Lesson Transcript

This week we're doing a pronunciation roundup, let's go!
Hi, everybody, welcome back to Ask Alisha, the weekly series where you ask me questions and I answer them, maybe!
The first question is from the wrong spreadsheet. Okay, first question this week comes from Danny. Danny says, “How do we say the ‘TH’ sound naturally? Sometimes I can't stick my tongue out too much when speaking or, for example, when I say something in a long sentence quickly.” A couple things to consider.
One, there are two ‘TH’ sounds. There's the “TH” sound, like in “think;” and “this.” Whereas Danny's talking about, your tongue kind of sticks out between your teeth, but it's not such a big motion, actually, so it's not like you have to be really dramatic with how much you stick your tongue out, like “tha.” It's a bit too much.
Maybe when you practice, you can do that to kind of get used to how it feels but when I say that sound, when native speakers make that “TH” sound, we're only sticking our tongue out a tiny bit, a really small bit between our teeth. So, “think.” It's like the tip of the tongue only, so with practice, that sound will get easier.
The other sound, though, with “TH,” is something we hear in a word like, ‘the’, ‘the’, so the tongue is actually, like, just touching the back of my teeth. “The,” or maybe like the back of my teeth and the top of my mouth a little bit, the way that the sound is produced is a little bit different. So, when I say “think” and “the,” there are a little bit different sounds, so keep this in mind. If you're trying to say “the,” don't use the motion to pronounce the word “think.” If I'm saying “the,” “the,” “the” with a really exaggerated “TH” sound like in “think,” it's going to slow me down. So, think about that.
Next question! Next question comes from Maxim. Hi Maxim! Maxim says, “How do you pronounce, ‘I shouldn't have done it,’ ‘I couldn't have done it,’ and ‘I wouldn't have done it,’?” So, here, these are negative past perfect statements. I'm using kind of exaggerated pronunciation here, “I should not have” becomes “shouldn't've,” but a native speaker, a native English speaker, an American English speaker will say “shouldn’t a,” “shouldn't have done it,” “couldn't have done it,” and “wouldn't have done it.” “Wouldn't've” and “couldn't've” have that same “vu” sound, but again, it makes it hard to say all of those sounds clearly in speech if we're focusing a lot on saying those sounds clearly in speech, our speaking slows down, so we say “shouldna,” “couldna,” “wouldna.” “Shouldn't have,” “couldn't have,” and “wouldn't have.” I guess it's sort of the in-between like the medium kind of pronunciation there but when speaking rapidly a very fast like native level speed will say, “shouldna”, “couldna” and “wouldna.” So, give those a try, “shouldna,” “couldna,” “wouldna,” “shouldn’t have,” “couldn’t have,” “wouldn’t have,” “should not have,” “could not have,” “would not have,” “shouldna,” “couldna,” “wouldna.” Hope that helps.
Okay, next follow-up question. Now, follow-up question to this question comes from Sunil. Sunil, hi. Sunil asks, “Can we use “could” for the future?” So, I’m guessing this is talking about future plans, in which case yes you can. When you’re thinking about something you want to do or you’re trying to decide what you might do, you can use “could” just to talk about the possibility of something. We use could to say something is just possible. For example, “I could go to the beach this weekend,” or “I could sleep in late tomorrow if I want to,” or “I could go and visit my parents next week.” So, these are all statements of just simple possibility. We’re not saying, “I’m going to do that,” or, “Maybe I’ll do that.” We’re only saying that it is possible so that’s what we use “could” for. If we’re talking about future plans, yes, we can use “could” for simple possibility.
Next question is another follow-up question. Follow-up question to from Bahar. Hi Bahar. Bahar says, “My question is about ‘can’ and ‘could.’ When I want to use these when asking for something how do I use can and could in the right situation?” When you’re making a request, “can” is going to sound more casual, “could” is going to sound a little more polite. If you’re visiting a friend’s house, you can say, “Can I have something to drink?” or “Could I have something to drink?” “Could” sounds more polite in that case. “Can” is probably a little more natural since they’re your friend. If you are, however, at like someone’s office, you’re visiting a colleague you might instead use, “Could I have something to drink?” or “Could I have a glass of water?” that sounds a little more formal. If you’re worried, just go with “could” it sounds a little more polite. It’s always correct.
And, Bahar has a second question “Are ‘would’ and ‘might’ similar a little bit and do both of them consist of possibility?” Yes and no. “Would” is used to talk about potential situation. So, we’ve talked about on this series before a pattern like, “if I were blah blah blah, I would…” like, “If I were a teacher, I would teach Math,” or “If I were rich, I would buy a house.” So, we use “would” to talk about unreal situations. In terms of like actual possibility, like future plans, we don’t really use “would” in that way. “Might,” however, yes, we do use “might” to talk about possibilities. We use “may” and “might” to talk about something that has a fairly good chance, maybe like a 30% to 50% chance or so of happening like, “I may study later,” or “I might meet up with my friends for dinner tonight.” The difference between “may” and “might” in American English in this usage, in terms of talking about possibility, is that “might” is more casual. “Might” is more often used in daily conversation. “May” sounds a bit formal, “may” sounds like a little bit too polite in most situations. “Might is the one we use. So, “might” refers to possibility. “I might do something,” “He might do something,” “I might not do something as well.” So, in these situations, “might” is used for possibility, yes. So, “would” is used more to talk about potential, potential in an unreal situation.
Next question! The next question comes from Hung Mai Lyn. I hope I pronounced it right. Hung Mai Lyn says, “Hi, how do you pronounce, ‘I’d like’ and ‘I like,’ please. Thank you so much.” Aha! This is a very common question. “I’d like” versus “I like.” Lots of people asked to how do I listen for the difference between these two, “I’d like” and “I like.” I’m trying to pronounce it very clearly right now. “I’d like” and “I like,” of course, there’s a “D” sound but when native speakers speak quickly, the “D” sound kind of disappears. “I’d like to,” “I like to.” My tongue touches the top of my mouth when I make the “D” sound. “I’d like,” I think a better key to help you when you’re listening for this sound, and I think that this is something native speakers unconsciously do, is we listen for the grammar in the entire sentence. We’re not listening specifically for the “I like” or the “I’d like” there. We’re listening to the grammar in the sentence. If, for example, it’s at a restaurant and you say “I’d like a beer, please.” That sentence makes sense meaning “I would like a beer, please.” If we say, “I like a beer, please,” it’s grammatically incorrect. “I like beer,” is correct. “I like beer,” or “I’d like a beer,” “I would like a beer,” those sentences are correct but they communicate different things. So, listen for the grammar in the sentence. If you can listen to the grammar of the sentence, overall, it can help you identify, “Did the speaker say “I like” or “I’d like?” This is a key point I think.
Next question comes from Aya, Aya, Hi Aya! “How do I pronounce words like ‘important,’ ‘written’ and ‘mountain’ in an American accent.” Ah! “Important,” “written,” and “mountain” all have these “T” sounds in the middle of the word but native speakers don’t pronounce the “T” sound clearly like I just did. Instead, we say, “impor’nt,” “wri’n,” “moun’n.” This has like an apostrophe sound, almost. So, “important,” “impor’nt,” we drop the “T” sound or it sounds very soft. So, this is how these three words are pronounced. You might hear this in other words, too. Thanks for the question though.
Next question! Next question comes from Kesavarish? Casavarasch? Sorry. “What is the difference between ‘tonight’ and ‘this night’?” We use “tonight” in everyday conversation. “What are you doing tonight?” “Where are you going tonight?” “Tonight, I want to,” “Tonight, I’m going to blah blah blah.” We only use “this night” for like very formal speeches, for example. “Tonight” is the one that we use in everyday conversation.
Those are all the questions that I want to answer this week. Thank you so much for sending your questions. Remember, you can send them to me at Englishclass101.com/ask-alisha. I’ll check them out there. If you like the video, please make sure to give it a thumbs up, subscribe to the channel and check us out at Englishclass101.com for some other good resources too.
Thanks very much for watching this episode of Ask Alisha and I will see you again next week. Bye-bye!
Hmm! Pronunciation, it’s hard.


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