How should I pronounce American names?

Building Connections in the Workplace

How should I pronounce American names?

How should I pronounce American names?

The people I work with in my accent reduction coaching programs often ask me,

Susan, how should I pronounce American names?

I’m very pleased that they ask me this question.

That’s because if you want to build connections with others in your organization, it’s really important to say peoples’ name correctly.

Two rules for pronouncing American names

Here are two rules that’ll help you say American names correctly.

#1 Two syllable names are usually stressed on the first syllable

  • Susan
  • Thomas
  • David
  • Laura

In the names above,  say the first syllable with a long clear vowel sound. Reduce the sound of the vowel in the second syllable (reduced schwa vowel sound) as shown below.

  • Su→sǝn
  • Tho→mǝs
  • Da→vǝd
  • Laur→ǝ

#2 Last names should be stressed more than first names

When saying someone’s first and last name, give extra emphasis to the last name.

  • Thomas Daly
  • Laura Jackson
  • David Greenberg
  • Susan Ryan

This is how Americans stress names. When speaking with Americans, you should try to do this too.

Listen here


Dale Carnegie on pronouncing peoples’ names

Don’t underestimate the importance of saying peoples’ names correctly. As Dale Carnegie said in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People:

“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” ❤

Be sure to say people’s names correctly. This is the first step to building a warm relationship.

Speak in a way that build connections

In my American accent training programs for professionals I teach you to:

  • pronounce American names correctly
  • speak with the right pace
  • speak in a style that sounds friendly to Americans

If your goal is to speak clearly and build connections with the people in your workplace or community, try one of my free trial lessons.

You’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain!

About the author

Susan Ryan is the author of the ConfidentVoice blog and an accent reduction coach. Contact her with your questions about clear American speech.