Pronouncing American English Numbers: 5 Easy Tips
The importance of Pronouncing English Numbers
When you pronounce English numbers accurately, your communication partners will focus on WHAT you’re saying and not on HOW you’re saying it. You’ll sound more natural in your speech rhythm. In this article, you’ll learn straight-forward rules for pronouncing numbers when speaking about time, amount, and money.
Pronunciation of numbers requires knowledge of where to place stress. Stress means that we speak in a louder and higher pitched voice. The duration of your voice will also be slightly longer. Place stress on the syllables indicated below. The stress location changes depending on whether the number is a “teen,” “ten,” or number above twenty. Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker & Lynda Katz-Wilner, authors of Rules for Using Linguistic Elements of Speech: A Resource and Interactive Workbook, provide straightforward information for mastering pronunciation of numbers.
Pronouncing Numbers with Accurate Stress Placement: 5 Easy Tips
1. Stress for Counting Teen Numbers
Stress the first syllable in “teen” numbers. For example, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, eighteen, nineteen.
2. Stress for Counting Numbers Above Twenty
When counting, stress the second number for numbers above twenty. For example, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine.
3. Stress for Counting and Telling Time with “Ten” Numbers
Stress the first syllable when counting or referring to the “ten” numbers. For example, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety.
4. Stress for Time, Money, Amount-Teen Numbers
When stating numbers, as in time, money, or amounts, stress the last part of the “teen” numbers. Note that you stress a different syllable than when you’re counting. For example, notice that the stressed syllables are the following examples:
5. Stress for Stating Time, Money, Amount-Numbers other than “Ten” Numbers
Stress the last part of the number. See examples below:
Applying your Knowledge: Practice Exercises
In summary, numbers receive stress depending on the following factors. Stress changes depending on whether they’re “teen,” “ten,” numbers above twenty, whether you’re counting or stating time, money, and amounts, and whether you’re naming the unit of money, time, or amount.
Here’s to your American Accent when speaking in numbers!
Source: Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker & Lynda Katz-Wilner. Rules for Using Linguistic Elements of Speech: A Resource and Interactive Workbook. Owings Mills: Successfully Speaking, 2006, 2007, 2nd Edition. Print.