Vanessa: Hi, I'm Vanessa from SpeakEnglishWithVanessa.com. Are you ready to pronounce 106 difficult words
in English? Let's do it. Last month I asked you in the community tab on my YouTube channel,
which words are the most difficult for you to pronounce in English? And wow, did you
give a lot of responses. I got over 450 comments about difficult words, but do you know what?
A lot of those words were the same. It's quite interesting that no matter what
your native language is, no matter what background you come from, some of the same words are
difficult in English. I challenge you today to shadow my voice. This means that I want
you to repeat directly after I speak. I'm going to say each of these words two times.
The first time I want you to listen to my pronunciation, and the second time I want
you to speak out loud and try to use your pronunciation muscles and imitate me.
When I was making this lesson, I thought, "Oh my goodness, there are so many words.
How can I make this more digestible?" Digestible means easily understood, easily learned. So
I've grouped these words into different categories. And this is my goal for you, I want you to
find the words that are the most difficult for you and study that category. So maybe
it's the short /i/ sound. Spanish speakers, I'm looking at you. Or maybe it's the /r/
and /l/ sound, East and Southeast Asian speakers I'm looking at you. Or maybe it's just words
like eaten, button, forgotten. Go back and review those words that are the
most difficult for you. You don't need to review all 106 words because probably not
all of them are going to be difficult for you. But I want you to find the category that's
the most challenging for you and after this lesson, go back and review those.
All right, with that said, are you ready to get started? The first category are words
that sound exactly the same. Some of you asked me, how do I pronounce this and this word,
and I thought, "Well, they're pronounced the same. Why is that hard?" But maybe you didn't
know that they're pronounced exactly the same. So I'm going to say these words and I want
you to repeat with me. Are you ready? Aunt, ant. Aunt, ant. The first one is the
person who is related to you, and the second one is the little insect. Some people say
for that first word, for the person who's related to you, some people say aunt, but
it's more common to call her your aunt. Buy, bye. Buy, bye. You buy something at the
store and you say goodbye, bye. Clothes, close. Clothes, close. You might see some tutorials
on YouTube where they say you should use a /th/ sound there. Clothes with a little /th/
in there. You can say that, but when native speakers are speaking quickly, we just these
two words the same. Close the door, I'm putting on some clothes. Clothes, close.
Hare, hair. Hare is a way to say rabbit. It's a type of rabbit. Hare, hair. Hear, here.
Hear, here. Meet, meat. Meet, meat. It's nice to meet you. Do you want to eat some meat?
There, their, they're. They're over there with their friends. There, a lot of native
speakers have difficulties writing these words correctly. There's a lot of common typos where
people use one type of their instead of the other, but these are all pronounced the same.
There, their, they're. Traitor, trader. One word has a T, why does
it sound like a D? In American English, when there's a T between two vowels, we often change
that T into a /d/ sound. So if you say something against your friends, they might say, "Oh,
you're a traitor." Even though this word has a T, sounds like a D. Traitor, trader.
Two, too, to. Two, too, to. Were, we're. Were, we're. The contraction we are can be pronounced
in two different ways. We are or in the lazy, relaxed way we're, and that's the same as
the verb were. We were tired. Were. If you'd like to check out how to pronounce 81 contractions,
make sure you check out my lesson up here because contractions can be tricky to pronounce.
You might pronounce them we are or we're. Let's quickly also add the word where. We
can say these three words together. Were, we're, where. Do you see how my mouth opens
more for that final word? Where. Your, you're. Your, you're. Or we could pronounce
both of these words in a different way, but they're the still the same as each other.
Your, you're. Your, you're. Sometimes it sounds like an /er/ sound, your,
and sometimes it sounds like your, it just depends on if you're speaking quickly and
which one you want to use. Your, you're. The next section is highly requested and it
includes words with a /th/ at the beginning. Through, threw. These two words sound the
same as each other. Let's practice this /th/. Make sure your tongue is coming out of your
mouth and there is a stream of air. Through, through. /Th/.
If you put a piece of paper in front of your mouth, you should see that paper moving. Through,
through. Let's add a word to that. Throughout, throughout. Throughout. But what about this
word? Thorough. Thorough. The first section sounds like the. Like an E, the, the, and
then the final part is going to sound like thorough. O W, thorough. Thorough. Thorough.
Thought. Thought. Think. Think. Make sure for all of these your tongue is coming out
of your mouth. Think. Thought. And there's a stream of air. Think. Thought. Three. Tree.
Three. Tree. For the second word, we're not using a /th/ sound. It's just TR. It's the
green plant that grows, tree. Let's say both of those words. Three. Tree. I see three trees.
I see three trees. That T H R is really tricky. For these next two words we need to use a
different /th/ pronunciation. There are two /th/ pronunciations. One of them we just practiced.
It's what I'm going to call an aired TH because air is coming out. Three, three, but when
we say these words, though, though there is a vibration happening. Your tongue is still
in that same position, but there's going to be vibration that's happening. Though, though.
You're going to feel your lips vibrating, maybe your throat as well. Though. And the
final part sounds like O W, though. And we can add a letter to the beginning, although,
although. If you'd like to practice more TH words, I
made a tongue twister video that includes a lot of /th/ sounds and it's a great fun
practice. If you want to practice /th/ and also have a good laugh, you can check out
this video up here. The next section include words with a short
/a/, and a short /e/. These are called minimal pairs. We'll be working on minimal pairs in
this section and also the next section. It means that everything else in the word is
the same except for one thing. The first pair is man, men. Man, men. Do you see when I say
the /a/, man, man, my lips are kind of wide here, man. And when I say men, men, my tongue
is coming out a little bit. My tongue is flat. Men, men.
Sand, send. Sand, my lips are wide again. Sand, send. Sand, send. Tan, ten. Tan, ten.
Let's say these words in columns. Let's say all of the /a/ words together and all of the
/e/ words together. Man. Sand. Tan. One more time, man, sand, tan. Do you see how my lips
look the same for all of these three words? Let's go onto the short /e/ words. Men, send,
ten. Men, send, ten. If you have difficulties with the short /a/
and the short /e/, this is what I recommend doing. Finding those minimal pairs like we
practiced and saying them together and then trying to say all of the words that are the
same. This is going to train your muscles to say that same sound again and again. And
then when you feel comfortable with it, you can mix them together. Man, men. Sand, send.
Tan, ten. When you say them together like that's a little bit tricky. So saying them
all of those same sounds together, that's going to be a great way to practice kind of
initiate yourself into those sounds. The next section includes words that are also
minimal pairs. They include words with the short /i/, long /e/ and short /e/. Some of
these words include swear words, so if you're watching this with your kids, just be aware.
Bit, beat, bet. Here we have a short /i/, bi, /i/, /i/. Your
mouth is kind of raising into your nose here. Bi, bit, bit. I know that the short /i/ sound
is really tricky for Spanish speakers, so focus on this. Bit. Beat. Beat. Your lip should
be wide here, beat. And then when we say the short /e/, bet. Bet, /e/, /e/, this is like
men, send, ten, bet, your tongue is flat. Did, deed, dead, /d/ /i/ /i/. We have a short
I. If the short I is tough for you, try to say that sound by itself, /i/ /i/ did. Deed,
the long E. Deed. And then the short E, dead, /e/ /e/ dead.
Sick. Sick. Seek. Seek. Six /i/ /i/ six. Sex. Make sure that when you say the short /i/
sound it is si /i/ /i/. Your lips are raising here towards your nose. /Si/ six, six. And
when you use the short E, your tongue is flat. Se-e sex. You don't want to mix these two
up. Bi-i bitch. You don't want to mix these two
up either. Beach, beach. Make sure that when you say the word beach, it's the place that
you go on vacation, your lips are wide. Beach, beach. Shit, /i/ /i/ shit. Sheet, sheet. If
you need to exaggerate these sounds, if this sound is tough for you, it's okay to exaggerate
them. I'm going to the beach. I need a new sheet. You can make sure that your lips are
in the right place. If you say that vowel a little bit longer than is necessary, especially
if this worries you that you're saying the bad word instead of the word that you mean
to say you can always elongate it a little bit.
Let's do the same thing we did before. We're going to read down the columns so that you
can practice those sounds again and again. Bit, did, sick, six, bitch, shit. Beat, Deed,
seek, beach, sheet. Bet, dead, sex. The next category includes words that have
a stop T in the middle. A stop T is when your tongue stops at the top of your mouth. It's
going to make that T sound but it doesn't let any air follow through. Let's look at
a quick sample word. Eat. Eat. When I said it the first time, did you hear that T? Eat.
Eat. No, because I'm using a stop T. My tongue is stop at the top of my mouth, eat, and I
don't let that air follow through. Eat. So let's add this stop T in the middle of
these words. It kind of sounds a little bit strange if you don't know what's going on.
But now that you know there's a stop T, I hope that it will help you. Important. Important.
Here we have a tricky word to start off with because we have a stop T in the middle and
also at the end. So those two T's, your tongue's going to be in that position, but you're not
going to let any air follow through. Important. Important. Eaten. Eaten.
Do you see here how my tongue is stopped in the middle of this word? Have you eaten yet?
Eaten yet. Eaten. Threaten. Threaten. My tongue is stopped at the top of my mouth. I didn't
say threaten. Of course, you can say all of these words with all of the sounds if you
want. But if you want to sound the most natural, this is how you're going to say it. Threaten.
Threaten. Written. Written. Button. Button. Do you hear button? Nope. Just button. Forgotten.
Forgotten. Definitely. Definitely. We're stopping at that /t/ sound. Definitely.
The next category include words where the T changes to a D. This is a typical concept
in American English, so if you'd like to practice this a little bit along with other concepts
that are typical to speaking like an American, you can check out this video that I made up
here. The first word is literally, literally. It sounds like lid. Something that you put
on a container. It's a lid. Literally, literally.
Little. Little. Little. Water. Water. Automatic. Automatic. This word has two T's that change
to D's. Auto, auto, matic, matic. Don't be afraid to use a really clear /d/ sound here.
Automatic, automatic. The next category includes words that have
an RL. These words were also highly requested and I understand why they're so tricky. They're
just weird and tough. So let's practice. Girl. Girl. In American English, we're going to
insert a /u/ sound, this is called the schwa sound, after the R. Girl. Do you hear /rl/
/rl/ there? Girl, girl, girl. That's going to be the same for all of these words. World.
World. It kind of sounds like W-O-R-U-L-D. World. World. Squirrel. Squirrel.
This word actually does have an E there. So you can visually see that sound. Squirrel.
Squirrel. And then we have another word that has an R L but we're not going to include
that U. Early. Early. Make sure that you have /r/ and then you just simply add L Y at the
end, early. Early. Early. Early. The next category include words with an /r/ and an
/l/ sound. Garden. Golden. Did you see when I say that second word, my tongue is coming
out of my mouth? Listen again. Garden. Golden. Garden.
To say the R, you need to pretend like you're an angry dog, /r/ /r/ garden. Gol, there's
my tongue. Golden. Arrive. Alive. Arrive. Alive. Grammar, glamour. Grammar, glamour.
Maybe you want to study a grammar lesson and you don't want to study a glamour lesson.
The next category are words that include a silent letter, receipt, receipt. Which word
is missing here? The P. Receipt. Receipt. After you make a purchase, usually the cashier
will give you a receipt. Awkward, awkward. The first W is silent. So make sure that you
say the A and the K together. Awkward. Awkward. This word is kind of awkward, isn't it?
Difference. Different. Difference. Different. Which letter is silent here? It's the E. Difference.
Just simply cut out that middle /e/ sound. Difference. Different. Difference, different.
The next category doesn't really fit into any other sections, so it's just the other
category. These words are pretty tricky, so take a deep breath and let's practice them.
Warm. Warn. Worm. Warm. Warn. Worm. The first two words have an /or/ sound. Warm, warn.
And the final word sounds like an ER, worm. There's a worm on the ground. I need to warn
you that on a warm day there are some worms on the ground.
Work, walk. Work, walk. Do you notice the first word sounds like an ER? Work, work.
And the second word, walk. Your mouth is more open for walk. And the L is silent. Walk.
Walk. I walk to work. Say that with me. I walk to work.
Done, dawn, down. Done, dawn, down. Done, I'm finished. I'm done. Dawn. Dawn, in the
morning the dawn arises. Down. Down. Make sure that you slide into that /w/ sound. Down.
Down. Look down. Hurt. Hearth. Hard. Hurt, this word also sounds
like E R, hurt. Hurt. She hurt her arm, hurt. Hearth. Hearth. This is a place in your house.
Hearth. Notice my mouth is open. Hearth. Hard, an important sound here is that /r/. Hard.
Hard. Brick. Break. Brick, break. If the short /i/ sound is hard for you, practice this one.
Brick, break. Notice how my mouth goes up for brick, the short /i/ sound and is wide,
break, when I say the long /e/, break. Than. Then. Than. Then. I want to tell you something
though, sometimes when native speakers are speaking quickly, the word than sounds like
then. Let me give you a quick example. He's faster than me. He's faster than me. The word
here is than with an a, but when you say that quickly, it sounds like T-H-E-N. He's faster
than me, than me. So you might hear native speakers say this,
and you're welcome to say this too as long as you're speaking quickly. He's faster than
me, than me. But make sure that you write this correctly. T-H-A-N. He's faster than
me or he's faster than me. Quit, quite, quiet. Quit. It's a short I,
quit, it. Quit. Quite. Quite is a long I. Quite. Quiet, we need two vowels in that final
word. Quiet. And we can see both of them. The I and the E, so that makes it a little
bit more simple. Quiet. Outer. Order. Outer. Order. Notice the first word has a T, but
we've changed it to be a D sound. And those vowels need to be correct. Outer. Sounds like
O W. Outer, order. Go to outer space, that's an order. Go to outer space. That's an order.
Make sure that R is correct, order. Bear, bare, beer. Bear, this is the animal.
Bare, means no clothes. Beer is the drink. Bear, bare, those first two words are pronounced
the same. The bear was bare. The bear didn't have any clothes on. The bear was bare and
he was drinking beer. Beer. It's a long E. Beer.
Bus, boss. Bus, boss. We have a short /u/ here, bus. Ride the bus with my boss. There
needs to be an /O/ sound. Ride the bus with my boss.
Hall, haul, howl, hull. There's a lot here. Hall, it's a place in your house. The long
corridor. It's a hall. And I'm hauling something, means I'm pulling or dragging something heavy.
I'm hauling something down the hall. But then I heard a howl, howl. I think it came from
the hull of a ship. That's the bottom of a ship. Hull. This is a short U like bus, hull,
hull. And finally one of the most requested words
was entrepreneur. Entrepreneur. Let's break this long word down. En-tre-pre-neur. En-tre-pre-neur.
Entrepreneur. Entrepreneur. Entrepreneur, entrepreneur, entrepreneur, entrepreneur.
I'm an entrepreneur. I have my own business. I'm an entrepreneur. You've made it. Congratulations.
Before you go, let's practice a challenge sentence. The girl was quiet throughout the
bus ride then she arrived at the beach. Let's take a look at this sentence. The girl was
quiet throughout the bus ride then she arrived at the beach. Can you say this sentence with
me? The girl was quiet throughout the bus ride then she arrived at the beach.
And now I have a question for you. Which one of these words was the most difficult for
you? If you'd like to practice words like probably, comfortable, library, difficult
numbers like 13, 30, 14, 40, I made another video called 33 most difficult words to pronounce
that was one of the first in this series. And you can check out that video up here to
pronounce some of those other words. Thanks so much for learning English with me
and I'll see you again next Friday for a new lesson here on my YouTube channel, bye. The
next step is to download my free e-book, five steps to becoming a confident English speaker.
You'll learn what you need to do to speak confidently and fluently. Don't forget to
subscribe to my YouTube channel for more free lessons. Thanks so much. Bye.