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Tranings , American English

Worried that you can’t learn an American English accent?

You don’t need to worry.

It’s totally possible—you’ve probably already heard someone who’s done it.

Think of your favorite actor, for example. Have you seen a movie where they played the part of an American, but you know they aren’t?

Okay, maybe they had a Hollywood language coach helping them.

But effective American accent training is possible even for those of us who don’t live that lifestyle.

The Difference Between Accent and Pronunciation

Before we explore the features of American accents, it’s important to understand that accent and pronunciation aren’t the same.

The accent is where the rules of the language are governed by your location or class. Accent refers to differences in stress on letters in a word.

Pronunciation is more about speaking the language. It’s the way you articulate words for better undestanding . Your instructor or tutor can help you with pronunciation.

When you speak with a non-American accent, that doesn’t mean you’re speaking incorrectly. However, mispronunciation can mean that you’re speaking incorrectly.

What Makes the American English Accent Unique?

While over 800 million people speak English, lost English speakers are not native speakers. The recognizable American accent is what English learners commonly strive for.

The American accent is actually older than the U.K. accent. The American accent as we know it today was the accent originally spoken by the sattlers  that first landed in what’s now known as the U.S.

Around the 19th century in the U.K., upper classes wanted a way to distinguish themselves from the poor. Eventually, the accent they developed spread all over the region (people have always wanted to be like the rich). What resulted is the U.K. accent as we know it today, and that’s why it sounds diffrent from Today's American accent

The primary feature that separates the American accent from the U.K. accent is called rhotic speech. The American accent (with some exceptions, as we’ll discuss below) is rhotic. That means Americans pronounce the “r” in words such as “hard” (har-d). Non-rhotic speakers drop the “r,” and would pronounce the word “hard” like hah-d.

There are some exceptions, of course. Some Americans in the New England area of the U.S. such as Boston, Massachusetts use non-rhotic speech.

Other features of American accent include:

  • The short “a” sound prominent in words such as “man” and “cat”
  • The use of an unrounded (relaxed; slack) vowel in words such as a “lot” (pronounced “laht”)
  • Dropping words. American English speakers may use shortened sentences, implying words without actually saying them. In the U.K., this is much less common. For example:

Jim: “Are you going to the store on your way home?”

Jan: “I could. What you need?” (I could go to the store. What do you need?)