Practice English Speaking&Listening with: How to Pronounce ORDINAL NUMBERS -- American English

Difficulty: 0

In this American English pronunciation video, we're going to over the pronunciation of the

ordinal numbers 1-10: first, second, third, and so on.

I've made a series of videos on How to pronounce Cardinal numbers: 1, 2, 3. In this video we'll

go over ordinal numbers.

First, first. It begins with the F consonant sound, where the bottom lip will come up and

touch here, ff, ff, the bottom of the top front teeth. Then we have the UR vowel. The

UR vowel gives some people trouble because they think there needs to be a vowel sound

before an R consonant. But think of the UR vowel as the vowel version of the R sound.

It's always written in IPA with the R consonant sound coming after it, but it's just one sound,

rrr, fir-. The tongue draws up and back for this, right up at the roof of the mouth, either

touching the roof of the mouth on the sides, or the bottom/insides of the top teeth. So

you want to go straight from the F sound to the R sound: fff-rrr. A good way to test this

is to make sure you're not doing a big jaw drop, that's a sign that you're trying to

put in a different kind of vowel sound, fir-. Then we end with the ST consonant cluster.

So the teeth come together, the tongue tip goes down, sss. A trick here is rather than

raising your tongue tip up for the T, you can leave the tip down, then push the part

of the tongue just behind the tip to the roof of the mouth, to cut off the air. To release

the T, and let the air flow continue, just pull the tongue back down, first, first. Let

the teeth part a little bit for the air to release. First.

The word 'second' begins with the S consonant sound. Then the EH as in BED vowel, so the

jaw has to drop a good bit, se-, se-. The next syllable is unstressed, so it will be

fast. SEH-knd, -knd, -knd. We have the K consonant sound, and the schwa/N sound, so the N takes

over the schwa. You don't need to worry about making it a separate sound, and finally

the D sound. Second, second.

Third. This begins with the unvoiced TH sound, so the tongue tip must come just through the

teeth. Th, th, third. Then we have the UR vowel / R consonant sounds, just like in the

word FIRST. Fiiiiirst, thiiiiiird. So don't let your jaw drop. Then, a light D sound to

finish. Third, dd, third.

And now we're at the point where they all end in an unvoiced TH --- until we get up

to twenty-first. So, fourth begins with the F consonant, just

like 'first', where the bottom lip comes up and lightly touches the bottom of the top front

teeth, ff. You have two options for the vowel sound, either the AW as in LAW, or the OH

as in NO diphthong, which is what I use. At any rate, unlike 'first', where we have the

UR vowel then the R sound, here we do need some jaw drop to make the shape of either

the AW as in LAW vowel, or the OH as in NO sound, before the tongue pulls back and up

for the R consonant sound, fourth. And then, we finish with the unvoiced TH, where the

front part of the tongue comes just out of the teeth, not too far, and air lightly passes

through. Fourth.

Fifth -- we've got a lot of unvoiced consonants in this one. We again start with the F consonant,

fff. Then the IH as in SIT vowel, where we have a little bit of jaw drop, fi-, and the

tongue tip says down while the front part of the tongue stretches up and forward towards

the front part of the roof of the mouth, fi-. Then we have the F and unvoiced TH sounds,

fifth. This can be a little tricky. First, you need to bring the bottom lip up to the

top teeth, ff, then, while you continue to let air out, you drop the lip and let the

tip of the tongue through the teeth. FFTHFFTH. Fifth, fifth. You might sometimes hear a native

speaker simplify this by dropping the F before the TH: 'fith', 'fith'.

Sixth -- again, a lot of unvoiced consonants. We start with the S sound, tongue tip down,

teeth together. SS. Then the IH as in SIT vowel with a little jaw drop. Si-. Now we

have the K, S and TH sounds together. They are all unvoiced, so we're just passing air

through, no engagement of the vocal cords. The K: tongue tip stays where it was for the

IH, lightly touching behind the bottom front teeth. The back part of the tongue reaches

up and touches the soft palate here, the back part of the roof of the mouth, and pulls away.

As it pulls away, the teeth come together, again the tongue tips stays where it is for

the S. Then the tongue tip simply moves up a bit so that it can come just though the

teeth. ksth. ksth. Just practice that on its own, and don't rush it, ksth. Sixth, sixth.

Seventh. Just like 'second', stress in on the first syllable. So the second will shorter,

flatter, and lower in pitch, seventh. We begin with the S consonant sound and EH vowel, just

like 'second', so make sure you're dropping your jaw enough for that EH vowel. Then we

have the V, which looks just like all these F's we've been talking about, only it's voiced,

so the vocal chords are engaged, making a sound. Sev-, seventh. Then we have the schwa/N sound,

And the N takes over the schwa, so you don't need to worry about making it a separate sound,

-ven, -ven, -ven. And finally, the unvoiced TH. Usually, the tongue tip lifts to the roof

of the mouth for the N. But, a shortcut: You can actually bring the tip of the tongue just

through the teeth and press the part just behind it to the roof of the mouth for the

N. So not the tip. That way your tongue doesn't really need to change positions between those

two sounds. Seventh, seventh.

Eighth. -- This one's pretty simple. The AY diphthong and the unvoiced TH. Eighth. The

biggest mistake my students make with the AY diphthong is that they don't drop their

jaw enough for the first sound. Eighth. And of course, the unvoiced TH, where the tongue

tip comes through the teeth. Eighth, eighth.

Ninth. This begins with the N consonant sound. The flat, top part of the tongue is up at

the roof of the mouth. NN. Then we have the AI as in BUY diphthong, again a common issue

is not to drop the jaw enough. So make sure you do, ni-. Then for the second half of the

diphthong, the tongue tip stays down while the front part of the tongue stretches up

towards the front part of the roof of the mouth, ni-, ni-. Then again the N / TH sound

just as in 'seventh'. Ninth, ninth.

Tenth. We start here with a True T sound: ttt. Tongue tip is at the roof of the mouth,

teeth are together, the air is stopped. Then the tongue tip pulls down, the teeth part,

and the air is released. TTeh -- the EH vowel, just as in 'second' and 'seventh', we need

jaw drop, te-, te-. And then again, the NTH ending. Tenth, tenth.

So there you have it, ordinal numbers 1-10. We had a lot of consonant clusters, lots of

ending TH to practice. I hope this helps.

Practice your English. Make up a sentence that includes an ordinal number. Record yourself

saying it, and post it as a video response to this video on YouTube. I can't wait to watch.

That's it, and thanks so much for using Rachel's English!

The Description of How to Pronounce ORDINAL NUMBERS -- American English