how to pronounce what
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How to Pronounce What: A Comprehensive Guide

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you're unsure of how to pronounce the word "what"? Don't worry, you're not alone! Many people struggle with the correct pronunciation of this common word. In this guide, we will explore various pronunciations of "what" and provide you with some helpful tips to master its pronunciation.

1. Understanding the Basic Pronunciation of "What"

Before we delve into different pronunciations, let's first establish the most common and widely accepted way to pronounce "what." The standard pronunciation is as follows:


This pronunciation can be broken down into the following sounds:

  • /w/: Start by making a "w" sound, similar to the one you make when saying "we" or "well."
  • /ɒ/: This is a short and low vowel sound, similar to the "o" in "lot" or "got."
  • /t/: End the word with a crisp "t" sound, as you would in words like "top" or "tap."

2. Regional Variations in Pronunciation

While the standard pronunciation we discussed above is widely accepted, it's important to note that there can be variations in different English-speaking regions. Here are a few examples:

2.1. American English Pronunciation

In American English, you may come across a slightly different pronunciation of "what." It is commonly pronounced as:


In this pronunciation, the vowel sound "ɒ" is replaced with a longer "ɑː" sound, similar to the vowel in words like "car" or "park."

2.2. British English Pronunciation

British English also has its own variations in pronunciation. In some regions of the UK, "what" may be pronounced as:


In this pronunciation, the final "t" sound is replaced with a glottal stop (ʔ), which is a brief pause or closure of the vocal cords.

3. Tips for Correct Pronunciation

If you're struggling with pronouncing "what" correctly, here are some tips that can help:

  1. Listen to Native Speakers: One of the best ways to improve your pronunciation is by listening to native speakers. Pay attention to how they pronounce "what" and try to mimic their pronunciation.
  2. Practice Regularly: Pronunciation is a skill that improves with practice. Make it a habit to practice saying "what" out loud regularly.
  3. Record Yourself: To identify areas for improvement, record yourself pronouncing "what" and listen to the recording. Compare it with native speakers and make adjustments accordingly.
  4. Use Online Resources: There are numerous online resources, such as pronunciation guides and audio clips, that can help you perfect your pronunciation of "what."

4. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

4.1. Is there a "correct" way to pronounce "what"?

Yes, the standard pronunciation we discussed earlier (/wɒt/) is considered the most widely accepted and "correct" way to pronounce "what." However, regional variations do exist.

4.2. Why is the pronunciation of "what" different in different English-speaking regions?

Language is dynamic and constantly evolving. Different regions develop their own unique accents and pronunciation patterns over time. These variations contribute to the diversity of the English language.

4.3. Can I use any pronunciation of "what" interchangeably?

While it's best to strive for the standard pronunciation, using regional variations of "what" within their respective regions is generally acceptable. However, be mindful of your audience and the context in which you are speaking.

5. Conclusion

Pronouncing "what" correctly is an essential skill in mastering the English language. By understanding the standard pronunciation (/wɒt/) and being aware of regional variations, you can confidently pronounce "what" in any situation. Remember to practice regularly and seek guidance from native speakers or online resources. With time and dedication, you'll conquer the pronunciation of "what" effortlessly!

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