How to pronounce can and can’t
Every week people ask me
Susan, how do you pronounce the words can and can’t?
Here are three TIPS that will help you say can and can’t clearly.
Two pronunciations for the word CAN
How to pronounce CAN in the beginning or middle of a sentence
- When can occurs at the beginning or middle of a sentence it’s not emphasized.
- Pronounce the vowel with a schwa /ə/ (uh sound).
How to pronounce CAN at the end of a sentence
- When can occurs at the end of a sentence, pronounce it with a strong /æ/ as in Black vowel sound.
One pronunciation for the word CAN’t
- When you say can’t, pronounce the vowel sound with a nice long /æ/ as in Black vowel sound.
- Don’t over articulate the sound of the T though!
- That could make you sound angry or abrupt.
Here’s a dialog with can & can’t
Here’s a sample dialog with can & can’t based on the rules above~
John: When cən you go to the movies with me? (schwa vowel sound)
Lisa: I cæn’t go this weekend because I have to work. (long, clear /æ/ sound)
John: Cən you go on Monday? (schwa vowel sound)
Lisa: I think I cən go then, let me check my schedule. Yes, I cæn! (schwa vowel sound + long, clear /æ/sound)
About the author
Susan Ryan is an accent reduction coach. Contact her with your questions about clear American speech.