YouTube blocked? Click here to see the video.
Are you 100% sure that you’re correctly pronouncing all 50 US States and Capitals?
What’s up YouTube? Thank you for studying with me. You need to know this, this video request came through from Bertha, a student in my online school. Her native language is Spanish and she lives in Alabama. She asked me to make a video that goes over the pronunciation of all of the 50 states in the US and their capitals. Thank You, Bertha, for the question!
We’ll be going through alphabetically and we’ll be talking about anything interesting that happens with pronunciation, like a flap T or a silent letter. We’ll talk a lot about stress. I’ll be going over the standard pronunciation. Keep in mind, pronunciations can vary by region.
We’ll start with Alabama. The capital of Alabama is Montgomery. Alabama, we have four letters A. Two of them are the AH vowel and two are the schwa. Al-a-bam-a. Most stress on the third syllable. Alabama. The capital is Montgomery. You may hear this as four syllables. Montgom-e-ry. Montgomery. But it’s more common to pronounce it: Mont-gom-ery, just three syllables. Notice, I’m making a stop T. Montgomery. Mont– Mont– Mont– Montgomery. Say that with me. Alabama. Alabama. Montgomery. Montgomery.
Alaska, and the capital Juneau. Alaska, three A’s, two are a schwa, and one is the AH as in Bat vowel. That’s the middle syllable. The stressed syllable, the beginning syllable, the schwa, the ending syllable, the schwa. Alaska. Alaska. The capital is Juneau. First syllable stress. Ju— Juneau, and second syllable, unstressed with the OH as in No diphthong. Juneau. Say that with me. Alaska. Alaska. Juneau. Juneau.
Arizona and the capital, Phoenix. Arizona, four syllable word with stress on the third syllable that has the OH as in No diphthong, and make sure you have jaw drop and then lip rounding to get both parts of that diphthong: Ohh. Arizo— Arizona. Arizona. And we do end in the schwa. Arizona. The capital is Phoenix, two-syllable word, first-syllable stress. Phoenix. Phoenix.
Arkansas and Little Rock. Arkansas, this one is crazy because it looks like R, Kansas. Kansas is also a state name, but it’s not pronounced that way at all. It’s Arkansas, first syllable stress: Ar-kan-sas. And then the last syllable has no S sound at the end. I think of this as the AW as in Law vowel. Arkansas. Though I have seen it written in IPA with the AH as in Father vowel, that doesn’t matter so much. Just know that it is unstressed. Arkansas. Arkansas. The capital of Arkansas is Little Rock. Little has a flap T, and then the schwa L, that can be tricky. Little, little, little. Little Rock. Rock also stressed along with the first syllable, lih— Little Rock. Little Rock. Say these with me. Arkansas. Arkansas. Little Rock. Little Rock.
California, Sacramento. California, a four syllable word with stress on the third syllable, secondary stress on the first syllable. Cal-i-forn-ia. You can think of this second syllable as being either the schwa, or the IH vowel. Just make sure it has a very unstressed feel. Cal-ih-ih-ih-forn-ia. Now, the stressed syllable would be written with the AW as in law vowel. When that is followed by R in the same syllable, it is definitely more closed, it’s not ah but it’s aw, aw, aw, for, for, fornia. California. Make sure you make this a Dark L. The L in California comes at the end of a syllable, not the beginning, so we don’t want: Cal, cal, right from AH into a light L, but we want: Cal, Cal, uhl, uhl, that uhl sound is the dark sound of a Dark L. An L is a dark L when it comes after the vowel or diphthong in a syllable, like it does here. Cal, uhl, uhl, don’t leave that out. Cal– Cal– California.
The capital, Sacramento, also has four syllables, also has third syllable stress. It has the same stress pattern. Sacramento. Now, the T here can be a True T like I’ve just done it, to- to- or it can be dropped, Sacramento, Sacramento. Sometimes, we drop the T when it comes after an N, when it doesn’t start a stressed syllable. Sacramento, or Sacramento. Say these with me. California. California. Sacramento. Sacramento.
Colorado. Denver. Colorado, just like California, and Sacramento. It has four syllables with the third syllable stressed. Here, the L is a light L, it comes at the beginning of the syllable, so you don’t have to worry about the dark sound. Co-lo-ra-do. Colorado. Colorado. The capital is Denver, two-syllable word with first syllable stress. Denver. Denver. Say these with me. Colorado. Colorado. Denver. Denver.
Connecticut, Hartford. Connecticut, four syllable word, this time, stress is on the second syllable. Co-nnec-ticut. Notice the T is a flap T, the first T, that’s because the T comes between two vowel sounds, you’re thinking: wait a second, it comes after the letter C. Well, that letter C is actually silent in this state name. So when we look at the sounds, the T comes between two vowel sounds, that’s a flap T. Co-nnec-riririri. Connecticut. The final T will likely be a Stop T. It might be a flap T if it’s linking into a word that begins with a vowel or diphthong. But in general, this will be a Stop T. Connecticut. Connecticut. The capital of Connecticut is Hartford. This is tricky, it has two R’s, Hart— with a stop T, Hart— ford, ford. And don’t try to put a vowel here in the second syllable, it has the schwa followed by R, those just blend together into one R sound. Fff–rrr–dd— Ford— Ford— Ford— Hartford. Hartford. Say those with me. Connecticut. Connecticut. Hartford. Hartford.
Delaware. Dover. Delaware, three syllable word with first syllable stress. It has the EH as in Bed vowel, and a Dark L. Del— del— dela— Delaware. Ware—ware— ware— Unstressed syllable with the EH vowel. Ware— weh eh eh— ware— ware— Delaware. Delaware. The capital of Delaware is Dover. Two syllable word, first syllable stress. That syllable has the OH diphthong. Make sure you have jaw drop, then lip rounding. Doh— Doh— Dover. Dover. Say those with me. Delaware. Delaware. Dover. Dover.
Florida. This is my home state. I was born here and I lived here for the first 18 years of my life. I pronounce this word with two syllables. Florida. That’s the same pronunciation most of the people I know use, however, you will hear some native speakers put in a really light IH vowel in the middle, making it three syllables. Florida. Flor-ih-da. Or Florida. Florida. Two-syllable word with first syllable stress. Flor-da, Flor-da, just the schwa sound in the second syllable, da-da-da no bigger vowel than that. The vowel in the stressed syllable is the AW as in Law vowel, just like in Califo-oh-ornia. California. When the AW vowel is followed by R in a syllable, that is stressed, the AW vowel will change, it will be more closed. It won’t be: aw, but: oh, oh. Or– flor– Florida, or as some people might say it with three syllables: Florida, Flor-i-da, ih-da, ih-da, Florida.
The capital of Florida is Tallahassee. Four-syllable word, with stress on the third syllable. We do have a dark L in the first syllable. Tal– tall– uhl uhl– Tala– Tallahassee. Tallahassee. Say these with me. Florida. Florida. Tallahassee. Tallahassee.
Georgia and the capital, Atlanta. Georgia, two syllable word with first syllable stress. Just like Florida, it has the AW vowel followed by R. It is more closed, it’s not: AW it’s: uhr, uhr. Georgia. So more lip rounding, tongue a little further back. Geor— Georgia, and a schwa in the second syllable. Georgia. The capital of Georgia is Atlanta. The pronunciation of this capital is interesting. It’s a three syllable word with stress on the middle syllable. It has two T’s, but you might hear it pronounced with no T’s at all. Atlanta. Atlanta. I would pronounce it with a Stop T in the first syllable because it’s followed by another consonant. At— At— Atlanta. Atlanta. The second T can be dropped because it’s followed by an N. Atlanta. Or you can make it a light true T. Atlanta. Atlanta. It ends in a schwa. I will say I have friends and family who live in this city, and none of them pronounce the second T. They all leave it out. Atlanta, is how they say it. Say that with me. Georgia. Georgia. Atlanta. Or Atlanta.
Hawaii. Honolulu. Hawaii. Now, I’m doing a very American English pronunciation of this. People who actually speak Hawaiian would probably be giving it a different pronunciation. But in general, the general population of America would pronounce this as Hawaii. So we have stress on the second syllable, it’s a three-syllable word, a schwa in the first syllable. Huh, huh, huh. Ha-wa-ii. AI diphthong then IH vowel. Hawaii. Hawaii. The capital of Hawaii is Honolulu. Four syllable word, stress on the third syllable. Honolulu. Honolulu. We have a schwa in the second syllable, and the OO vowel, the same exact sounds in the last two syllables. First, it’s stressed Lu–, then it’s unstressed: Lu—. Lu— Lu— Honolulu. Say these with me. Hawaii. Hawaii. Honolulu. Honolulu.
Idaho. Boise. Idaho. Three-syllable word with first syllable stress. That’s the AI diphthong: I-da, then we have the schwa in the second syllable, and an unstressed OH diphthong in the third syllable. Ho— ho— I— da— ho— Idaho. The capital of Idaho is Boise, a two-syllable word with first syllable stress. Boi-se. The letter S here it does make the Z sound. Boise. Say these with me. Idaho. Idaho. Boise. Boise.
Illinois. Springfield. Illinois. My mom and dad both grew up in Illinois, so I’ve spent a lot of time visiting the state, visiting family in this state. Illinois. Notice the S here is silent, that’s just like in Arkansas. The final S was silent there. That is not common, it is very uncommon for a final S to be silent, but we’ve had it twice here in state names. Illinois. Three syllables with stress on the final syllable, that has the OI as in Boy diphthong. Il-li-nois. Illinois. The capital of Illinois is Springfield. Stress on the first syllable. Springfield. We do have a beginning consonant cluster there with three consonants SPR. Spr— Spr— Springfield. Because the P is so light and the release is weak, some people think of that as a B. That works only if you don’t make it a strong and obvious B. It’s probably better to think of it being a very light P. Spring— Springfield. Notice in the last syllable: fie-uhl-uhld— we do have a dark L. The L comes after the vowel in that syllable. That’s a dark L. We don’t want: field— we don’t want to go right from the EE into the L consonant. We want that dark sound: field— field— So even though it’s an unstressed syllable, compared to the first stressed syllable, do still make a dark sound there. Springfield. Eel, eel, eel, eel. Springfield. Say those with me. Illinois. Illinois. Springfield. Springfield.
Indiana. Indianapolis. Indiana. I went to college in Indiana. I love it there. Right in the Midwest. We used to get lots of lake effect snow from the Great Lakes. Four-syllable word, with stress on the third syllable. Indiana. Now, when the AH vowel, which is in the stressed syllable here, is followed by the N consonant, it’s no longer a pure AH vowel. It’s not an, annn, and it doesn’t go right from AH into N. But rather, the tongue relaxes in the back and we get sort of an UH kind of sound between AH and N. Ahhnnn– Indiaaaannn–.
Don’t forget that. Make sure you relax your tongue. We definitely don’t want pure AH and N consonant, that does not sound American. Indiaaaannna. And finally a schwa at the end. Indiana. The capital of Indiana is Indianapolis. Here, the AH vowel in the stressed syllable is not followed by an N, so it is a pure AH. Indiana-polis. This is a six-syllable word, that’s long. Use the stressed syllable as your anchor, and practice it broken up. First, just the unstressed syllables at the beginning, then the stressed syllable, then the other unstressed syllables, like this: India– India– India– na– polis– India-na-polis. With the unstressed syllables, simplify your mouth movements as much as possible. Indianapolis. Indianapolis. Say those with me. Indiana. Indiana. Indianapolis. Indianapolis.
Iowa. Des Moines. Iowa. This can sound like three syllables. I-oh-wah. With a schwa and then W schwa, or it can sound just like two syllables without the middle one: I–wah. Either way, it’s the first syllable that stressed. That’s the AI diphthong. Make sure you have jaw drop for that beginning of that diphthong. I– I– Iowa. Or more commonly, dropping that middle syllable, Iowa, Iowa. The capital of Iowa is Des Moines. In American English it’s pronounced with no s’s. De– De– Des Moines. First syllable is unstressed, it has the schwa, second syllable stressed has the OY as in Boy diphthong. Des Moines. Des Moines. Say those with me. Iowa. Iowa. Des Moines. Des Moines.
Kansas. Topeka. Now, we’re at Kansas. Kansas is a two-syllable word with stress on the first syllable. Now, here we have the AH vowel followed by N. So just like in Indiana, we don’t have a pure AH, AH, followed by N is not pure. We have an UH sound between or the back of the tongue relaxes. Kah– Kah– Kan– and the unstressed syllable, sas– Notice the first S here, it makes a Z sound. Kansas. Kan-zzzas. Kansas. The capital of Kansas is Topeka. Topeka. Three-syllable word with second syllable stress. Both unstressed syllables have the schwa as the vowel. To-pek-a. Topeka. Say those with me. Kansas. Kansas. Topeka. Topeka.
Kentucky. So we do have a schwa in the first syllable there. When the schwa is followed by N, we don’t really think of making a schwa. The N takes over that sound, so you can just think of making the K sound and then the N consonant. Ken– Ken– Kentucky. The capital of Kentucky is Frankfort. Frankfort. The first syllable is stressed and here, we have the AH vowel. Now it’s followed by the NG consonant. The rule is a little different here. It’s still not a pure AH. But instead of being AH followed by UH, it’s more like the AY diphthong, it’s not AH, Fra– Fran– Frankfort. But rather, it’s Frankfort. Fra-ay-ay-ay– Fran– Frankfort. So you can think of that as being the AY diphthong. This is just like the word “thanks” which would be written with the AH vowel plus NG consonant. It’s not thanks, but: thanks, thanks, AY, AY, with the sound that’s more like the AY diphthong. Frank– Frank– Frankfurt. Frankfurt. In the word, I would probably not release the K. Frankfurt. Frankfurt. Frankfurt. It’s a stop consonant. I lift the back of my tongue for the K but I don’t release it, because the next sound is a consonant. Frankfurt. Frankfurt. I’m also making a stop T at the end. Frankfurt. Say these with me. Kentucky. Kentucky. Frankfort. Frankfort.
Louisiana. Baton Rouge. Louisiana. A five-syllable word with stress on the fourth syllable. Louisiana. You could also put some secondary stress on the second syllable. Loui- Louisiana. Here again, we have the AH vowel followed by the N consonant. Not a pure AH. Ah– ah– Louisia– Louisiana. Louisiana. Schwa in the final syllable. Louisiana. The capital of Louisiana is Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge. We stress the first level of Bat– and also Rouge. Baton Rouge. Rouge is a little bit more stressed than the stressed syllable of Bat–. Now, we have T schwa N, Baton– nnn– We’ll make that a stop T that goes right into the schwa N sound. Baton– Baton– You don’t release the T. Baton– Baton– Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge. There aren’t too many words in American English that end with the DZ consonant, but Rouge is one of them. Baton Rouge. Say those with me. Louisiana. Louisiana. Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge.
Maine. Augusta. Maine. How simple, a one-syllable word. This is the first one syllable state name that we’ve had. Maine. M consonant, AY diphthong, N consonant. Maine. The capital of Maine is Augusta. Augusta. Three syllable word with middle syllable stress, and the two unstressed syllables have the schwa vowel. Uh– Augus-ta. Augusta. Augusta. Say those with me. Maine. Maine. Augusta. Augusta.
Maryland. Annapolis. Maryland. A three-syllable state name with stress on the first syllable. Maryland. The two unstressed syllables both have the schwa. Now, the second half of this word looks like it’s the word ‘land’ but that’s not how we pronounce it, we pronounce it: lund, lund, with the schwa. Mary-uh-lund. Maryland. Maryland. The capital of Maryland is Annapolis. Annapolis a four-syllable word with stress on the second syllable. We have two schwas and an IH vowel in the unstressed syllables. Uh-na-polis. Annapolis. Annapolis. Say these with me. Maryland. Maryland. Annapolis. Annapolis.
Massachusetts. Boston. Massachusetts. A very long word as far as letters go, but it’s only four syllables. Ma-ssa-chu-setts. Primary stress on the third syllable. Let’s break it up. Massa— Massa— chu— setts— setts— Massachusetts. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston. Now, the letters here can be confusing. I used to live in Boston and I know a lot of non-native English speakers when they see the letter O, they do something like: oh, but it’s: ah. The first O is the AH as in father vowel: Bo— Boston. Boston. The second syllable is the schwa. And remember, the N takes over the schwa, so you don’t even need to try to make a vowel, just go right from T to N. Ton– ton– ton– Try not to make a vowel at all. Boston. Boston. Say these with me. Massachusetts. Massachusetts. Boston. Boston.
Michigan. Lansing. Michigan. My family vacations in Michigan every year and I absolutely love it. Michigan, a three-syllable word with first syllable stress. We have the IH vowel in the first two syllables, and the schwa in the last syllable. Mich-ih-gan. Michigan. The CH here makes the SH sound: Mish— Michigan. The capital of Michigan is Lansing. Now, the first syllable here is stressed, and we have the AH vowel followed by the N consonant. It’s not: ahh-nn, aahn, but rather it’s: La– uh, uh– it’s that impure AH vowel because it’s followed by a nasal consonant. Lan— Lan— Lansing. Lansing. Say these with me. Michigan. Michigan. Lansing. Lansing.
Minnesota. St. Paul. Minnesota. A four-syllable word with stress on the third syllable. Mi-nne-so-ta. We have a flap T because it comes between two vowel sounds, and it does not start a stressed syllable. Minne-so-ta. Minnesota. The stressed syllable has the OH diphthong, don’t forget to round your lips. Mi-nne-so- Minnesota.
The capital of Minnesota is St. Paul. In the words, St. Paul, it’s the second word, Paul, that’s the most stressed. We do make a stop T in the ‘Saint’ so it’s not: Saint— with that release, but it’s: Saint— Saint— St. Paul. A little lift, a little break between the two words, that symbolizes the Stop T. St. Paul. St. Paul. Notice I’m not really making llll– an L sound at the end, that’s a dark L. St. Paul. Uhl— Uhl— Uhl— A dark L was made with the back of the tongue pressing down and back a little bit, the front of the tongue does not lift for the dark sound of the dark L. And in many cases, we never lift the front of the tongue with a Dark L. I might do it if I was linking into a word that begins with a vowel. St. Paul is the most beautiful city on Earth. St. Paul is— llizz— Then I might lift my tongue tip to make the full dark L, but in many cases, we just make the dark sound, St. Paul, and we never lift the tongue tip. Try that: St. Paul— Make the dark sound with just the back of your tongue. Challenge yourself not to lift your tongue tip even though you see that letter L. Paul. Paul. St. Paul. St. Paul. Say those with me. Minnesota. Minnesota. St. Paul. St. Paul.
Mississippi. Jackson. Mississippi. A four-syllable word with stress on the third syllable. I remember when I learned how to spell this word, that there were sort of a song but went with it: M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I. So many repeated letters there. Mississippi. And the first three syllables all have the same vowel. The IH as in Sit vowel. Mississi— Mississi— Make sure you’re not making that EE, a tighter EE vowel with more tongue lift. It’s a little bit more relaxed than that. Ih– Mih– Mih– ssi– ssi– Mississippi. Mississippi. The capital of Mississippi is Jackson. Two-syllable word with first syllable stress. Jack-son. Jackson. Now, remember we have the schwa N in the second and unstressed syllable. Don’t try to make a vowel there. Just go right from S into N. Son— son— on— Jackson. Say those with me. Mississippi. Mississippi. Jackson. Jackson.
Missouri. Jefferson City. Missouri. Now, just like with Mississippi, this starts with Miss— but actually, the sounds are different. We have the M consonant, the IH vowel, but here, the SS is the Z sound. Missouri. It’s a three syllable word with stress on the middle syllable. Missouri. The vowel in the stressed syllable is the push vowel UH, but it’s followed by R. Missouri. And I find that I make it more of just an R consonant sound. Missour— Missouri. Missouri. So you could go right from the Z into the R sound without trying so hard to make a separate vowel. Missouri. Missouri. The capital of Missouri is Jefferson City. This is a two-word capital, just like St. Paul, and I would again say it’s the last word that has the most stress. So Jefferson, we have some stress there on the stressed syllable of Jefferson. But most of the stress is on the stressed syllable of city, which is the first syllable Jefferson City. Jefferson City. Notice that the T in city is a flap T, that’s because it comes between two vowels, and does not start a stressed syllable. City. City. Jefferson. Jefferson. Notice that the middle syllable is just the schwa R sound. You don’t need to try to make a separate vowel. The R takes over the schwa. Jeff-errrr— just a quick little R sound. Jeff-er-son. Jefferson. Jefferson. See if you can make that word with only a vowel in the stressed syllable, EH. Jefferson. Jefferson. Jefferson City. Say those with me. Missouri. Missouri. Jefferson City. Jefferson City.
Montana. Helena. Montana. Three-syllable word with middle syllable stress, and again, we have an AH vowel followed by a nasal consonant N. So it’s not ahh-nn, ann— but we pronounce it: an—. Montan— Montana. And a schwa in the final unstressed syllable. The capital of Montana is Helena. First syllable stress, the EH as in bed vowel, and then two schwas, Hel— le— na— Helena. Say these with me. Montana. Montana. Helena. Helena.
Nebraska. Lincoln. Nebraska. Three-syllable word with middle syllable stress. We have schwas in the two unstressed syllables. Ne-bras-ka. Nebraska. The capital of Nebraska is Lincoln. You’ll notice the second L is silent. Lincoln. We have first syllable stress, and the N here is the NG sound because it’s followed by K. Lin— So it’s the back of the tongue that lifts to make contact with the roof of the mouth. In this case, the soft palate. Lin-coln. Coln— Lincoln. We have the letter O, but it’s just the schwa in that unstressed second syllable, said very quickly. Coln— Lincoln. Say these with me. Nebraska. Nebraska. Lincoln. Lincoln.
Nevada, or Nevada. Carson City. Nevada. Nevada. Now, this state name is interesting. If you look it up in the dictionary, some dictionaries say it’s the AH as in father vowel, some say AA as in bat, some say both. I went to Youglish.com and listened to lots of people pronouncing this and most people say Nevada with the AH vowel. That’s what I say, but I did a little reading, and I learned that people who live there say AA with the AA as in bat vowel. Nevada. So if you’re visiting there, or if you live there, I have a feeling you’re going to want to use the native pronunciation. Nevada. In both pronunciations, the unstressed syllables are the same. They have the schwas: Ne– Nevada. Nevada. The capital is Carson City. A two-word capital name. We have stress on the first syllable of Carson, and the first syllable of City. City has a Flap T, and the primary stress will be on the stressed syllable of the last word. In this case, Ci— Carson City. Aaahhh— Carson City. Say those with me. Nevada. Nevada. Carson City. Carson City.
New Hampshire. Concord. New Hampshire. Two-word state name, three syllables, and stress is on the middle syllable, the stressed syllable of Hampshire. Now you can definitely make this with a light P, but you don’t have to. You can just say: Hampshire, Hampshire. New Hampshire. No one is probably going to notice that and call you out on it. So to simplify, think about dropping that P. The capital of New Hampshire is Concord. First syllable stress. Now, I’ve written it here with the schwa and the unstressed syllable, and I have noticed most people pronounce it that way. Concord. However, I have noticed a few people will put the AW as in Law vowel, followed by R, still make it unstressed though, that would sound like: Concord, but I would say stick with: Concord. It’s more common. Say those with me. New Hampshire. New Hampshire. Concord. Concord.
New Jersey. Trenton. New Jersey. We’re getting into the new states. We have four: New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and New York. So in all of these cases, it’s the second word that has primary stress, and it’s the stressed syllable of that word. So in this case, it’s Jer—. That is our stressed syllable here. New Jersey. So it’s a three-syllable state name with middle syllable stress. New Jersey. The capital of New Jersey is Trenton. Trenton. This is a little bit tricky. We have a TR consonant cluster that can be pronounced CHR, that’s a common way to pronounce that cluster. Chr– Chr– Trenton. The second T is in the sequence T schwa N, and in this sequence, most native speakers make this a Stop T. Trent-nn. Trent-nn. There, I’m really exaggerating the stop, the break. Trenton. Trenton. There, I’m doing it at a more regular pace. It’s not released. Trenton. Trenton. You’ll hear that but very rarely. And it’s also not dropped. That would be: Trenon. Trenon. But it’s Trenton. Trent— stop the air in your nose: Trent— nn— Trenton. Say those with me. New Jersey. New Jersey. Trenton. Trenton.
New Mexico. Santa Fe. New Mexico. Four syllables with second syllable stress. New Mexico. The capital of New Mexico is Santa Fe. Now, here we have a T after an N. That can either be a light true T: Santa. Santa. Or if you’ll notice the way I pronounced it just there, it can be totally dropped. Santa. Santa Fe. Santa Fe. The first syllable of Santa is stressed, but as always, it’s the second word in a compound word that’s the most stressed. So Fe— will be the most stressed there. Santa Fe. Say those with me. New Mexico. New Mexico. Santa Fe. Santa Fe.
New York. Albany. New York. Two syllable word, second syllable stress. We have the AW as in Law vowel followed by the R consonant. That is not a pure AW vowel, it closes down more, and by that I mean the jaw doesn’t drop as much and the tongue pulls back a little bit more. So it’s not ah, it’s aw, aw, York. New York. The capital of New York is Albany. First syllable stress. AW as in Law, followed by the dark L. Al— Al— Albany. Say these with me. New York. New York. Albany. Albany.
North Carolina. Raleigh. North Carolina. The most stressed syllable is the stressed syllable of Carolina, which is the third syllable of that. The fourth syllable of this state name, North Carolina. This can be tricky. We have AW as in Law, plus R for North. So remember, it’s a little bit more closed than a pure AW. Aw, aw, awrt. North. Unvoiced TH at the end of that. The tongue tip must come through the teeth quickly, lightly before coming back into the mouth for the K sound. North Carolina. North Carolina. The capital of North Carolina is Raleigh, with the AW as in Law vowel. Ra— leigh— Raleigh. Say those with me. North Carolina. North Carolina. Raleigh. Raleigh.
North Dakota. Bismarck. North Dakota. Ko— is the most stressed syllable there, and notice we have a flap T because the T comes between two vowels. North Dakota. North Dakota. The capital of North Dakota is Bismarck. Stress on the first syllable and the letter S there is pronounced as a Z. Bismarck. Say these with me. North Dakota. North Dakota. Bismarck. Bismarck.
Ohio. Columbus. Ohio. The state name has just four letters, but it’s made up of three syllables and they all have a diphthong in it. So the IPA of this state name is really long. Oh— hi— oh— OH diphthong, AI diphthong, OH diphthong and of course, the H. Middle syllable is stressed. Ohio. The capital of Ohio is Columbus. Three syllable word with middle syllable stress. Co-lum-bus. Columbus. Say these with me. Ohio. Ohio. Columbus. Columbus.
Oklahoma. Oklahoma City. Oklahoma. Secondary stress on the first syllable and primary stress on the third syllable. O-kla-ho-ma. Two OH diphthongs in our stressed syllables. Oklahoma. The other two syllables have the schwa. And the capital of Oklahoma is Oklahoma City. City is the most stressed word because it’s the second word, the last word of this compound city name, so Cit— should be your most stressed syllable here. Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City. Flap T in City. Say these with me. Oklahoma. Oklahoma. Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City.
Oregon. Salem. Oregon. Three syllable word with first syllable stress. It’s the AW as in Law, plus R. So it’s: aw, aw, aw, or— Oregon. Oregon. There is a letter O in the unstressed syllable, but it’s certainly not Oregon. It’s gn, gn, gn with the schwa. Oregon. The capital of Oregon is Salem. Two-syllable word with first syllable stress. Salem. Say these with me. Oregon. Oregon. Salem. Salem.
Pennsylvania. Harrisburg. Pennsylvania. Secondary stress on the first syllable and primary on the third. Penn-syl-va-nia. Pennsylvania. AY diphthong in the stressed syllable. If you look the word Pennsylvania up in a dictionary, you might see a different pronunciation. Pennsylvania. That has the ending EE-YA instead of YA. I live in Pennsylvania and I’ve always pronounced it YA at the end, not two syllables, EE-YA. But you might hear that, you might see that. Pennsylvania, or more commonly, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania. The capital of Pennsylvania is Harrisburg. Stress on the first syllable. When the AH vowel is followed by R in the same syllable, it’s not a pure AH. That would be AH, Ha— Harr—, Harr—, but the R changes this vowel. It instead sounds like the EH as in bed vowel. Harr— Harrisburg. Harrisburg. Say these with me. Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania. Harrisburg. Harrisburg.
Rhode Island. Providence. Rhode Island. Compound word, a two-word state name, stress is always on the stressed syllable of the last word. That would be the syllable, Is— Island. Rhode Island. Notice the S in Island is silent. The two words linked together, the D links right into the AI diphthong, dai— dai— Rhode Is— Rhode Island. We have l-a-n-d, land, but it’s not pronounced that way. It does have the schwa. Rhode Island. Land— Land— Rhode Island. The capital of Rhode Island is Providence. Three syllable word with first syllable stress. Pro-vi-dence. Providence. Providence. Say these with me. Rhode Island. Rhode Island. Providence. Providence.
South Carolina. Columbia. We had two North states. Now, we have two South States. Again, tricky because we have that unvoiced TH where the tongue tip must come through the teeth. South Carolina. OW diphthong plus the unvoiced TH, and then the tongue tip goes back into the mouth, and the back of the tongue lifts for the K. South Kk—. South Kk—. South Carolina. Stress is on Li— South Carolina. The capital of South Carolina is Columbia. Very similar to Columbus, the capital of Ohio, but here, Columbia, four syllables, second syllable stress. Make sure it’s a schwa in that first syllable. Co— Co— Columbia. Say these with me. South Carolina. South Carolina. Columbia. Columbia.
South Dakota. Pierre. And now, South Dakota. Dakota with a Flap T because it comes between two vowels. Stress on the middle syllable there. Da-ko-ta. Dakota. South Dakota. The capital of South Dakota is Pierre. A two-syllable word with second syllable stress. Pierre. Pierre. Say these with me. South Dakota. South Dakota. Pierre. Pierre.
Tennessee. Nashville. Tennessee. Secondary stress on the first syllable and primary stress on the last syllable. A schwa in the middle. Tennessee. Tennessee. The capital of Tennessee is Nashville. Two-syllable word with first syllable stress. It has the AA as in bat vowel. Na— Nash— Nashville. Say these with me. Tennessee. Tennessee. Nashville. Nashville.
Texas. Austin. Texas. Two syllable word with first syllable stress. The letter X here makes the KS cluster. Texas. Texas. The capital of Texas is Austin. AW as in law vowel in the first stressed syllable. Austin. Say these with me. Texas. Texas. Austin. Austin.
Utah. Salt Lake City. Utah. JU as in few diphthong, True T, AH as in father vowel. Utah. The T here is an exception to the rule. Usually, a T is a flap T when it comes between two vowel or diphthong sounds, and doesn’t start a stressed syllable. But this T comes between two vowel diphthong sounds, and it doesn’t start a stressed syllable, yet it’s still a true T. Don’t make this one a Flap T. Utah. Utah. Now, we have a three word state capital. Salt Lake City. Just like with all compound words, the main stress is on the stressed syllable of the last word. Cit— City. Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City. Notice I’m making a Stop T in Salt and a Stop K in Lake. I go right into the next word without releasing. It’s not Salt Lake City, but Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City. And city with a Flap T. Say those with me. Utah. Utah. Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City.
Vermont. Montpelier. Vermont. Two-syllable word with second syllable stress. Vermont. And I am making that a Stop T sound. You might also hear it lightly released as a True T. Vermont. The capital of Vermont is Montpelier. Mont-pel-ier. Stress on the second syllable and I’m making that T a Stop T. It’s followed by a consonant. Montpelier. Say these with me. Vermont. Vermont. Montpelier. Montpelier.
Virginia. Richmond. Virginia. Three syllable word with middle syllable stress. Vir-gin-ia. You know, this is the first name of one of my best friends from growing up. She went by the name Ginny. The capital of Virginia is Richmond. Two syllable word with first syllable stress. There’s a letter O in that second syllable, but it’s just the schwa. Try not to even make a vowel: mond— mond— Richmond. Richmond. Say these with me. Virginia. Virginia. Richmond. Richmond.
Washington. Olympia. Washington. First syllable stress. Wa-shing-ton. And there is a True T there in the final syllable. Washington. The final syllable is T schwa N. Usually in the sequence, T schwa N, that T is a Stop T, but this is an exception. In the word Washington, it is a true T. Make sure you don’t try to make a full vowel in that last and unstressed syllable. It’s just the schwa which gets absorbed by the N. Ton– Washington. Washington. The capital of the state of Washington is Olympia. Four syllable word with second syllable stress. O-lym-pi-a. Olympia. Say these with me. Washington. Washington. Olympia. Olympia.
West Virginia. Charleston. West Virginia. We had North States, we had South States, we have one West state. But we don’t have any states that start with East. West Virginia. Now, it’s common to drop the T when it comes between two other consonant sounds and we do that here. I would not say that T. West Virginia. Take the S and link it directly into the V sound. West Vir— West Vir— West Virginia. The capital of West Virginia is Charleston. This name can be tricky. It’s two syllables with first syllable stress, and we have an R consonant followed by the dark L. I know from my students said this is one of the trickiest combinations, like in girl, world, curl, Charl. I think it helps to think of there being almost an extra syllable. Charl— uhl— uhl— with the dark L. So make sure you’re making a dark sound. Charl— Charl— Charleston. Charleston. Say these with me. West Virginia. West Virginia. Charleston. Charleston.
Wisconsin. Madison. Wisconsin. A three syllable word with middle syllable stress. The two unstressed syllables have the IH as in Sit vowel. Wisconsin. Wisconsin. Wisconsin. The capital of Wisconsin is Madison. A three syllable word with first syllable stress. The stressed syllable has the AA as in Bat vowel. Ma— Madison. Madison. Two schwas and the two unstressed syllables. Dison— Dison— Madison. Say these with me. Wisconsin. Wisconsin. Madison. Madison.
Wyoming. Cheyenne. Wyoming. A three syllable word with middle syllable stress. That’s the OH diphthong. Jaw drop, then lip rounding: OH. Wyo— Wyo— Wyoming. Wyoming. The capital of Wyoming is Cheyenne. The CH makes the SH sound. Shy— there’s the AI diphthong in the first unstressed syllable, Cheyenne, and then the EH as in bed vowel, N consonant. Cheyenne. Say these with me. Wyoming. Wyoming. Cheyenne. Cheyenne.
And we can’t forget about the capital of the US, Washington DC. This is a city but it’s not in a state. It’s in something called a district, the District of Columbia. And finally, the capital of the United States Washington DC, it’s a compound word, we have the word Washington and then DC, standing for District of Columbia. With a compound word, stress is always on the last word. And when we talk about a letter instead of a word like D and C, it’s the last letter. So Washington DC. Primary stress is on the last syllable, C. Washington DC. And remember it, just like with the state of Washington, we do have a True T here. It doesn’t follow the rules. Washington DC. Washington DC. Or as it’s often called in the united states, simply DC. DC, with stress on the second syllable.
Goodness gracious! The US certainly has a lot of states. We did it! What other topics do you need to learn in pronunciation? Let me know in the comments below. That’s it and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
Video: *coming soon*