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Hello Students!

I am going to teach you the correct pronunciation of the number three (3) along with its many other forms such as amounts, positions and telling the time.

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Clear accent lesson: how to pronounce the number three (3)

In today’s lesson, we are going to learn the correct pronunciation of the number three (3) and many of its associated forms.

We start with a variety of ordinal numbers (forms of a number that that tell us an amount) ranging between 3 and 3 billion. Later on, we will also cover cardinal numbers (forms of a number that tell us the position) such as third (3rd) and thirteenth (13th).

We will also look at different uses of the number three when telling the time along with related words that will help you expand your general vocabulary.

Finally, I have some really useful repeat-after-me sentences that contain the vocabulary in this lesson which you can use to practice.

How to make the “th” sound: /θ/

The number three is the most difficult to pronounce and I find that most of my students struggle with the “th” sound. Some of my students pronounce the number “thirty-three” (33) as “dirty tree” which can often be amusing.

Don’t say ‘dirty tree’

Place your tongue lightly on the back of your front teeth. You need to leave a slight gap with your lower teeth; then, as your tongue rests lightly in that gap touching the teeth, you release and blow.

The difficult thing about this sound is it takes time to develop muscle holding your tongue in that place. So, it can feel a bit strange at first. This sound is difficult because it doesn’t exist in that many of the world’s languages

 

Cardinal numbers – how to pronounce numbers three, thirty-three and more…

It’s important to study the following numbers with the number three. You will notice from the IPA in the table below that some of these numbers have a different first syllable. Numbers such as thirty begin with a /θɜː/ “thur” sound, like in the first syllable of “Thursday”.

It is also good to know that the larger numbers; million and billion, are pronounced with just two syllables by native English speakers. The second syllable has a /jən/ sound. In interpreted spelling, this sounds like ‘yen’ to an English native speaker.

Please refer to the video for more information on how to pronounce the following cardinal numbers.

NumberWordPronunciation (IPA)
3three/θriː/
13thirteen/θɜːˈtiːn/
30thirty/ˈθɜː.ti/
33thirty-three/ˌθɜː.ti ˈθriː/
300three hundred/ˈθriː ˈhʌn.drəd/
3000three thousand/ˈθriː ˈθaʊ.zənd/
30,000thirty thousand/ˈθɜː.ti ˈθaʊ.zənd/
300,000three hundred thousand/ˈθriː ˈhʌn.drəd ˈθaʊ.zənd/
3,000,000three million/ˈθriː ˈmɪl.jən/
3,000,000,000three billion/ˈθriː ˈbɪl.jən/

Ordinal numbers – How to pronounce third, thirtieth and more

If you’re in a race, a running race, and you come third, that tells us your position. There were two people before you.

Please refer to the video for more information on how to pronounce the following ordinal numbers.

NumberWordPronunciation (IPA)Notes
3rdthird/θɜːd/Similar to 'word' or 'bird'
13ththirteenth/ˌθɜːˈtiːnθ/thur-teenth
*like turn, burn, surf
30ththirtieth/ˈθɜːti.əθ/thur-tee-əth
33rdthirty-third/ˌθɜː.ti θɜːd/thur-tee-thurd

Telling the time

When telling the time, it is important to know that you do not need to pronounce the “PM”. But if you do, then you simply say the letters P and M.

Please refer to the video for more information on how to pronounce the following ordinal numbers.

TimeWordPronunciation (IPA)
3:00pmthree p.m./θriː ˌpiːˈem/
3:30pmthree-thirty p.m./ˈθriː ˈθɜː.ti piːˈem/

Similar words

Here are some more words that are associated with the number three. These are handy to know and give you more words to use in your vocabulary.

triple (adj)
/ˈtrɪp.əl/
E.g. Please may I have a triple serving of chips.

treble (adv) 
/ˈtreb.əl/
This means 3 times the amount. E.g. We played 3 games of bowling, which is treble the cost of just one game.

trinity (n)
/ˈtrɪn.ə.ti/
E.g. The Holy Trinity from Christianity.

trio (n)
/ˈtri.əʊ/
E.g. A trio of musicians

threesome (n)
/ˈθriːsəm/
E.g. A group of three people is a threesome. *Be careful using this word as it can have a sexual connotation.

Words to do with the number three.

Repeat after me exercises

Practice these sentences to get better at pronouncing the words from this lesson. Please refer to the video to repeat after me.

The event is on the 3rd of April.

I’m not available on Friday the 13th.

I’ll see you at 3.30pm.

We break for lunch at 13.00 hours

The car is worth £3000.

I only ate 1/3 of the pizza.

I’m in my thirties.

I’ll have three free coffees please.

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Thank you for joining me for this lesson. You should now know how to correctly pronounce the number three in many different forms and have more words in your vocabulary. Don’t forget to like the video, comment and subscribe if you haven’t done so already.

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Hello Students!

Today I am going to explore whether there is a standard correct pronunciation of a word and if you need to be concerned about incorrect pronunciations.

 

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Today’s clear accent lesson: Correct pronunciation of words

Today I will be delving into if there is a standard correct pronunciation of a word and whether we should be concerned with mispronunciations.

On the one hand we know there is a standard pronunciation for words because quite simply that is what you will see when you look in a dictionary.

However, on the other hand it may well depend on the dictionary that you are looking in. For example, we know there are differences between American English and British English. Additionally, if you check the same word in the British, Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries, in some cases, you will still find different pronunciations.

You may also find that you and those close around you pronounce words a certain way, only to discover this is not how either dictionary suggests the word should be pronounced. Does that mean it is incorrect?

Does mispronunciation matter?

Well, I believe it depends on the situation you are in and what your needs are regarding English. As a teacher, I do like the notion of there being a standard correct pronunciation of a word. We should strive towards an ideal form of a word.

But who decides on the ideal form? That is a different matter, but let’s say if a few dictionaries agree on the correct pronunciation of a word, nine times out of 10, I’m going to go with what they say. Depending on the situation I may even adapt my own pronunciation, but I don’t advise this for everyone.  I’m just a pronunciation geek!

You may adapt your pronunciation according to the context. So, if you’re in a posh, formal or business situation, you may want to use the ideal form of a word, the dictionary form. But, otherwise, in a relaxed context, where you are just being yourself, you may wish to knowingly pronounce a word in a different way, which is just normal for you in your accent.

What about your accent?

When you consider the variety of different accents, the question of “Is there a correct pronunciation of words?” becomes a bit of a hot potato. People have strong opinions on this because they will say there should not be an ideal form of how a word is pronounced due to the many different accents that exist. The way a person says a word is going to depend on their accent.

While this may be true, I believe there is such a thing as an ideal form of language. Knowing the rules and using the rules is a kind of discipline, so it takes a lot of training to get there. It is a skill and you have to work for it.

So, yes, there is what we can call a standard or correct form and usually that’s a good form for students to pronounce. But if for any other reason, such as you don’t have that accent or you are not interested in the specifics of pronunciation, it doesn’t really matter.

My view is, as a lover of language, reading, words, I like to say words in their ideal form.

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Thank you so much, students. Don’t forget to like the video, comment and subscribe if you haven’t done so already.

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English Jade: Learn Advanced /b/ Spelling and Pronunciation

In this lesson, we will continue to practice the pronunciation and spelling of the /b/ sound in English. We will also learn silent ‘b’ words and consonant blends including ‘b’. Before we begin, here’s a quick summary on how to articulate /b/:

Articulating /b/

  • /b/ is stop consonant: the flow of air is stopped and then released to make a sound
  • the place of articulation is the lips: purse the lips and then release the pressure
  • /b/ is a voiced consonant: the vocal cords vibrate (no puff of air is released like it is for /p/)
  • the /b/ (voiced) and /p/ (voiceless) consonants are usually learnt as a pair
  • /b/ and /p/ are pronounced with the same part of the lips

Practice /b/ Words and Phrases: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording

blonde: blue-eyed blonde

blotchy: blotchy spots and blemishes

brown: the brown broom’s bristles

Practice /p/ Pronunciation

In this lesson, we will learn the pronunciation and spelling of the /p/ sound in English. /p/ is a what’s known as a plosive consonant, which means that this sound is made by blocking the flow of air and then releasing it in a puff of air: /p/ is for puff.

Of all the consonants in English, /p/ is the peskiest because it doesn’t get on well with microphones. If a /p/ sound is made too close to a microphone, the recorded sound pops. When making a /p/ sound, the lips release air with a burst, which causes disruption in the air, and in turn, affects the microphone. Fingers crossed, I can get through this lesson without recording any annoying p-pops!

Here’s what you need to know about making a /p/ sound:

  • /p/ is a plosive consonant: air is stopped and then released
  • the place of articulation is the lips: purse the lips and then release the pressure
  • /p/ is a voiceless consonant: the vocal cords don’t vibrate 
  • the /p/ (voiceless) and /b/ (voiced) consonants are usually learnt as a pair
  • /p/ is a widespread sound that is present in many of the world’s languages
  • There is no /p/ in Arabic, therefore Arabic native speakers often have difficulty articulating this sound, replacing it with /b/.

So far, so good. You may be thinking that learning /p/ is going to be easy. Learning /p/ is easy – but only up to a point.

As you know already, a puff of air is released when making a /p/ sound: /p/ = plosive.

In linguistics, this puff of air is called aspiration. 

Here’s where learning /p/ gets tricky. /p/ is not aspirated equally in all positions of a word. Observe the following examples (bold text shows aspirated /p/):

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

Mom and Pop, may I have some apple pie and whipped cream, pretty please?

You need sensitive ears to hear the difference between aspirated and unaspirated /p/ in the examples. Don’t worry if you can’t hear the difference between the two types of /p/ right now – just keep listening because practice makes perfect. 

The Rules of Aspirating /p/ 

  • Aspirated and unaspirated /p/ sound slightly different, but even so they are still classed as the same consonant
  • /p/ is always aspirated at the beginning of a word: Peter, puff, plosive
  • /p/ is aspirated at the beginning of a stressed syllable: support, approve, apply
  • /p/ is unaspirated in <sp> words: spit, sport, spoon 
  • /p/ is unaspirated in <spr> words: spray, sprint, spring 
  • /p/ is unaspirated at the end of a word (it still sounds like a /p/ but there is no forceful puff of air): cop, map, mop 

What I have just explained is likely to be linguistics overload for most of you. If you want to keep things simple, just don’t exaggerate the /p/ sound at the end of words. For example, don’t say coP, maP, moP.


Practice /p/ Words and Phrases: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording

stop: once you pop, you can’t stop

pretty: pretty as a peach

person: a people person

parent: proud parents

pressure: pile on the pressure