In some parts of the US, instead of AH, you’ll hear another sound that’s very similar, but a little different.
Let’s hear it Jay.

Sorry. Sorry.
Lost. Lost.
Horrible. Horrible.
Strong. Strong.

So this time you made an AW sound.
AH, AW, they’re very similar.
Yes, with AH, your mouth is relaxed. AH. With AW, your tongue moves back just a little, but the big difference is your lips come forward and round a little.
AH. AW. AH. AW.
I think the AW sound is pretty similar to the British O sound.
Oh, maybe that’s why we understand one another.
Yes.
AH. AW. O. AH. AW. O.
Sometimes we have to check we’ve understood but normally my O sound isn’t a problem.
Unless Tom is staying.
Ah yes. My son’s name is Tom. It’s short for Thomas. So to me, he’s Tom. But what about in American English?
Tom.
Tom?
Yes.
So when Tom’s American friends call to speak to him they say ‘Is Tom in? And I think there’s no Tom here.
She thinks they’ve dialled the wrong phone number.
Yeah. And then I realize they mean Tom.
So if Americans want to make the British sound, what should they do?
OK, AW is a good place to start.
AW, like in the word ‘law’.
Yes. Then pull your tongue up and back a little and round your lips.
AW. O. AW. O.
Yes, and keep your jaw up. There’s generally less jaw drop in British English.
Proper British English.
And proper American English.
We try to teach you both varieties at Simple English Videos.
Yes, and please share this video with a friend if you’ve enjoyed it.
And we’ll see you all next week everyone. Bye.
Bye.
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R sound R sounds R pronunciation

The R sound in British and American English

Learn how to pronounce the R sound in British and American English. Jay has a rhotic accent and Vicki has a non-rhotic accent. You’ll hear how that affects our pronunciation of R before consonants and at the end of words. We’ll help you recognize the pronunciation differences and also share some tips for making perfect R sounds in both British and American English.

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The R sound in British and American English

Hey Jay. Have you seen my keys anywhere?
Yes. Where were they…? Ah. Yes. Here they are.
Thank you. You know Jay, you make rhotic R sounds.
Really? Erotic R sounds?
No. Rhotic R sounds. It means you pronounce your Rs strongly.
Oh.

We received a request from someone called S.
They said ‘Can you do a pronunciation video on the British and American pronunciations of ‘ear’. Also, maybe include ‘air’ in that video too.
What a good idea! Thank you S.
Yes. Vicki’s British and I’m American, so we can do this.
That’s right. It’s one of the big differences in our accents. We say our R sounds differently.
Yeah.
So listen to how Jay and I say the words.

Ear.
Ear.
Air.
Air.

Did you hear the difference at the end of the words? Jay pronounced the r sound more strongly.

Ear.
Ear.
Air.
Air.

Linguists sometimes divide accents and dialects into 2 types: rhotic and non-rhotic accents. Rhotic is when people pronounce the R sounds strongly, like Jay.

Ear, air.

And in non-rhotic accents like mine, we sometimes drop the R sound or say it very weakly.

Ear, air.

There’s a lot of regional variation though.
Yes. There are parts of the UK where people have rhotic accents like Jay. For example, Scotland and Ireland and in the south west of England too
And there are parts of the US where they say the R sound like Vicki, like New England and parts of the south.
But generally speaking, accents in the UK are non-rhotic and accents in the US are rhotic.
So my accent is rhotic, and Vicki’s is non-rhotic.
Now, this doesn’t mean I never pronounce r sounds. I do. I say them clearly when they come in front of a vowel, much like Jay.

Red.
Red.
Kilogram.
Kilogram.
Carry.
Carry.

So we sound pretty similar there. But if the R sound is followed by a consonant, or if it’s at the end of a word, I’ll say it VERY gently. Let’s have some examples.

Heard
Heard
Work.
Work.
Turn.
Turn.
World.
World.
Hard.
Hard.
Large.
Large.
Nearly.
Nearly.
North.
North.
Hurt.
Hurt.
Park.
Park.

Did you hear the difference? Jay’s R sounds were stronger. Let’s see what happens when the R is at the end of the word now.

Farmer.
Farmer.
Here.
Here.
Brother.
Brother.
Were.
Were.
Where.
Where.
Door.
Door.
Measure.
Measure.
Weather.
Weather.
Clever.
Clever.

So in British English, it sounds like you don’t pronounce the r sound in the middle and at the end of words?
Hmmm. Yes, but my feeling is, we do pronounce it. It’s just very weak and gentle.
The R sound is one of the big differences in our accents.
We live in the US and when I speak, people normally understand me just fine, but sometimes I have to change my R sounds to try to sound American. Like, we live on a street called Arch Street. How do you say that Jay?
Arch Street.
Arch Street.
Arch Street.
You see his R sound is stronger. So if I get in a taxi, I try to copy him and I say Arrrch Street.
Oh that’s good!
Yes, well I want to be sure the taxi driver knows where to take me.
Oh. Tell everyone your refrigerator story.
OK. We needed to buy a fridge so called a department store and it had an automated voice recognition system, so I was talking to a machine not a human being. And it said ‘What department do you want?’ so I said ‘fridges’ and it said, ‘We don’t recognize that request’. So I concentrated very hard and I said Rrrefrridgeratorrrs, and it put me straight through.
Ha! So if you want to sound American, make sure you pronounce your R sounds.
Yes. We should talk about that because the R sound is one of the most difficult English sounds for my students to make.
The first thing to understand is your tongue is a very flexible instrument. You can push it out and make it pointy, or you can pull it in. For an R you need to pull it in and back so it gets fatter and thicker. The sides of your tongue might touch the inside of your teeth at the back. Rrrrr. The most common mistake my students make is they let the tip of their tongue touch the top of their mouth. Don’t do that. Your tongue can curl up and get close, but it must not touch. Rrrrr.

Rrrr.

You can hold out this sound. Try it. Rrrrr. You don’t want to drop your jaw.

Rrrun – run.
Rrrun – run.
Rrran – ran.
Rrran – ran.

In American English the lips round a little when R is at the start of a word. There’s less rounding of the lips in British English.

Red.
Red.
Wrote.
Wrote.

When R is at the end of words, there’s not much rounding in British or American.

Great. So is that it?
Yes. And I need to go now. Where did you park the car, Jay?
You mean where did I park the car? In the garage.
The garage. Bye-bye everyone.
Bye-bye.

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english word pronunciation

8 words that are hard to pronounce in English

We’re back with another eight words that are hard to pronounce in British and American English. Watch some English learners pronounce them and learn how Vicki and Jay say them.

You’ll learn how to say: fifth, basically, chaos, refrigerator, fridge, Tuesday, photograph, photography, height, weight and eight. You’ll also get some pronunciation tips for how to pronounce long words and shifting words stress.

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8 words that are hard to pronounce in English

Hi everyone. I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
And we’re back with eight more words that are to pronounce in English.
We asked some English learners to pronounce some tricky words for us.
We’re going to see how they say them and then we’ll show you how Vicki and I say them.
So in British and American English. Ready? First word…

Fif.
Feeth.
Fifth, fife, feeth.
Fit. Fit? I don’t know.

Ha! That was a hard one to start with.
Yes, it’s tricky because you have to move from f to th. With f your top teeth are touching your bottom lip. f. f .
f. f.
But with th you have to bring your tongue forward. It touches your teeth. th. th.
th. Fifth. Fifth. You have to move your tongue forward very quickly.
Yeah.
Fifth.
Fifth.
Try saying it with our learners.

Fifth. Fifth. Fifth. Fifth.

OK. What’s next?
Let’s see.

Basically. Basically. Ba…Basically.

Nearly! But how many syllables does this word have?
I say bay-sic-ally – three syllables.
Me too.

Basically. Basically. Basically. Basically. Basically.

That’s it!
Yes! They did well. Say it with us.
Basically.
Basically.
Great, what’s next?
The next word comes from Greek.

Caow. Shoaos. Cawoh. Sh… Showos. Sh… Showos.

Oooo. No, no, no. It starts with a k sound and we pronounce the s at the end. Chaos.
Chaos.
Chaos.
Chaos means in a mess. When there’s chaos, nothing is organized.
Yes, everything is confused and nothing is in order.
It’s like when you’ve been cooking. The kitchen is in chaos.
What do you mean?
It takes me ages to clean up. Say it with us.
The kitchen’s in chaos.
The kitchen’s in chaos when Vicki’s been cooking.
OK, what’s next?
Let’s try a long one.

Oh. Re… Refri… No, I don’t… Refri… No.

Ha! OK, here’s a trick. When it’s a long word, sometimes it’s easier to start at the back and work forward. It’s called backchaining. Try it with me.
-tor
-rator
-erator
-FRIGerator
reFRIGerator
Could you say it?
Try it with our learners.

Refrigerator. Refrigerator. Refrigerator.

You know we say this word a little differently.
Yeah. Your r sounds are stronger than mine. It’s a British and American difference.
Refrigerator.
Refrigerator.
But I have a different way to say this word that’s much easier.
What’s that?
In British English we usually just say fridge.
Fridge.
Fridge?
Yeah, we say fridge. It means the same thing.
Don’t listen to her. It’s a refrigerator.
OK, here’s a useful word.

Tuesday. Tuesday. Tuesday. Tuesday.

They’re pretty good.
Yes. Now, I can say this word in two ways. Tuesday and ‘Tuesdii’.
Ah, me too.
Tuesday and ‘Tuesdii’.
Tuesday and ‘Tuesdii’.
But there’s a slight difference in how we say the first syllable. See if you can hear it.
Tuesday.
Tuesday.
You say too and I say tyoo. Did you hear the difference? In British English there’s a little j sound. ‘Tjuesday’.
That’s weird.
Tuesday.
Tuesday.
So you can ‘chjoose’ how you say it.
Try it with our learners.

Tuesday. Erm, Tuesday. Tuesday. Tuesday.

OK, next one.
Yes. This one’s really hard.

Owry. Ayree. Ahree.

Oh no! They were all wrong!
The pronunciation is awry. What does awry mean Vicki?
If something goes awry, then it doesn’t go in the way that was planned.
So if we plan to have a party on our deck but then it rains, our plans go awry.
That’s right.
Awry.
Awry.
We had to help our learners with that one.

Oree…
Awry.
Awry? OK.
Oree? Oree?
Awry.
Awry. All right.

OK, what’s next?
Let’s see.

Photo-graphy. Photo-graphy. Photo-graphy.

Ah, not quite!
It’s tricky because there’s a PHOTograph – that’s the picture, and then there’s the activity of taking photographs and that’s phoTOgraphy.
Yes, the word stress shifts.
Photograph. Photography.
Photograph. Photography.
So in photography you’ve got to stress TOG. Photography.
Say it with our learners.

Photography. Photography.

OK, let’s have the last one.
This word’s very common.

Hate. Hate? Height. Hate. Height.

So is it hate or is it height?
It’s height. So how tall or high off the ground something is.
Hate is a different word. Like I hate going to the dentist.
Me too. But here’s how we say height.
Height.
Height.
It’s confusing because of the spelling. Because with the number eight we say eight.
Yes, and there’s also weight, so how heavy something is. Weight.
But the vowel sound is different in height.
Eight, weight, height.
Eight, weight, height.
English spelling is really confusing.
Yes. Say height with our learners.

Height. Height. Height. Height. Yeah!

If you want to see some more words that are hard to pronounce, we’ve made some other videos.
Yeah, I’ll put a link here.
And let us know in the comments what words you find hard to pronounce in English and perhaps we can make another video about them too.
See you all next week everyone!
Bye.
Bye-bye.
We’d like to say a big thank you to all the English learners who helped us make this video.
They were terrific and such good fun.
Click here and click here to see more words that are hard to pronounce
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