I’ve worked it out.

i've worked it out

Remember that the -ed past simple verb ending usually has a silent “e”, so it doesn’t add a syllable. Because of the /k/ sound, the “d” becomes unvoiced – /t/. Curiously, the “t” of “it” can be voiced, making it sound like a “d”. This is optional. The final “t” can be pronounced with the tongue, or down where you make a /h/, but isn’t released.

To work something out is to solve a puzzle, mystery or problem.


It worked out OK in the end.

it worked out OK in the end


Notice that the “ed” ending of “worked” doesn’t add a syllable. The “e” is silent, and the “d” is unvoiced, so sounds like a “t”. Also notice the pronunciation of “the” when it’s followed by a vowel. It’s quite different from the dictionary pronunciation.

This phrase means “It ended well”, and you would say it about something you had been worried about, like a difficult exam. My students have exams this week, but I’m sure it will work out OK in the end.

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.”

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.

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