I can’t make him out.

i can't make him out

Notice that “I”, when unstressed, can reduce to the short vowel /ʌ/. Because of the “m” of “make”, the “n’t” of “can’t” is pronounced with the lips, not the tongue. There is a stop between the words, but don’t open your lips. Listen and practise. The “h” of “him” is tricky, so we just miss it out.

“Make someone or something out” is a phrasal verb meaning to see or understand clearly. It’s often used in the negative. This phrase means “I can’t understand him well”, or “I don’t know what to think of him.”

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Happy New Year!

happy-new-year

The close proximity of the two /j/ sounds can be quite difficult. Start by practising “new year”, then build up to the full phrase.

I don’t think the meaning needs explaining. Best wishes to everybody.

Last minute shopping.

last-minute-shopping

We make the link between “last” and “minute” easier by making the t silent. The t at the end of “minute” is pronounced right down in your throat where you make a /h/ sound. We’ve practised this before. This makes it easier to get to the /ʃ/ sound.

This is a noun phrase, used, for example, in a phrase like, “I have to do some last minute shopping.” That means shopping when there’s not much time left. Don’t panic though. Christmas, if you celebrate it, isn’t till Sunday. Plenty of time..

It makes my blood boil!

it makes my blood boil

The “t” in “it” is pronounced with both your lips, not the tongue, so you’re ready for the /m/ sound. Be careful not to open your lips between the sounds. A similar thing happens with the “d” of “blood”. This is also pronounced with both lips, not tongue, to be ready for the /b/ sound. Again, don’t open your lips between the sounds.

The phrase means, “It makes me angry”. I hope nothing makes your blood boil today.

What did you make of it?

what did you make of it

The first three words contract down to something which sounds like one. Of course, we don’t generally pause between words anyway. I put gaps in the transcription because it’s too hard to read without them, but they’re not there when we speak. Notice the weak vowel in “of”. A lot of prepositions are often pronounced with the /ə/ sound.

If you’re finding it difficult to read the transcription, don’t forget you can follow links on the Useful Links page to an interactive chart and the BBC tutorials. You’ll soon get the hang of it! (There’s a phrase we should do sometime!)

In the phrase “What did you make of it?”, the word “make” means “think”. The meaning is then clear.

What do you make of Say the Phrase? Please post comments and share.

 

You made it!

you made it

Because the stressed word is “made”, “you” is weak, so the vowel becomes shorter and changes to /ə/. The sound /eɪ/ is simply the two sounds /e/ and /ɪ/ joined together without a break. Notice the glottal stop /ʔ/ at the end. A full /t/ sound would need too much stress, or effort on an unstressed word.

The phrase usually means “you got here (or there).” For example, you might say it to somebody who arrives at your party, if you weren’t sure they would come.

It made my day!

it made my day

Because /t/ to /m/ is difficult, the “t” of “it” is pronounced with your lips instead of your tongue. It’s important to keep your lips closed between the two sounds. We have the same problem with /d/ to /m/, so make the “d” with your lips also, remembering not to open your lips until you let the air out of your nose for the /m/ sound. This will take practice, and feel strange at first, so listen and copy as many times as you need to.

The phrase means, “It was the best thing that happened to me today”. Maybe it was that girl or boy who smiled at you, or that lottery win, or something kind somebody said.