SOUND BETTER: Stop pronouncing the letter…

English pronunciation can be tricky, especially when it comes to sounding like a native speaker. Common phrases like “last night” and “I don’t know” are often pronounced differently than they are written. Understanding these subtleties can significantly improve your spoken English. In this post, we’ll explore these nuances and offer some alternative phrases to “I don’t know” that convey more engagement and care in conversations.

Pronunciation Nuances in English

Native English speakers often blend sounds together, making some letters virtually disappear in casual speech. For example:

  • “I don’t know” is commonly pronounced as “I dunno”, omitting the ‘t’.
  • “Last night” becomes “las’ night”, where the ‘t’ is barely audible.
More Than Just “I Don’t Know”

Responding with “I don’t know” might come off as indifferent. To show you care, even if you don’t have an answer, consider these alternatives:

  1. “Let me find out”: This shows willingness to seek the answer.
  2. “I’m not sure right now”: It’s honest and implies that you might know later.
  3. “That’s a great question, I’ll have to get back to you on that”: This compliments the questioner and shows respect for their inquiry.
  4. “Ask me again in a few minutes”: Indicates that you might be able to provide an answer shortly.
  5. “I’ll let you know as soon as I find out”: Promises a follow-up when you have the information.
Pronunciation Practice: The Glottal Stop and Other Tips
  • In words like “international” and “mountain”, the ‘t’ sound is softened or omitted in fast, natural speech.
  • Pay attention to the ‘t’ sounds before ‘n’ or ‘m’ sounds; they often aren’t fully pronounced. For instance, “got milk” becomes “goh milk”.

Understanding these pronunciation nuances and using alternative phrases to “I don’t know” can make your English sound more natural and engaging. Practice these tips, and let us know your thoughts or questions in the comments. Stay tuned for more insights into mastering the English language! Watch the video to hear the lesson in Gabby’s own words.


Picture of Gabby Wallace, M.Ed TESOL

Gabby Wallace, M.Ed TESOL

About the Author
Gabby Wallace is the Founder of Go Natural English, where you can quickly improve your confidence speaking English through advanced fluency practice. Even if you don't have much time, this is the best place for improving your English skills. Millions of global intermediate - advanced English students are learning with Gabby's inspiring, clear, and energetic English lessons. Gabby has a Masters Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Boston University and 20+ years experience helping students become fluent through her online courses and membership program.

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