Numbers are something you’ll use constantly in conversational English, from amounts to times of day. Get more comfortable with the pronunciation of numbers.
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Today I’m going over how to pronounce numbers 1 through 10. Actually no, 0 – 10. To begin, zero. Zero starts with the zz voiced Z sound [z] where the teeth come together: zz. It then opens into the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ vowel sound [i], ze-, so the jaw drops just a little bit and the corners of the lips pull back: ze-, zero. It then has the R consonant sound [ɹ], zer-, so the tongue has to move up into that position, zero. And it ends with the ‘oh’ as in ‘no’ diphthong [oʊ]. Zero. One. One begins with the W consonant sound [w], so the lips form that very tight circle. O-, it then opens into the ‘uh’ as in ‘butter’ vowel sound [ʌ], with that very relaxed drop of the jaw, o-. The tongue then moves up into the N position [n].
One, one. This is pronounced the exact same way as the word won, as in, ‘We won the game’. Two starts with the T sound: tt, tt, where the teeth are together, the tongue is behind them, tt, and pulls back to release air. Two. It then has the ‘oo’ as in ‘boo’ vowel sound [u]. Two. And if you’ll notice, the lips begin to take that position even – tt – before the T sound. Two, two. And this is pronounced the exact same way as the word too, T-O-O, as in, ‘I want to go too’. Or, to, T-O, as in, ‘He is going to the store’, although to be honest, that word is often reduced to: t’. He is going t’ the store.
Three. This begins with the unvoiced TH sound [θ]: th. Make sure your tongue comes through those teeth, it’s the only way to make that sound. Th, th, thr-. It then pulls back into the R position. So your tongue will move from being through the teeth to being further up and back. Thr-. Then the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ vowel sound. Three, three. Four begins with the F sound, so the bottom lip must move up to the top teeth. Four. It then opens into the ‘oh’ as in ‘no’ diphthong, four, before moving into the R consonant sound. Four, four.
Five. This word begins and ends with this, position of the lip coming up and touching the top teeth. It begins with the F sound, ff, and ends with the V sound, vv. So, the first is unvoiced and the second is voiced. It has the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong [aɪ] in between. Five, five, five. Notice that the V consonant sound at the end is very short. Five. Six. Six begins and ends with the S consonant sound, unvoiced, six. The vowel sound is the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ vowel sound [ɪ]. We then have the K consonant sound, sik- sik-, where the tongue comes up here and pulls away to release air. Sik, six. And then finally, the S consonant sound again to end. Six.
Seven also begins with the S consonant sound and opens into the ‘eh’ as in ‘bed’ vowel sound [ε]. Se-, se-. It then has the V consonant sound, sev-, where the lip moves up and touches the teeth, sev. And the final syllable is the schwa [ə] followed by the N sound, -en, -en. So the tongue, which is down, pulls up to lightly touch the roof of the mouth, -en, to make the N sound. Seven, seven.
Eight. Eight has the ‘ay’ as in ‘say’ diphthong [eɪ] followed by the T sound, tt, where you release the air through the teeth, tt, by pulling the tongue away. Eight. This is pronounced the exact same way as the word A-T-E, as in, ‘I ate that yesterday’. Nine. Nine begins and ends with the N consonant sound, nn, nn, where the front part of the tongue is up against the roof of the mouth, nine. And in between those two sounds is the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong. Nine, nine. And ten. Ten has the ‘eh’ as in ‘bed’ vowel sound after, tt, the T sound: te-, te-, ten. Ten. You can see the tongue then has to move up to touch the roof of the mouth the make the N. Ten.