Learn English vocabulary (and focus on pronunciation) studying lots of different words for the parts of a car. Get tips on how to say tricky words like ‘rear view mirror’!
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See the video on ordinal numbers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3dLxhIkv6c
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You love building your vocabulary, great! Today we’re going to go over a bunch of words relating to the car.
This is a vocabulary builder video. You’re going to learn the English word for lots of things in the car, and you’re also going to learn the pronunciation. You’ll see the phonetic symbol on screen for each word, practice the words out loud with me. If there’s anything unusual or especially difficult about the pronunciation, we’ll talk about it.
Let’s get started.
Steering wheel. Steering is two syllables, the ING ending is always unstressed. It has an R in it which can be a tricky sound. Make sure you can hold it out, sterrrrrring. If you can’t steering, flap, flap, then you’re making it with the wrong part of the tongue. Steering wheel. WH words like ‘wheel’ can be pronounced hw or just w, I think it’s easier just to use the W sound. Wheel. Steering wheel. Say that with me. Steering wheel, steering wheel.
Gear shift. Gear shift, eer. That’s the same combination as ‘steer’. Gear shift. Say that with me. Gear shift, gear shift.
Park. Park. AH vowel plus R. Lots of my students say something like ‘park’, without dropping the jaw. Do drop your jaw. Get a clear AH vowel before the R. Park. Say that with me, park, park.
Reverse. Two syllables, and the first syllable is really short. Re, re, reverse. Say that with me. Reverse, reverse.
Neutral. Many Americans make the TR cluster sounds like CHR. Neutral. Try that with me. Neutral, neutral.
Drive. Some people, especially Japanese speakers, have a problem with R and L. Remember it’s not dlive, with the tongue tip forward, but drive, with the tongue tip pulled back a little, so it’s not touching anything. Try that with me, drive, drive.
Emergency brake or parking brake. Emergency break, or parking break. Emergency. Stress is on that second syllable. Try that with me. Emergency, emergency brake. Parking break. Remember the ING ending is unstressed. Parking brake. Say that with me, parking brake, parking brake.
Dashboard. Stress on the first syllable. DASH-board. Try that with me. Dashboard, dashboard.
Rearview mirror. Two words with two R sounds! This is so hard! REAR and MIR- have the same sound combination except for the first consonant. EER. The tongue tip is forward, touching the back of the bottom front teeth, and then it just lifts and pulls back a bit so it’s not touching anything. Rearview mirror. Mirror. Re-emphasize the R for the second syllable. Mirror. Let’s try the whole thing together, slowed down. Say it out loud with me. Rearview mirror. Again. Rearview mirror. And now at regular pace, rearview mirror.
Visor. Even though the letter O is in the second syllable, don’t try to make a vowel. VIZ-er. Visor. Try that with me. Visor, visor.
Headrest. Compound words like this have stress on the first word. HEAD Ð rest. Headrest. Try that with me, headrest, headrest.
Console. This word ends with a Dark L. Ðsol. Tongue tip stays down, and the back of the tongue pushes down and back a little bit. Uhl, uhl, console. Try that with me, console, console.
Seatbelt. Another compound word, stress on the first word. Notice I’m making both T’s Stop t’s. Seat-belt. I’m not releasing them like a, tt, True T. Seatbelt. Try that with me, seatbelt, seatbelt.
Hazards. Even though you see the letter A for the second syllable, HAZ-rds. Just R, D, S. Rds, rds. Hazards. Try that with me, hazards, hazards.
The driver’s seat, passenger’s seat, and back seat. Notice that we have the apostrophe S, but you can’t really hear it because the next word begins with an S. The two S’s blend together into one sound to link the words.
Try those with me: driver’s seat, passenger’s seat. Back seat. We have a couple of interesting ways that we use this term in English. A backseat driver is one who gives too much input on driving when they’re not driving. It can also mean a role of less importance, and we often use it in the negative. I won’t take a backseat to him. That means, I won’t let him or his ideas be more important or prominent than mine.
Yelling shotgun: yelling or calling shotgun. I don’t know how this phrase got started. But you say it when you want to sit in the front seat of the car. Shotgun, with a Stop T. Say that with me, shotgun, shotgun.
Floor mat. Floor mat, floor. Phonetically this would be written with the AW as in LAW vowel, but before R, this vowel is much more closed. The lips round more, and the back of the tongue pulls back more. Floo, oo, floor. Floor mat. Say that with me, floor mat, floor mat.
Gas pedal. Ga, aa, with the AA vowel. Gas. Gas pedal. Try that with me, gas pedal, gas pedal.
Brake. This is a homophone and it is pronounced just like this other word, break. Say that with me, brake, brake.
Side mirror. Side mirror. Ok, we have that tricky word ‘mirror’ again. The word before it, ‘side’, ends in a D. Just make a little sound with the vocal cords, side, dd, dd, before the next word. You don’t need to release the D, dd. Side mirror. Say that with tme. Side mirror. Side mirror.
Car seat. Car seat. Just like ‘park’, you need to drop your jaw and get a good AH vowel before the R. Car, car. Car seat. Say that with me. Car seat, car seat.
Trunk. Remember, the TR cluster can be pronounced CHR. Trunk or chrunk. Try that with me. Trunk, trunk. This is the same word that’s used for the trunk of a tree.
License plate. Both the letter C and the letter S make the S sound here. License. License plate. Say that with me, license plate, license plate.
Tires. Remember for the R, the tip of the tongue is pulled back and up. Rrr, Tire. Tires. Try that with me. Tires, tires.
Antenna. Stress on the middle syllable. Antenna. Try that with me. Antenna, antenna.
Gas tank. Both of these words are written phonetically with the AA vowel. But when this vowel is followed by the NG sound, it’s not really an AA vowel. It’s more like AY. Gaaas tank. Gas tank. Try that with me, gas tank, gas tank.
Windshield wiper. It’s common to drop the D between two other consonants, and we definitely do that here. Windshield. Winnnnshield. No D sound. Windshield wiper. Try that with me. Windshield wiper, windshield wiper.
Hood. Double O making the UH sound like in ‘look’, ‘cook’, and ‘foot’. Hood. Say that with me, hood, hood.
Headlights. Compound words, stress on the first word. HEAD lights. Headlights. Say that with me, headlights, headlights.
Engine. Stress on the first syllable. The second syllable should be said very quickly. Gin, gin, gin. Engine. Say that with me, engine, engine.
Manual vs. Automatic. Look, in both of these words, the stressed syllable has the AA vowel. But the AA vowel isn’t pure before a nasal consonant. Here, before the N, it relaxes into UH. MAN. Man. Manual. Try that with me. Manual, manual. Automatic has a pure AA. Maa. Notice both of these T’s are Flap t’s, flap, flap. Not True t’s. Automatic. Say that with me, automatic, automatic.
Another common word for manual in the US is stick shift. Try that with me. Stick shift, stick shift.
Clutch. This word is also used idiomatically. I go over it in a podcast I did on SLANG recently. Click here to check it out. I’ll also put a link in the description. Clutch. Try that with me, clutch, clutch.
Horn. Just like ‘floor’ in ‘floormat’, we have AW followed by R, The AW is a little more closed. Horn, horn. Try that with me, horn. Horn.
Airbag. Another compound word. So stress is on the first word. Airbag. Drop your jaw before that R. Airbag, airbag. Try that with me. Airbag, airbag.
First, second, third, fourth, fifth gears. These are all called ‘ordinal numbers’, different from one, two three, four. I know they can be tricky to pronounce. I made a whole video on it. Click here or in the description. Practice them with me. First, second, third, fourth, fifth.
Air vents. Compound word even though there’s a space, stress on the first word. Air vents. Air vents. Try that with me, air vents, air vents.
Climate control. Even though this second syllable looks like it might be what some people call a long A, mate, it’s not. It’s really short, mit, mit, climate. Climate control. Try that with me, climate control, climate control.
Radio. Three syllables, stress on the first one. Radio. Try that with me. Radio, radio.
Odometer, speedometer. For both of these, the stress is on the syllable just before the suffix ‘meter’. Odometer, speedometer. Notice the T’s here are flaps. Try them with me. Odometer, speedometer.
Grill. Dark L, grill. Keep the tongue tip down and pull the back part of the tongue back a bit, uhl, uhl. Grill. I didn’t mention it, but the part under the grill is the bumper. My bumper really helps out when I’m parallel parking. Bumper. Say that with me, bumper, bumper.
Gas gauge. The word ‘gauge’ is funny because the first G is pronounce GG and the second G is pronounced JJ. Gauge. Gas gauge. Try that with me, gas gauge, gas gauge.
Cruise control. You know, when we went over climate control, I didn’t really talk about control, did I? Keep the first syllable really short. Don’t even try to put a vowel in there. Con, con, control. Control. Cruise control. Try that with me, cruise control, cruise control.
Glove compartment. Two Stop T’s in ‘compartment’.
Whew, that’s a lot of terms. If some of these words are tricky for you, slow them down and practice them lots of times in a row. They will get more comfortable. If you liked this vocabulary video, see my other vocabulary builder videos here. I’ll also link to that playlist in the description.
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