That did the trick.

that did the trick

The important thing here is that no vowel appears between “That” and “did”, and between “did” and “the”. This is surprisingly easy, because the sounds are very close in the mouth. When you make the /t/ at the end of “that”, be careful not to let it out. Your tongue is already in position for the /d/, so simply introduce the voice, and release the /d/. This will take practice. Between /d/ and /ð/ again, you need to keep the tongue in contact, but this time you need to change the way you make the /d/ slightly, placing your tongue a little forward, so it comes in contact with your top teeth, ready for the /ð/ sound. This will feel strange at first, and also needs practice. Have fun!

The phrase means “that solved the problem”.


I’m done in.

I'm done in

In Northern Standard English, the /ʌ/ is pronounced /ʊ/, like “book”. Learners often find it strange that we stress prepositions, but it’s normal with a phrasal verb or adjective. People sometimes find it strange that we can have a preposition at the end of a sentence, but this is perfectly OK.

“Done in” means very tired or dead, so you might say this after a very hard day’s work, or after running a marathon.

That’ll do.

that'll do

Remember to be sure your tongue is touching your top teeth for the first sound /ð/. The really tricky bit here, though, is the three consonants /tld/ together. You must pronounce these without a vowel sound coming between them. When you make the /t/ sound, don’t remove your tongue from the top of your mouth. Keep the front of your tongue in place, but lift the middle slightly, letting air pass round the sides (This is much easier than it sounds) and introduce your voice. The result is you move smoothly from /t/ to /l/. Now push the middle of your tongue back up a little to where it was, and you’ll go to the /d/ sound. This will all take some practice, but the important thing is to keep the front of your tongue touching the top of your mouth all the time.

The phrase means “That’s good enough”, or sometimes, “That’s enough”.

However, if you place a lot more stress, and bigger intonation on “do”, it means “Stop it!”, in an imperative way:

This and that.

this and that

This apparently simple phrase is actually quite interesting. First, it’s a good chance to practise the tricky /ð/ sound. Remember the front of your tongue must touch the top teeth, but don’t stick it out. The /ɪ/ sound must be nice and short. Practise going from /s/ to /n/ without making a vowel in between. Also, the /n/ sound must be further forward than usual, again, with the tongue just touching the top teeth, ready for the following /ð/ sound.

The phrase is a vague answer when there’s no need for detail, for example:

“What have you been doing?”

“Oh, you know, this and that.”

I’ve got a thing about..

I've got a thing about..

We’ve spoken about “thing” recently, so here, I’d like to draw your attention to the weak vowel /ə/ for “a”, and for the first syllable of “about”. This sound is very common for unstressed vowels, and is made with the mouth just slightly open, and completely relaxed. It requires practice. It’s also good practice to listen for this sound when listening to a song or watching TV in English.

This phrase usually means “I really like..” or “I’m slightly obsessed with..”, for example, “I’ve got a thing about English pronunciation.”

What can I do for you?

What can I do for you

Notice the change in the pronunciation of the “t” in “what”. This is to make it easier to pronounce the following /k/ sound. Instead of pronouncing the “t” with the front of your tongue, use the back of the tongue, then you can go straight to the /k/ without removing your tongue in between the sounds. This takes practice. Also remember you want the weak pronunciation of “can”. The vowel sound is /ə/, not /æ/.

This simple question is another way of saying “How can I help you?”