How to Connect with People in American English~Say People’s Names

How to connect with people in American English ~Say peoples’ names correctly

Say peoples’ names correctly

Say peoples’ names correctly

Step 2 in my series, How to connect with people in American English, is called, Learn to say peoples’ names correctly.

People liked to be addressed by their name.

And they prefer to hear their name pronounced correctly. I know I do!

Saying someone’s name correctly when you meet them is a key step to building a strong relationship.

Stress the first syllable

Most American names with two syllables are stressed on the first syllable.*

  1. David
  2. Steven
  3. Susan
  4. Jason

Listen here

Can you hear how I stress first syllable in each name?

This is a very common pattern!

First & last names

Additionally, when saying someone’s first and last name, be sure to stress the last name.

  1. David Johnson
  2. Steven Miller
  3. Susan Ryan
  4. Jason Freeman

Listen here

This is how Americans stress names.

When speaking with Americans, you should try to do this too.

That way your speech will sound more familiar.

And when your speech sounds more familiar, Americans will trust you and find it easier to connect with you.

Dale Carnegie

Here’s a quote from Dale Carnegie’s famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People~

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

Be sure to say people’s names correctly.

This is a key step towards building a warm relationship.

Teach people to say your name correctly

Your name may be unfamiliar to Americans.

It may be challenging for us to pronounce.  We’ll stress a syllable in your name and that will sound funny to you.

In the worst case scenario, people may avoid talking to you. They may avoid talking with you because they’re not sure how to say your name.

This has happened to many of the people who I work with in my accent reduction programs.

Help people pronounce your name

You can help your friends and colleagues connect with you more deeply by teaching them to say your name correctly.

Pronounce each syllable slowly to help them say it the right way.

Take to do this in the beginning of a relationship.

It will pay off big in the long run.


If your name is really difficult for Americans to pronounce, consider creating a shorter “nickname” that’s easier for them to say such as VJ, Sandy or Sam.

Americans like nicknames. We use them ourselves all the time.

About the author

Susan Ryan is an American English communication and accent reduction coach.

Contact me with your questions about clear American speech.