Pronouncing Common Greetings

There are some very common phrases that we use all the time, but how do you know that you are saying them correctly? Here are some tips on some common greetings that we use everyday.

The first one is ‘thank you’. Now, the difficulty here is the sound, ‘th’. It can’t be replaced with a ‘t’, or it would sound like ‘tank you’. It can’t be replaced by an ‘s’ either or else it would sound like ‘sank you’. It also can’t be replaced by an ‘f’, otherwise it would sound like ‘fank you’. ‘Th’ is a difficult sound, but you’ll get really good at it if you put your tongue between your teeth and blow air out and do this many times a day so that you can get used to the movement.

An intonation tip here is to put a smile in your voice. What do I mean by that? I mean, that when you say ‘thank you’ to someone, you appreciate them. If you think about smiling while you are saying the greeting, your intonation will come out very nicely and very friendly.

Let’s say someone says ‘thank you’ to you. Your response would be ‘you’re welcome’, or ‘you’re very welcome’. The pitfall in this phrase are the ‘r’ sounds in ‘you’re’, which is a contraction for ‘you are’. If you want to say ‘you are’, you can, but you’ve got to pronounce the ‘r’ the right way. To pronounce ‘r’, curl your tongue tip back.

Next, there’s the difference between the ‘w’ in the word ‘welcome’ and the ‘v’in ‘very’. In some dialects such as South Asian, people don’t always make this distinction between the ‘v’ and ‘w’, but in English, these are two very different sounds, and as you can see from my mouth, they have very different movements. In English, when there’s a letter ‘v’, you would say very. Bite your lower lip, and blow air out. For the ‘w’, you round your lips. Try it!

One more tip. The sound ‘l’. Some people particularly people who speak Mandarin or Cantonese have difficulty with the sound l’’, particularly in the middle of the word and the end of the word. Here’s a little trick. For the sound ‘l’ in these two positions, put your tongue forward a little bit.

That’s the entire phrase, “You’re very welcome.” Practice it, and when you want to say that to someone to show your appreciation, you’ll be perfect.

One more, how are you? We use that all the time when we talk on the phone, or in person. Now, here’s a little culture tip on that phrase. When you enter that question or when you ask it, always reply with a short, single sentence. That sentence could be ‘I’m fine, thanks’ or ‘not bad’, or ‘I’m better now I had the flu’. Generally, people want to hear something positive and they really don’t want to know all the different details of how you are.

The question ‘how are you’ and the answer, ‘I’m fine thanks, how are you?’ are really just two people saying hello. Make sure that your answer is short, with a smile in your voice. Try it!

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