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3 ways to pronounce the EX sound in English

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Good pronunciation is essential to sounding like a native English speaker. Because words don't always sound like they are spelled, it can be confusing to learn how to say them correctly. But don't worry. There are rules to help you understand how to pronounce them. In this lesson, you will learn three different ways to pronounce the EX sound in English. Do you know the pronunciation difference between "excellent" and "exact"? Watch this lesson, and find out. http://www.engvid.com/3-ways-to-pronounce-ex/ TRANSCRIPT Oh, E. You didn't expect your ex-girlfriend to do that, did you? Wow. That's nasty. Here's the problem. This isn't how you spell "expect". And this isn't how you spell "ex-girlfriend". But this is how you pronounce it. So today's lesson is on pronunciation. How to pronounce the EX in English. It seems easy. X, here. But really, what happens is when the X comes in certain, you know -- how do I explain? I'll do it this way. English is what we call a "stress time language". And what that means is we stress certain parts of our language. So we make some parts of the language stronger than others. You might think, "Why is this important?" Well, most other languages are syllable stressed. And a "syllable" is basically a vowel sound with some consonants, and the words are joined this way. Okay? But in English, we don't really care about the sound of the syllable as much as we do about the stress on the words. And because of that, when we do stress, it helps us figure out what is a verb, what is a noun, what is an adverb, and what is an adjective, and what we call "functions", like prepositions and, you know, pronouns. We can tell the difference by the stress on the words. Easy? Good. So this is why I have to mention this because that will explain why these things change. The stress in English depends on -- where we say the X is depending on the sound it makes. Remember what I said? Stress in English tells us if it's a thing or a verb or a describer, an adjective, or an adverb or a function. And we have this here to help us figure out which one is which. There are a couple of rules I'm going to give you in a second or two. I'm going to go to the board and look at that. But one thing I'm going to say now and at the end is please remember that English is a global language, and not all the English in England is the same as in Canada or the same as America or Australia. So some of the words, you'll go, "Well, we say it like this." I'm like, "Yeah. You do. But we say it like this." It doesn't make it wrong. It's just to remember. And that's why I usually say I make 80 percent rules. 80 percent of the time, nobody cares because it's basically right. So those of you with your books going, "Well, I read the Merriam dictionary, and it said this." You're right. You got me. So what? Okay? Because the other dictionary says something else. All right? So this is to basically help you understand that this is how you can understand what we're doing. You don't have to be perfect, but you can understand what we're saying and copy it. And to help make it easy for you to learn these things. Are you ready? Let's go to the board. Boom. I'm a new X-Man. Mr. Disappear. See? X-Man? Get it? Anyway. Let's go to the board, all right? So to help us figure out whether it's "eks", "iks", or "egz", I'm going to give you a couple of, well, three little grammar rules that are quick and you can follow that will be helpful to you. No. 1, if the first syllable -- that's why I made it No. 1, because I'm smart like that -- is stressed or -- please remember this part; it's very important -- or if it's followed by a consonant, we're going to see "eks". Okay? So you've got your "ex" plus "con". So in the first two cases we, have "extreme" and "expand". Okay? So we're looking at is a consonant here, okay? And you know, we're not talking about the stress in the syllable here. We're just talking about the fact that there's a consonant following. Cool? All right. But if we look at "excellent", we do say, "This is excellent work." We say the "ex" first. Is similar to "X-Men" where we really put the stress on the first part. So the first syllable is stressed. So you have, "Excellent work." But nothing to the extreme. Right? So you have the second stressed, but we're saying really what we care about is there's a consonant following the "ex". Good? All right. That's the first one. Now, let's look at the second one. See? Smart guy, again. Second syllable, No. 2. I work at this. I'm a professional. Don't try this at home. Okay? The second syllable is stressed. So we look at "expect", "exclude", and "external". All right? And because of that -- see what we've got here? We say -- the second syllable, it becomes "iks". "Ikspect", "iksclude", and "iksternal". Right? We don't know "EXternal". It's "external". "It's an external thing." "He's excluded." All right? "What do you expect?" Not "expect". "What do you 'ikspect'?"
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Text Comments (61)
Cecilia Rejas (25 days ago)
Im addicted to ur videos !!!😃
Daniel Dazzling (3 months ago)
I need your help with this. The rule is simple: odd one outs A. etiQUette B.critiQUE C. picturesQUE D.QUerulously
Tolga (4 months ago)
the mic has been broken down when you touch your tie
Isabela Aleixo (1 year ago)
Wow!This guy is amazing!And it only took me 1 minute of watching the video to figure it out!
Sally Parks (1 year ago)
I HATE MY SPEECH impediment!!!!!!!
Jason Krone (2 years ago)
x in xylophone makes a z sound.
sohail ansari (1 year ago)
The rules apply on ex; not on x... which gives the xylophone a z sound
Demmy Christy (2 years ago)
I don't understand
The letter "X" is a problem in portuguese too. But my biggest problem is say word with "TH" sound. For me is very hard say word as "Theater", "Thanks", etc...
Sure that you help me, I will look for a native teacher to train and improve my convertation. Thanks.
Butterposa (1 year ago)
The sounds are the same. The only difference is that for the /th/ as in "this," you need to vibrate your vocal chords. Compare this to the /s/ and /z/ sounds. They are exactly the same. The mouth position does not change. The only difference is the vibration of the vocal chords. Well, the same is true for the /th/ as in "this" and the /th/ as in "think." "This" requires vibration, but "think" does not. The mouth/tongue position does not change. It is the same. I hope this helps.
Clara Smith (1 year ago)
Same here. I know a little arabic that's why I can pronunce it a little. But I'm still having hard time in "though, that, those..." omg It's killing me😒
Butterposa (2 years ago)
Until you learn how to say the sound, try to say the /s/ as you stick out your tongue. The sound that will come out will be /th/. Try it.
Aaron Miller (2 years ago)
that eggsactly sounds like igsactly
Gerfon szlpz (2 years ago)
excellent james
Tom Tomski (3 years ago)
Sorry to say but there are more exceptions to your rules than words which obey them.
Betty Wang (3 years ago)
I don't want just to practice my listening , I aslo hope ,someone who also want to improve Spoken English, would you like to talk with me? My Skype : betty.wang886
junghyun . kim (3 years ago)
Than how about the pronunciation of "Excuse me"?? Is it pronounced like "X-man" or "Expect" ??
Haydee Ramos (3 years ago)
Waranvit Hayeeyahya (3 years ago)
I say with Esk for all Ex  thank you so much
Jason Li (3 years ago)
Egor Gorshenin (3 years ago)
Didn't understand the difference between the 1st and the 2nd rules.
Karol Stefański (2 years ago)
It's spelled as "ikstream" or something.
Benji Linus (2 years ago)
what about extreme? the 2nd syllable is stressed there. expect, on the other hand - the 2nd syllable and a consonant following. there's something wrong with the logic.
Karol Stefański (2 years ago)
You're welcome.
Egor Gorshenin (2 years ago)
+Karol Stefański okay, now I understand, thank you.
Karol Stefański (2 years ago)
+Egor Gorshenin Eks vs. Iks. -> EXcellent (EKS), exPAnd (Iks). Watch which syllable is stressed.
MYDTU (3 years ago)
Very good lesson <3 Thank you
Christy au (3 years ago)
you are very hot!!! I mean... very smart ;) love your videos 
Salvatore Carvelli (3 years ago)
I'm looking people for speaking and chatting in English on Skype.My level is b2 and my Skype contact is scarvelli78 from Italy.Please add me if your gmt is between 1 to 4 hours(-/+)
langu English - German (3 years ago)
Great video or :) excellent!
Jackie chang (3 years ago)
cool and gentle....... good style  : )
Adriano C Almeida (3 years ago)
I love their classes, James. You're funny and a great teacher!
Маша Gerasymenko (3 years ago)
реально классно разъясняет и я понимаю полностью всё, что он гласит
Karol Stefański (2 years ago)
+Denys Gerasymenko Nice ;D
Sabrina loedler (3 years ago)
Alejandra Robles (3 years ago)
I've said it a lot of times, but I will say it again anyway. You are the best teacher ever!! And also the coolest! :)
Klienbottle Enthusiast (3 years ago)
*"Don't try this at home, I'm a professional"* god damn, he's the coolest teacher ever
mazen ezou (3 years ago)
+elkhadir hadi ه ه هه ه ه ه هه ه هه ه ههه ه ه ه ه ههه ه ه هه هه ه ه
Klienbottle Enthusiast (3 years ago)
+elkhadir hadi you feeling alright buddy?
elkhadir hadi (3 years ago)
ب ب ب ب ب. ب. بب ب ب ب ب ب ب. ب. بب بب. ب ب ببببب. ب ب ب ب ب بب بب ب ب ببب ببب
Martin Chan (3 years ago)
Oh yeah! You are finally back
Flávio Gomes (3 years ago)
Hey, James, this nª 3 rule is applied to British English, right? I'm askin' cos I both always saw in the US dictionaries and heard them pronounce "exam" like "ig'zam". Looking forward to your answer. Hugs!
v_crown (3 years ago)
Other teachers Speak Slow but, is not real english so... Your the best! Really I enjoyed this video
AperolSpritz W (3 years ago)
Another word I don't think fits the rules here is 'exist'. The x is followed by a vowel and, according to the rules, should be pronounced as EGGZ-ist but I believe it is pronounced as IGZ-ist
Truth Seeker (3 years ago)
+Joe W to be comfortable just say what you hear .. don't follow rules, there are many accents used depending on where you are and to whom your speaking, and this holds for all languages not merely english!
atercat (3 years ago)
Actually (as I've noticed) a lot of native speakers pronounce words that have a non-stressed Ex with a followed vowel like IGZ. Even IGZam and IGZactly from 3rd James's rule.
AperolSpritz W (3 years ago)
What about 'exercise'? The x is followed by a vowel but I pronounce it as a 'k' not a hard 'g'
Maxime La Filastine (3 years ago)
I don't get it: why is expect different from expand? Because both of them have stress on the second syllable and ex is followed by a consonant?
Jisoo Joy (6 months ago)
In my dictionary, expand is spoken with "iks", maybe he made an mistake.
D Hunter (1 year ago)
Maxime La Filastine iiight
Hossam Syed (2 years ago)
+malcolm x the same question :D all nation wanna know what's the difference
Rodrigo A.F. (3 years ago)
+malcolm x The same question!
Srum31 (3 years ago)
Miguel Jordan (3 years ago)
thanks james you help me a lot on my ged Great videos..
ElChocoBoy (3 years ago)
hello, I'm from the Domican Republic, I just wanted to say thank you, your videos have helped me a lot
héctor garcía (3 years ago)
You're the best!!!! :) thank u!!!
Rodrigo Souza (3 years ago)

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