Are you sure? You’ll hear this phrase often in English conversation around making decisions. Learn how to say this phrase comfortably in conversational English: what words or syllables to reduce, how to link everything together, and the melodic shape of the phrase.
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to study the pronunciation of the phrase: Are you sure?
This is part of a sentence study series, where we look at a short, common phrase, and discuss its pronunciation. First let’s look at this phrase up close and in slow motion.
First let’s talk about the stress. It’s a three-syllable phrase with stress on the last syllable: are you sure? da-da-DA, da-da-DA. We want the first two syllables to be really short to contrast with the last, longer syllable. da-da-DA, are you sure?
The word ‘are’ can reduce to just the R sound. rr, rr, rr-you sure, rr-you sure? The lips will probably flare out a little, but not too much because we’re not starting a stressed syllable, and it will be really quick. The tongue is pulled back and up, and the middle part might be touching the roof of the mouth or the inside of your teeth here, rr, rr, but the tip isn’t touching anything. To transition into the Y sound, my tongue comes back down and forward. The tip will touch here, behind the bottom front teeth, and the front/middle part will touch here, the roof of the mouth, a little further forward than it was for the R. Rr-yy, rr-yy. While the tongue is at the roof of the mouth for the Y, my throat is making this sound. Yy, yy. My jaw really doesn’t need to move much between these two sounds, rr-yy [3x]. Now we have the schwa, because I’m reducing the OO as in BOO vowel. It would still sound very natural with an OO vowel, as long as you can make it really fast. Just like ‘are’, are you, are you, are you. They’re both very fast. Are you sure? Are you sure? Are you [3x].
Now we have the stressed word, ‘sure’. It begins with the SH consonant sound. The tongue was down for the schwa, so we want to lift it to the roof of the mouth. The front part of the tongue will be very close to the roof of the mouth, but not yet touching, sh, sh. The teeth are closed and the lips will flare, sure, sure. Then we have the UR has in HER vowel and R consonant sound. The tongue will pull back and up just like it was for the word ARE. So the tongue is back for ARE, rr, then comes forward for the Y and SH sounds, and then back again for the R. Are you sure? Notice the voice goes up in pitch at the end. Are you suuure? That’s because it’s a yes/no question, and these questions usually go up in pitch at the end. Are you sure? Are you sure?
Let’s watch one more time in slow motion.
This video is part of a series. Click here to see other videos just like it. If you have a phrase you’d like to suggest for this series, please put it in the comments.
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.