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.

Click here and click here to see more words that are hard to pronounce

Click here learn more about British and American English differences

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
Click here learn more about British and American English differences

the pronunciation schwa

How to Pronounce A, An and The – The Schwa Vowel

The is the most common word in English, but how do we pronounce it? And how do we say a and an too?
In this lesson we look at how we say these words in British and American. You’ll learn the rules we follow when words start with a vowel or consonant sound and also, how we pronounce the schwa vowel.

Click here to see more pronunciation videos

The pronunciation of A, An and The in British and American English – The Schwa Vowel

This is the most common word in English, but how do we pronounce it?
Yes, and what about these words too?
Hi I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
Several people have asked us to make a video about how we both say these words.
And if you have requests for videos you want us to make, write and tell us.
We can’t promise we can do it, but we’ll try.
OK. Let’s show everyone how we say these words in action.

I’m off.
Oh, are you going to the cafeteria?
Well, yes.
Could you get me an apple, and a bag of crisps and a sandwich?
What kind of sandwich?
An egg sandwich.
Got it. That’s an apple, a bag of eggs and a chip sandwich.
No, no!

So you heard the.
The cafeteria
You heard a.
A sandwich.
And an.
An apple and an egg sandwich.

What kind of sandwich?
An egg sandwich.

So when do we say a and when do we say an?
We say a before consonant sounds and an before vowel sounds. So it’s an apple, an egg, an ice cream, an orange, an umbrella.
Well that sounds easy.
Yes, the tricky thing is the schwa sound.
The schwa is the most common sound in spoken English and it’s a nothing sound. With other English vowel sounds you have to move your mouth or tongue into position, but for the schwa, you do nothing. Just stay relaxed, release your voice and it happens. A. Try it.
A.
A sandwich.
A.
A bag of chips.
Now, just add an n sound and you’ve got an. It’s also unstressed. Try it.
An.
An apple.
An.
An egg sandwich.
Great. Now the. That’s th and the schwa sound again. The.
The.
The sandwich.
The.
The cafeteria.
You want a weak pronunciation for a, an and the, so a short, quiet sound that’s low in pitch. If you focus on stressing the words that follow them. It’ll help you pronounce them weakly. Try some more.
An apple, a bag of crisps and a sandwich.
An apple, a bag of eggs and a chip sandwich.
Great. Now something about this rule. It’s about vowel SOUNDS. It’s not the letter of the alphabet that’s important. It’s the sound.
Let’s watch another conversation and you’ll see what we mean.

Here’s your lunch.
Oh thank you. How much do I owe you?
Seven dollars.
Here you go.
Err, what’s this?
Oh, that’s a euro.
Ah! And what’s this?
That’s a one-pound coin.
But I can’t use them.
Oh well I’ll keep them then. Thanks.
Hmmph!
What’s the matter? It was an honest mistake!

What word goes here – a or an? It’s a. And here?
It’s a again.

Err. What’s this?
Oh, that’s a euro.
Ah! And what’s this?
That’s a one-pound coin.
But I can’t use them.

Euro starts with the letter e and one starts with the letter o. They’re vowels. But it’s the sound that matters not the spelling.
Euro starts with a /j/ sound and one starts with a /w/ sound. They’re consonant sounds, not vowels so we say a.
Here’s a different one. What goes here? Let’s see.

Hmmph!
What’s the matter? It was an honest mistake!

Is it a or an? It’s an. Honest starts with the letter h – a consonant, but it’s a silent letter in this word and it’s the sound that matters.
o – honest – o – that’s a vowel sound, so we say and write an honest mistake.
OK, that’s a and an, but what about the?
A similar rule operates. It has one pronunciation before vowel sounds and another before consonant sounds.
See if you can spot both sounds in this conversation.

Can I borrow a button?
But they’re mine.
I know. Give me the pink one.
But this is the= only one I have that makes this noise.
Then give me the other one.
The orange one?
Yes.
But this is my favourite.

Did you spot the two pronunciations? The and the (thee). The becomes the (thee) in front of vowel sounds.
The pink one. The (thee) orange one.
Did you hear the difference?
The pink one. The (thee) orange one.
And something else happened there too. When Vicki said the orange one, did you hear a little linking sound? The -j- orange. The -j- orange – it’s a very small sound. You heard it here too.
The only one.
The other one.
j- it links words that end in /i:/ when the next word begins with a vowel sound – so with two vowel sounds, we put a little consonant in there. Try it.
The only one.
The other one.
The – the (thee) – a- an. Is there a difference between how we say these words?
You mean in British and American English?
Yes.
I can only think of one case where we say them differently.
What’s that?
Herb.
You mean herb.
A herb is a plant we add to food to make it taste good – like parsley, mint or oregano.
You mean oregano.
But we say this word differently. I say herb.
And I say herb – the h is silent.
So it’s a herb for me
And it’s an erb for me.
But we still follow the same rule. I say a because it starts with a consonant sound for me.
And I say an because it starts with a vowel sound for me.
It’s all about the sounds.
Let’s have a quiz on that.
OK, we’re going to show you a word or phrase and you have to decide if goes with a, an, the or the (thee). Ready?

An or an? It’s an. The h is silent so it starts with a vowel sound. An hour.
A or an? It’s a – a hotel – it starts with a consonant sound – h.
And this one? It’s a unicorn. It starts with a j sound – a consonant sound.
This stands for United States of America – but is it the or the (thee)? It’s the. It starts with a j sound – the USA.
And this stands for European Union. The European Union. It starts with a j sound too.
This stands for Federal Bureau of Investigation and it’s… It’s the (thee). It starts with an e sound – a vowel sound.
And this stands for United Nations – and it’s the. It starts with j. And it’s the same for the United Nations. And the United Kingdom.
This is an MP3 player. An. MP3.
What’s this? A xylophone. It starts with a zed sound.
She means a zee sound, a xylophone. But what’s this? It’s an X-ray. e. X-ray.
This is Prince William and he’s… the (thee) heir to the throne. The h is silent.
And the last one. This one is a message. And what about this? It’s an SOS message. e. SOS.

So how did you do?
You can watch again if you didn’t get them right.
Now I have another question.
Yes?
We’ve been looking at how we say these words when they’re unstressed, but do we ever stress them?
It’s very unusual, but we can and then their pronunciation changes.
A becomes a (ay), and an becomes an (aan). And if we’re saying the letter of the alphabet, we say Ay.
What about the?
Again, we don’t normally stress that either, but sometimes we can and then the pronunciation changes to the (thee). Let’s see an example.

You know I met the queen last week.
Uhuh.
She seems very nice.
You mean you met the (thee) queen?
Yes.
The queen of the United Kingdom.
Yes.
Where did you meet?
Online. Look, she’s following me on twitter.
Oh!

Did you spot it? I said ‘You mean you met THE (thee) queen?’
That’s interesting because queen starts with a consonant.

She seems very nice.
You mean you met THE (thee) queen?
Yes.
The queen of the United Kingdom.
Yes.

I stressed the because I was surprised and I wanted to emphasize the word queen – to check I’d understood.
So we can say the (thee) to emphasize the word that follows?
That’s right. But it doesn’t happen very often. The important thing to know is how to say these words when they’re unstressed.
And we’ve practiced that.
Yes, so that’s it. We’re done for this week.
Subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss our next video!
Yes. See you all next Friday everyone.
Bye!
Click here to see more pronunciation videos

l r and v w sounds

l r, v w and s sh – Practice these sounds with English tongue twisters

Do you find it hard to pronounce the English v and w sounds? Or maybe the l and r sounds? Or perhaps s and sh are tricky? Or perhaps you just want to improve your pronunciation and diction and have some fun with English tongue twisters? Then this video is for you.
We’ll practice phrases that even native speakers find hard to say quickly like very well, red lorry yellow lorry and she sells sea shells.

Click here to see more pronunciation videos
Click here to see a funny tongue twister song

Tongue Twisters Video Script

Hello everyone. Welcome to Simple English Videos. I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American. And today we’ve got some more English tongue twisters for you to try.
Tongue twisters are short phrases that are hard to pronounce.
We find them hard and we’re English speakers.
So they’re really hard if you’re learning English, but great practice because they get your mouth muscles moving.
We’ve got some learners helping us today. Let’s see them in action.
OK, here’s the first one.

Very well, very well, very well.
Very well, very well, very well, very well.

He had to think really hard there.
Yeah, he did well because he comes from Finland. In Finnish, w is pronounced a bit like an English v sound.
So this is really hard for him.
Yeah, and there are other languages where v sounds like f. fff.
So this tongue twister is good practice?
Yes, and it’s good for everyone if you want to pronounce clearly. Actors do exercises like this before they go on stage.
It improves their diction – how clearly they say things.
Exactly.
You need to start slowly and then gradually speed up.
For v, you want your top teeth to touch your bottom lip but keep your lips relaxed. V – v – you should feel a little vibration there.
V. What about w?
At the start of making the w sound, you need to make your lips round and a little hard.
Like you’re going to kiss someone.
Yeah. W is a short sound. W w
V. W. V. W. Very well. Very well.
If you look in a mirror, you should see your lips go round at the start of ‘well’. Well.
Try saying it with our learners.

Very well, very well, very well.
Very well, very well, very well.
Very well, very well, very well, very well.

They said it very well! OK. What’s the next one?
Red lorry, yellow lorry.
Lorry. That’s a British word. We say truck in American English.

Red lorry, yellow lorry. Red lorry, yellow lorry.
Red lorry, yellow lorry.
Red lorry, yellow lorry. Red lorry, yellow lorry. Red lorry, yellow lorry.

It’s not easy.
Yeah. It’s good practice for l and r sounds.
l – yellow, l – yellow.
With l the tongue touches the top of your mouth just behind your top teeth.
And with R it doesn’t touch. r – red, r – red
Yeah, the tongue doesn’t touch. And your lips are a little rounded at the start. Red, red.
Say it with our learners.

Red lorry, yellow lorry. Red lorry, yellow lorry. Red lorry, yellow lorry.
Red lorry, yellow lorry. Red lorry, yellow lorry.
Red lorry, yellow lorry. Red lorry, yellow lorry. Whoo! That’s a tongue twister. Yeah!

It IS a tongue twister!
Yeah. It’s hard.
I’ve got an easy way to say it in American English.
What’s that?
Red truck, yellow truck, red truck, yellow truck.
That’s cheating. OK, last one.
What is it?
It’s a very famous tongue twister. Let’s hear it.

Sally sells sea shells by the seashore. Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore. Sally sells sea shells by the seashore.
Sally sells sea shells by the seashore. Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore. Sally sells sea shells by the seashore.

So Sally is a girl’s name and the shore is the land along the edge of the sea or ocean.
It’s where the land meets the water. I think we say the word shore a little differently in American and British.
Shore.
Shore.
Shore.
I pronounce the r more strongly. Shore.
And in American English you talk about going to the shore for a vacation.
Yeah, and what do you say?
In British English we talk about going to the seaside for a holiday.
Let’s hear you say the tongue twister.
Sally sells sea shells.
Sally sells sea shells.
You’ve got to move quickly between sh and s for this one. S – your tongue is forward, and then you pull it up and back a little for sh.
s sh s sh.

Sally sells sea shells by the seashore.
Sally sells sea shells by the seashore. Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore. Sally sells sea shells by the seashore. Whoo! Brilliant.

I think we need some music for this one. What do you think?
Yeah, let’s get some mood music. Sea shore music.
OK. See if you can say this rhyhme with us.

She sells sea shells on the sea shore,
and the shells she sells are sea shells, I’m sure.
For if she sells sea shells on the sea shore.
Then I’m sure she sells sea shore shells.

OK, that was pretty easy, I think.
Do you think they say it faster?
Sure you can!
OK then. Let’s try. Are you ready?

She sells sea shells on the sea shore,
and the shells she sells are sea shells, I’m sure.
For if she sells sea shells on the sea shore.
Then I’m sure she sells sea shore shells.

Could you keep up with us? You can play it again if it was hard.
We need to say a big thank you to all the learners who appeared in this video.
Yeah, you were great. Thank you very much.
I think we’ve finished, haven’t we?
Yeah. But we’ll be back next week with a new video.
So make sure you subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss it.
See you next week. Bye everyone.
Bye-bye.
Click here to see more pronunciation videos
Click here to see a funny tongue twister song

10 more difficult words to pronounce in British and American English

10 more difficult words to pronounce in British and American English

We’re back with 10 more words that English learners find hard to pronounce. British spelling is so different from its pronunciation! Some of these are tricky, but they’re also fun. Check you’re saying them right! You’ll hear how we say them in British and American English.


Click here to see our first video with ten words that are hard to pronounce, and click here to see the second one.
Click here to see more pronunciation videos.

10 more words that are hard to pronounce video script

Hello everyone. I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
And we’re back with another 10 words that are hard to pronounce in British and American
English.
Thank you to everyone who has told us about words you find hard to pronounce.
Yeah, that was great. Let’s get going.
OK, here’s the first one.

Queue. I don’t know.
Oh. que, que, que?

That’s funny. This word looks nothing like it sounds.
Yeah, the spelling is so different.

Queue. Queue. Queue.

Now they’ve got it right!
Yes.
Queue. Queue.
But we don’t usually say queue in American English. When we’re waiting, we wait in
line.
And British people wait in a queue. We do it a lot because we’re very polite.
Yeah right. Let’s see what’s next.

Iron. Iron. Iron.

Ah, not quite. This word is tricky. In British English, the r is silent.
So you write r but you don’t say it?
Yes, we say iron. Iron.
Mmm. I think you say it a little differently in American.
Iron.
Ah, so you pronounce the r, but it comes after the schwa.
Iron. Iron. Say it with us.
Iron. Iron. Iron. Iron.
What’s next?
OK, several people suggested this one.

Chocolate. Chocolate.

That’s not right.
Yes, it looks like it has three syllables but it only has two.

Chocolate. Chocolate.

They’re good! It has 2 syllables – chock-lit-
and the final vowel sound is I, not ay.
Chocolate.
Chocolate.
Now I come from Brooklyn in New York and we have a different sound at the start too.
What’s that?
Chawklit.
Chawklit. So like chalk?
Yeah, chawklit! Chawklit.
Don’t say it like that! Chocolate! OK, what’s
next?
Another suggestion from a viewer.

Environment. Environment.

Ah, it’s not veer, it’s vai. Environment.
Environment.
Environment.
You’ve got to get the rhythm right. Vi gets the stress.
EnVIronment
Let’s back chain it. Say it with me.
-ment -ronment -vironment – environment
So that n sound is very weak?
Yes, and sometimes it disappears. Say it with our learners.

Environment. Environment. Environment.

Next one?
Yes – this one’s a very common word.

Wednesday. Wednesday.

Not quite. OK, so there’s a question here.
Is it three syllables – Wednesday – or two syllables – Wednesday?
Wednesday. Wednesday.
It’s two syllables. Wednesday.
And remember the first D is silent. Try it!
Wednesday? Wednesday. Wednesday. Wednesday.
Next one?
Yep.
This one will really get your mouths moving.

Sixth. Sixth. Sixth.
Errr… Sixthes? Six? Sixth?

It’s really hard.
Is it the th sound?
Yes, very few languages have this sound. Unfortunately
English is one of them. Sixth. Sixth. After six you’ve got to get your
tongue forward to say sixth.
Sixth.
Sixth.
We should make another video about that th sound.
Yeah.

Sixth. Sixth. Sixth.

Hey, they were pretty good. Is there an easier way to say this?
Yes. You can cheat. Skip the th sound and say siks.
Siks.
Siks.
We sometimes say that when we’re speaking fast.
Next one?
Yeah.
This comes from a viewer too.

Err tongue.
Tongue. I don’t know.

The spelling and pronunciation are so different.
Yes. This is your tongue. Tongue.
Tongue. So we don’t say tong. It’s tongue.
Yeah. It’s an ^ sound. And there’s no g sound
at the end. It’s just ng. It’s in your nose. ng.
Tongue.
Tongue.
Say it with our learners

Tongue. Tongue. Tongue. Tongue.

OK, the next one’s interesting.
What’s that?

Infamous. Infamous. Infamous. Infamous. Infamous.

Ah, they’re all wrong!
It’s hard. So what’s the problem here?
The word stress – we say INfamous. Not inFAMous
INfamous. It means famous but in a bad way – not in a good way.
Yes, like an infamous killer.
An infamous crime.
Infamous. Infamous.
The prefix ‘in’ can change the meaning of a word into its opposite.
Like, incorrect is the opposite of correct.
Yes. Independent, indirect, inexpensive. They’re
all opposites.
OK, next one?
Yeah. Let’s have something easier.

February. February. February. It’s very difficult this word for French people.

They’re pretty good.
Yes. We can pronounce this word in different ways. We can say the r sound – roo – Feb|roo|a|ry
or we can make a j sound Feb|you|a|ry.
Feb|roo|a|ry Feb|you|a|ry. Oh yeah.
I think most people say Feb|you|a|ry. It’s
a little easier.
February.
February.
Another question. How many syllables does it have?
Feb|ru|a|ry – 4 syllables.
OK, in British English we also say Feb|ru|ary.
Feb|ru|ary. 3 syllables. February. So say it however you like and we’ll probably understand.
Chocolate.
No, not Chocolate, but February.
That’s easy to say.
Yes. Now let’s finish with a hard one. OK.

Worcestershire. Worcestershire.
Worcestershire. OK. Worcestershire. What is that?

This is the name of a place in England, and it’s also the name of this sauce.
It’s hard to say.

Oh my god! Worcestershire

She nearly got it right!
Yeah, we say Worcestershire (Woostershire).
It’s the name of a county in England, so an area that has its own government. And Worcester
is the name of a town.
We have a town called Worcester in Massachusetts – same spelling and pronunciation.
You got it from us.
Worcester
Worcester
It’s the same in British and American.
But there’s another town in Pennsylvania called Worcester, so some people might say
that. Worcester.
Well what’s this?
Well I say Worcestershire sauce.
In British English we drop the shire and just say Worcestershire (Wooster).
Worcestershire sauce
Worcestershire sauce.
Would you like some Worcestershire sauce in your tomato juice?
In my tomato juice, yes.
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.
If you liked it please give us a thumbs up and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel.
And if there are words you find hard to pronounce
in English, please tell us in the comments below, so we can make a video about them.
See you all next week.
Yeah, bye everyone.
Well, what’s this?
Well, I say Worceses….
Click here to see our first video with ten words that are hard to pronounce, and click here to see the second one.
Click here to see more pronunciation videos.

Eight different ways to say ‘ough’ in English

Eight different ways to say ‘ough’ in English

We write ‘ough’ but how do we pronounce it? In this lesson we look at eight different ways we say the letter combination ‘ough’. We’ve also made a reference chart that you can download for free by clicking here.


Other videos you might enjoy:
The suffix -ion (-tion, -sion)
The prefixes under- and over-
More pronunciation videos

Ough pronunciation video

Hi, today we’re going to look at eight different ways we pronounce these letters in English.
Eight?
Yes, eight!
For those that don’t know us, I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American and today we also have some English learners to help us.
We’re looking at how we pronounce this letter combination in English, because it has lots of different sounds.
Because English is crazy.
So here’s your first task. Listen to our learners say two words, and work out what sound the letters make.

Thought. Thought. Thought.
Bought. Bought. Bought.

They’re good!
Yes. Now, what was the sound? Thought – bought – that o-u-g-h is an aw sound – like in the word saw.

Thought. Bought.
Thought. Bought.

Are there other words like that?
Yes, how do you think we say this word?

Out? Owout? Ooch? No? Ought. Ought.

That was hard for them
Yes, we say ought.

Ought.
Ought.

It’s that aw sound again – ought.
So you OUGHT to so remember it.
Here are some more words with this sound. Nought – like the number zero. Brought – the past tense of bring. And fought – the past tense of fight.
They all end with the letter T.
Yes.
So if a word ends with T, we say aw – awt?
Erm, not always. There’s an exception – drought.

Drought. Drought. Drought.

They got it!
Yes. A drought is a long period of time when there’s no rain.

Drought.
Drought.

So for o-u-g-h we say ow.
Yes, ow. Drought – like in the word shout.
OK, what’s the next sound?
Let’s see.

Through. Through.

Through – it’s an ooo sound.
Yes, through – like in the word shoe. Ooo.

Through.
Through.

Stay with us and we’ll get THROUGH all the sounds.
OK, the next word looks very similar, but the sound is very different.

Oh gee, thorough. Thorough.

If we do something completely, we’re thorough.
And when we pay attention to detail we’re thorough.
Say it again.
Thorough.
Thorough. We say this a little differently in British and American English
Really?

Thorough. Thorough. Thorough. Thorough.

You say oh, like in the word row, and I say eh – just a little schwa sound – thorough.
A thorough explanation.
A thorough explanation.
OK, next sound.
This was hard for our learners.

Halthoughth? Althougth? Althuth? Although. Although? Oh my… Although. Although.

Our learners were terrific and we want to say a big thank you to them all.
They were great fun.
And the word was although.

Although.
Although.

We use this when we’re introducing something surprising into a conversation.
ALTHOUGH the word was difficult, they still tried to say it.
And sometimes we shorten it and we just say ‘though’.

Er thoughth? Thougth? Though. Toe? Tuth? Though. Though. Though.

Though. Though. Though. Though.

Now the o-u-g-h sound was oh – like the word ‘go’.
Are there any other words like that?
Yes. There’s dough – dough is a mixture of flour and water that we use to make bread. And there’s also this word.

Doughnut? Ah, doughnut. Doughnut, not that’s… yeah. Doughnut. Doughnut. That one I know.

Everyone knew that one!

Doughnut. Doughnut.

You can also spell it like this.
That’s how we usually spell it in American English.
So there’s although, though, dough, doughtnut. O-u-g-h is an ‘oh’ sound.
Let’s have another one.

Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough? OK, cough.

Cough – it’s an ‘off’ sound – like in the word off.
That’s right.

Cough.
Cough.

Cough is what you do when you have a bad cold. But there’s a similar word with a different sound.

I have no idea what this is but hic coughs? hiccoughs? No.

She got it. It looks like cough but we say hiccups.
Hic, Hic, Hic.
Jay’s got hiccups.
Hiccoughs.
Hiccoughs.
So here the sound us ‘up’.
Now there’s another way to spell this word.
Yes. Usually we spell it like this but you’ll see both spellings.
OK. What’s next?
This is the last one.
All right.
I’ve got two words for you. What’s the sound?

OK, so rough. Rough. Rough. Tough. Tough. Tough.

That wasn’t too tough – they did well!
Yeah.

Rough. Tough.
Rough. Tough.

What’s the sound?
Rough – tough – it’s an uff sound.
Yes, like the word puff or cuff.
Are there any other words like that?
Yes, here’s one.

Enough. Enough. Enough already!

They were terrific
So have you had enough?
I think so! Eight different sounds for o-u-g-h? English is hard.

English is hard. You can understand it through tough thorough though though. Thought! THought! THought!
English is hard. You can understand it through tough thorough thought though.
Yes! Brilliant!

English is hard.
We should write a song about it.
Yeah!
If you want more practice with the sounds and spellings in this video, I’ve made a chart for you. It’s free and I’ll put a link in the details below.
If you enjoyed this video, please give it a thumbs up.
And help a friend whose learning English. Send them a link.
Please subscribe to this channel if you haven’t already.
And see you all next Friday everyone. Bye!
Bye-bye.

Other videos you might enjoy:
The suffix -ion (-tion, -sion)
The prefixes under- and over-

Improve your pronunciation with more English Tongue Twisters

Improve your pronunciation with more English Tongue Twisters

Improve your English pronunciation and have fun with English tongue twisters. They’re a great way to improve diction and practice tricky English sounds. In this lesson we practice ‘Flash message’, ‘I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen’ and ‘a proper copper coffee pot’.

Click here to see our first tongue twisters video and click here to see our third one.
Click here to see more pronunciation videos.

Tongue twisters 2 video script

Hi everyone. I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American and we’ve got some more English tongue twisters today. What does the word twist mean, Vicki?
It means to bend or turn something into a particular shape so tongue twisters are phrases that twist your tongue.
They’re difficult to say quickly, so they’re great pronunciation practice.
And we’ve got some English learners to help us again. Are you ready for the first one?
Yeah!

Flash message. Flash message. Flash message. Flash message. Flash message. Flash message. Flash message. Flash message. Flash message.

You want to start slowly and then speed up.
Yeah. You have to be careful not to muddle up s and sh sounds.
It really gets your mouth moving. Flash message. Flash message.
Yes. Tongue twisters strengthen muscles in your mouth.
That’s good because you’re going to move your mouth differently if you’re learning English.
Yeah, tongue twisters are good practice because you can train you mouth to move in new ways.
Yeah. Say it with our learners.

Flash message. Flash message. Flash message. Flash message. Flash message. Flash message. Flash message. Flash message. Flash message.

They were great. OK, I’m ready for the next one. What is it?
Let’s see.

I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen. I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen. I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen. I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen. I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen. I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen. Wow!

I think we say this a little differently in British and American English.
Really? I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen.
I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen.
My t sounds are stronger than yours, because I’m British. I say kitten. And eating.
Ki’en – I don’t say the t sound. kitten
Yeah, before an ng sound, you don’t pronounce ts in American.
But you do in British English?
Well, if I’m speaking carefully I say kitten. t. kitten. But if I’m speaking quickly and casually, I put a stop on the t as well. Like you. So I’ll say ki’en. But the big difference is I pronounce the t in eating. eating.
EaDing
Yeah, you see that’s a flap t. It’s little like a very fast D sound in American.
EaDing. EaDing.
I say eating. Eating.
I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen.
I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen.
Say it with our learners.

I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen. I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen. I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen. I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen. I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen. I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen. I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen.

That’s funny. OK, what’s next?
A proper copper coffee pot.
What?
A proper copper coffee pot. OK, proper – that means correct or right. Then copper – that’s a kind of metal.
It’s a brown gold color. We use copper to make electric wires.
And pipes, and coins. Can you say it?
A proper copper coffee pot.
Yeah. Let’s see how our learners did.

A proper copper coffee pot. A proper copper coffee pot. A proper copper coffee pot. A proper copper coffee pot. A proper copper coffee pot. A proper copper coffee pot. A proper copper coffee pot. No. It’s not working, is it?

I saved the hardest for last again.
Yes. Our learners were great sports. We want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped us.
Yeah, they were a lot of fun. I think we should have a rhyme now.
A proper copper coffee pot rhyme?
Yeah, let see if you can say it with us and get some rhythm going. .
All I want is a proper cup of coffee. Made in a proper copper coffee pot. You can believe it or not. But I want a cup of coffee from a proper copper pot. Tin coffee pots or iron coffee pots, they’re not good to me. If I can’t have a proper cup of coffee from a proper copper coffee pot, I’ll just have tea.
Could you say it?
We’ll do it again, but this time faster.
See if you can say it with us.
All I want is a proper cup of coffee. Made in a proper copper coffee pot. You can believe it or not. But I want a cup of coffee from a proper copper pot. Tin coffee pots or iron coffee pots, they’re not good to me. If I can’t have a proper cup of coffee from a proper copper coffee pot, I’ll just have tea.
All I want is a proper cup of coffee. Made in a proper copper coffee pot. You can believe it or not. But I want a cup of coffee from a proper copper pot.
Did you keep up with us? You can play it again if you need to.
I think my tongue is twisted now.
If you liked this video, please give it a thumbs up and share it with a friend.
Yeah and make sure you subscribe to our channel. See you next week!
Bye.

A proper copper coffee pot. A proper copper coffee pot. I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen. I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen. Flash message. Flash message. Flash message.

Click here to see our first tongue twisters video and click here to see our third one.
Click here to see more pronunciation videos.

copper coffee pot

A proper copper coffee pot – an English tongue twister song

Can you say a proper copper coffee pot three times fast? This tongue twister song is for English learners who want to improve their speaking and pronunciation. ‘All I want is a proper cup of coffee’ will get your mouths moving, improve your diction and best of all, it’s a whole lot of fun.

Proper Copper Coffee Pot Lyrics

All I want is a proper cup of coffee.
Made in a proper copper coffee pot.
You can believe it or not.
But I want a cup of coffee from a proper copper pot.
Tin coffee pots or iron coffee pots, they’re not good to me.
If I can’t have a proper cup of coffee from a proper copper coffee pot, I’ll just have tea.
All I want is a proper cup of coffee.
Made in a proper copper coffee pot.
You can believe it or not.
But I want a cup of coffee from a proper copper pot.
Click here to see some students trying this tongue twister.

Practice pronunciation with English tongue twisters

Practice pronunciation with English tongue twisters

Improve your English pronunciation and have fun with English tongue twisters. They’re a great way to improve diction and practice tricky English sounds.

Hello everyone and welcome.
For those that don’t know us, I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American and we’ve got something different today.
Yes. We’re going to get our mouths working with some tongue twisters. Tongue twisters.
A tongue twister is a phrase that’s difficult to say quickly and correctly.
So they’re great pronunciation practice.
And we’ve got some English learners to help us. Let’s get started.
OK. The first one is ‘She sees cheese’.
She sees cheese?
Yeah, so with her eyes. She sees cheese.
Let’s see how our learners did.

She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. All right. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese.

They’re good.
Yes, now the trick is to start slowly and then speed up.
Yup, speak slowly first and make sure you pronounce the start and endings of the words very clearly.
She sees cheese.
You have to put your tongue up and back a little for the sh sound, then bring it forward for s. And cheese starts with a t sound. tsh.
So it’s t and sh together? tsh
That’s right. Try it. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. Now faster. She sees cheese. She shes… Oh..
Try it with our students.

She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese.

They were good!
Yeah. Now, what’s the next one?
OK. Ready.
Yeah.
Eddie edited it.
Yeah, so Eddie is a man’s name and edit is what we do to the text in a document, when we change the words.
OK. Let’s see how our learners did.

Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it.

How many syllables are there in edit?
Edit – two syllables. But this is the past tense, so we add -ed. It’s edited. Three syllables.
Eddie edited it.
Try it. Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it. Now faster. Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it.
Try it with our learners.

Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it.

They’re good!
Yeah. You know when you’re learning a new language, it’s not just grammar and vocabulary you have to learn. You have to train your mouth muscles to move in new ways.
Yes, and tongue twisters are great for that. OK. What’s the next one?
I saved the hardest for last. He threw three free throws.
He threw three free throws. Oh. So like in basketball, or soccer, a free throw.
Not soccer. Football. But yeah, free throws.
So let’s see how our learners did.

He threw three free throws. He threw three free throws. He threw three free throws. He threw three free throws. He threw three free throws.

It’s really hard.
Yes. We’ve got a lot of thr sounds there. Th and then r. You have to pull your tongue back fast again.
Three free throws. We need to slow this down.
Yeah, let’s back chain it. Say it with me.
throws
free throws
three free throws
He threw three free throws.
Try it with our learners.

OK. He threw three free throws. He threw three free throws. He threw three free throws. He threw three free throws. He threw three free throws. He threw three free throws.

It’s a tough one. Have we got some music?
Yeah, let’s get some rhythm going. Are you ready?

He threw three free throws.
Who threw three free throws?
He threw free throws.
Three free throws?
Three free throws.
He threw three free throws.
Three free throws through the hoop.

Could you say it?
Let’s speed it up a bit. Say it with us again but faster. 1 2 3 go.

He threw three free throws.
Who threw three free throws?
He threw free throws.
Three free throws?
Three free throws.
He threw three free throws.
Three free throws through the hoop.

Did you keep up with us? You can play it again if you didn’t.
Is that it for this week?
Yes, we’re done.
We need to say a big thank you to our English learners.
Yeah, thank you all so much. You were great.
See you all next week everyone.
Bye.
Bye bye.

Oh, Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it. Eddie edited it. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. She sees cheese. Wonderful. He threw free throws. He threw free throws. Brilliant.

Click here to try more tongue twisters.

hard to pronounce in English

10 more words that are hard to pronounce in English.

Do you know how to pronounce vegetables? And what about the word mirror or psychiatrist? English spellings often don’t match the pronunciation so we’re back with another ten words that learners find hard to pronounce. You’ll hear how we say them in British and American English.

Click here to see our first video on words that are hard to pronounce and click here to see our third one.
Click here to see more pronunciation videos.

10 more words video script

Are you ready to get your mouth moving? We’re back with 10 more words that are hard to pronounce in English.
We’ve got 10 tricky words. We’re going see how some English learners say them and see how Jay and I say them in British and American English. Let’s get started. First word.

Vegetables.
Vegetables.

No. That’s not right.

Vegetables.

That’s better. It only has three syllables. Vege-ta-bles. I know it looks like it has four but it doesn’t.
Vegetables.
Vegetables.
I don’t like vegetables.
I know but they’re good for you. Next word.

Women.
Women.

Woman is the singular, but women is the plural. The vowel sound changes from eh to I
One woman. Two women.
One woman. Two women.
So we write the same letter, but we say it differently.
Yeah. Tricky eh? OK, next word. This one doesn’t look like it sounds either.

Suit.
Suit. Suit.
Suit.

No. This is a sweet and this is a suit.
No that’s a candy and this is a suit.
Suit.
Suit.
There’s another word like that – fruit.
Yeah, fruit and suit. They have the same vowel sound. OK, next word.

Subtle. Sub… Subtle.
Subtle.
Sub… eh… Subtle?

It’s hard to say.
Yeah, the b is silent so we say subtle.
If something is not very noticeable or obvious then it’s subtle.
A subtle difference.
A subtle flavor.
Subtle.
Subtle.
We have a lot of words with silent letters in English.
Yeah. Here’s another common one.

Answer.
Answer.

No, the ‘w’ should be silent.

Answer.

Yeah, that’s it.
Answer.
Answer.
OK, let’s see if you can answer another one.

Clothes.
Cloth.

This one’s hard because you’ve got the th sound quickly followed by s. You have to pull your tongue back very fast. ths – clothes.
Clothes
Clothes
Be careful not to say cloth-es. It’s just one syllable. Clothes
Yeah and don’t say cloth. That’s a different word. Cloth is the material that clothes are made of.
But here’s a secret. If you say close – like close the door – we’ll understand. We say that too, especially when we’re speaking fast.
Put on your clothes.
Put on your clothes.
OK. Next one.

Jewelry, jewelry.
Jewelry. Jewelry?

No. Listen and count the syllables.
Jewellery.
Jewelry.
Jewellery.
Jewelry.
Two or three syllables? It’s like two and a half isn’t it. And sometimes that schwa disappears and we just say two. Jool–ry. Jool-ry.
Say it like that. It’s easier.
Jool-ry.
Jool-ry.
I like your jewlry.
Oh. Thank you. Next word.

Mirror.
Mirror.
Mirror.

It’s another hard one. Look at all those r’s.
Mirror.
Mirror.
Jay’s r sounds are stronger than mine. And we write ‘o’ but we just say a schwa.. Mirror.
And when we’re speaking quickly, you can hardly hear it.
Look in the mirr’.
Look in the mirr’.
OK, next one.

Sour.
Sour. Sour?
Sour.

We pronounce it sour. For example, lemons are sour. And we eat sour cream.
Sour.
Sour.
It rhymes with hour.
Yeah. Hour – sour.
OK. What’s the last word.
Ah, I saved the most difficult for last.

Psychiatrist. Psychia… Psychiatrist.
Oh my god. Psy… Psychiatrist.
Psy… Psy… Ha, ha!

That was a challenge.
Yeah, thank you Remi, Fernando and Hugo. You were great.
But what were they trying to say?
Psychiatrist. You know, like a doctor for mental illnesses.
Psychiatrist.
Psychiatrist.
In words that start with the letters psy like this, the p is silent. We say s. So psychiatry, psychology. Psychiatrist. It has four syllables, psy-chi-a-trist. And there’s a really cool technique that can help you to say long words like this. Back chain them, so start at the back and work forward. trist – atrist- chiatrist- psychiatrist. Again. trist – atrist- chiatrist- psychiatrist. Did you say it?
If you want to see some more words that are hard to pronounce, we’ve made another video about some.
Yeah, I’ll put a link here.
Let us know in the comments below what words you find hard to pronounce in English and perhaps we’ll make another video about them.
Great! See you all next week! Bye. Bye-bye.
Click here to see our first video on words that are hard to pronounce and click here to see our third one.
Click here to see more pronunciation videos.

10 difficult words to say in British and American English

10 difficult words to say in British and American English

What words do you find hard to pronounce in English? In this video we look at 10 words that English learners find tricky and look at how we say them in British and American English.

Are there any words that you’re pronouncing wrongly in English? Let’s find out.
We’re going to look at ten words that are tricky, see how some English learners say them and see how Jay and I say them.
So in British and American English. Ready? First word…

Comfortables – ah, no ‘s’. Comfortable.
Comfortable.
Comfortable.

No, no, no. It’s comfortable. Comfortable. 3 syllables. We write it like it has 4 – comf-or-ta-ble, but the ‘or’ disappears.

Comfortable
Comfortable.

That’s the thing about English pronunciation. We often don’t say what we write. OK. Next one.

Months, months, months.
Months
Months.

Not bad. It’s hard to pronounce this word because it’s got the ‘th’ sound quickly followed by ‘s’. You have to pull your tongue back very fast. Months. Months. Be careful not to say month-es. It’s just one syllable. Months.
Now here’s a secret. If you say muns or munts, we’ll understand. We say that too when we’re speaking fast.

Muns.
Munts.

OK, next one.

Receep.
Receep.

Nope.

Recipe.

Nearly. It has three syllables but the stress is on the first syllable.

Recipe

Mmmm. This soup is delicious.
It was my mother’s recipe.

The next word looks similar.

Recept.
Receipt.
Recept.

No. We don’t pronounce the ‘p’. It’s silent.

Receipt
Receipt

A receipt is a document that shows you’ve paid for something. Let’s hear it in a sentence.

Yes?
I’d like to return this sweater.
Do you have the receipt?
No, I’m sorry. I lost it.
Did you pay by credit card?
No, I paid cash.
Then I’m sorry. I can’t help you.
But I just bought it this morning.

Next word.

Literature.
Literature.
Literature.

It’s hard. How many syllables does it have? Jay and I say it differently.

Literature.
Literature.

Did you hear the difference? In British English it just has three syllables and in American it has four.

Lit-e-ra-ture.
Lite-ra-ture.
Literature.
Literature.

There’s a great way to practise long words like this. It’s called backchaining. You start at the back of the word and work forward. ture-rature-literature. Try it. ture-rature-literature. Great. Next one. Let’s have something easier.

Busy.
Busy.

It’s nearly right but notice the vowel sound. It’s not ooo – and it’s not u like in bus. It’s /I/ like in bit.

Can we talk?
I’m a bit busy.

Busy.
Busy.

OK, next one.

Debt.
Debt.

No.

Debt.

Pretty close! A debt is money that you owe someone. You borrowed some money and now you’re in debt. But the letter b is silent. Listen.

Debt.
Debt.

Another word like that is doubt – when you’re not sure if something is true.
Yes. That has a silent ‘b’ too.
I doubt if you can say the next word.

Hierarchy.
Hierarchy.
Hierarchy.

No,that’s not right.

Hierarchy.
Hierarchy.

This word means a system where people are organized into different levels of importance. So like in a company with the boss at the top. Hierarchy.
Hi-er-ar-chy – it’s four syllables but sometimes we run the first two together so it’s almost three. Hier-ar-chy. Let’s back chain it. Say it with me. chy – archy – hierarchy. Great, next one. This one’s very common.

Aren’t.
Aren’t.
Aren’t.

No, all wrong. When you contract are and not, you have to make them one syllable. But Jay and I say this word differently. Listen.

Aren’t.
Aren’t.

My r is much softer and Jay’s is stronger.

Aren’t.
Aren’t.

Say it the American way!
It doesn’t matter which way you say it, but make sure it has just one syllable.
And sometimes we don’t pronounce the ‘t’.
Yeah. When we’re speaking casually we both put a stop on the t, so it ends abruptly. Aren’.
Aren’ – We aren’ finished yet.
That’s right. We aren’. Here’s the next word

Crisps. Crisps. Crisps.
Crisps.
Crisps.

These are crisps. The tricky thing here is the ‘sps’ at the end – sps. Try it. sps. sps.

Crisps
Crisps

But we don’t call these crisps in America. We call them potato chips. Say chips.
No chips are different. We have fish and chips.
They’re French fries.
OK, last word. This one’s very tricky.

Thoroughly. Thoroughly. Thoroughly.
Thoroughly. No, I don’t know.
Thoroughly. Je sais pa.

It’s very hard. It’s got a th sound and then an ^ vowel and then an r and an l sound.

Thoroughly.
Thoroughly.
Thoroughly.
Thoroughly.

Let’s back chain it. Say it with me. ly–oroughly-thoroughly. ly–oroughly-thoroughly. Could you say it?
And that’s it. We want to say a big thank you to our English learners: Remi, Fenando and Hugo.
They were such great sports.
Now let us know in the comments below what words you find hard to pronounce in English and perhaps we’ll make another video about them.
Or send us a video an we’ll see if you’re saying a word correctly.
See you all next week! Bye. Bye-bye.

Watch more videos on difficult words to pronounce:

Here’s one on ten more words that are hard to pronounce.

And here’s one on some English tongue twisters.

Pronunciation really matters, of course, but so does grammar and vocabulary.