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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: How to Pronounce -est Endings -- American English

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In this American English pronunciation video,

were going to go over words with the -est ending.

As you may have learned in a grammar class, the -est ending is superlative, the most of

something. For example, “That was the funniest movie Ive ever seen!”, orShes

the tallest one on the team.”

Recently someone asked me, How is this ending pronounced? Thanks for your question.

If you look at it on its own, it looks like it might beest’, just like the word

BEST without the B, or WEST without the W, -est.

But thats not how its pronounced. This is always an unstressed syllable, so it wont

be pronounced EST, with a longer vowel and a shape in the voice, EST. But, it will be

pronouncedest, ih, ih, -est. The IH vowel and the ST consonant cluster, lower in pitch,

lower in volume, lower in energy, fast. EST, -est. Lets compare. EST, not correct.

est [4x], correct. Practice that with me, -est [4x].

To make the unstressed IH sound, the tongue tip is forward, lightly touching the back

of the bottom front teeth. The top front part of the tongue lifts a little towards the roof

of the mouth, ih. The jaw drops only a little bit. Ih, ih. The lips are relaxed. Ih, -est,

-est. To make the S, the teeth have to come closer together. The tongue stays forward

and the tip can either point down or up (I keep it pointed down), isssss. To make the

T, bring the tip up to the roof of the mouth, stop the air, and release it, tt, pushing

the air through the teeth. St, st, -est, -est. Lets look at some words with this ending.

Biggest. Biggest. –est, -est, -est. Notice how it sounds likeistand notest”.

Thats what we want, –est, -est, biggest.

Tallest, -est, -est. Tallest.

Funniest, -est, -est. Funniest.

Now that youre comfortable with the ending, were going to throw in something else,

the Flap T. When a T sound comes between two vowel sounds, or after an R and before a vowel

sound, it becomes a Flap T.

Lets take the wordssmartandbrightest’. The final two sounds insmartare R

and T. When we add theest ending, the T comes between the R and a vowel, so its

a Flap T. We dont make it a True T, tt, tt, smartest, smartest, -test, -test. But,

a Flap T: smartest, -test, -test, -test. The Flap T sounds like a D between vowels in American

English, the tongue just bounces once against the roof of the mouth. Depending on your native

language, this might sound like an R to you. Im going to hold out the R before the flap.

Watch how the tongue bounces against the roof of the mouth. Smarrrrrrrrr-test [2x]. Smartest.

The wordbrightends in the AI diphthong and the T. So, when we add theest ending,

the T is between two vowels or in this case, a vowel and a diphthong. Thats a Flap T.

Im going to hold out the AI diphthong. Watch the tongue bounce once against the roof

of the mouth. Briiiiiiiigh-test [2x]. Brightest. Can you see the tongue flap? Brightest.

Lets practice some more words. I want you to practice them first, out loud, before I

say them. Remember to make the ending lower in pitch, lower in volume, down here, -est,

-est, -est.

This first one has a Flap T. Greatest, greatest. -est, -est, -est. Greatest.

Highest, -est, -est, -est. Highest.

Nearest. -est, -est, -est. Nearest.

Earliest. -est, -est, -est. Earliest.

Lowest. -est, -est, -est. Lowest.

Finest. -est, -est, -est. Finest.

Youngest. -est, -est, -est. Youngest. This one is a little different. By itself, the

word isyoung’, with no hard G sound, just the NG sound. Young, younnnggg. But when

we add theest orer ending, we do make a hard G: younger, ggg, -ger, younger, or,

youngest, ggg, -gest. Youngest. This is also true of strongstrongest, ggg, -gest,

and long, longest, -gest, gg, -gest.

Great job everybody. If you only remember one thing from this video, I hope its that

this ending is always unstressed. We want it to be quieter, lower in pitch. Less important!

-est, -est, -est.

Im very excited to tell you that I recently finished my first book. If you liked this

video, theres a lot more to learn about American English pronunciation, and my book

will help you step by step. You can get it by clicking here, or in the description below.

Thats it, and thanks so much for using Rachels English.

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