How to Pronounce US Place Names

Pronouncing US Place Names

How to pronounce US place names

How to pronounce US place names.

This is my follow up post on how to pronounce US place names. If you missed yesterday’s post, how to pronounce American place names, you may want to start there.

Two Errors

Yesterday I told you that the BBC Guide, How to Pronounce US Place Names contained 2 errors.

Did you figure out what they were?

The Answers

Here are the answers:

Arkansas should be stressed on the first syllable. That’s the way most Americans say it.

  • Ar➝kansas

Albuquerque should also be stressed on the first syllable. That’s the way most Americans say it.

  • A➝lbuquerque

There will always be exceptions (this is a big country) but most people will say both of these place names with stress on the first syllable.

Listen to My Pronunciation of  Arkansas & Albuquerque


Learn to Pronounce US Place Names in my Webinar Classes

I teach you rules for pronouncing American place names, American names (people) and other critical communication skills in my Unlock Your American Accent Webinar Classes .

Click on the big blue banner up there on your right to see the details. ↗

Or, choose one of the links below to learn more tips for speaking clear American English. Thanks for visiting!


How to Pronounce American Place Names

How to pronounce American place names.

How to pronounce American place names.

Pronouncing American Place Names

A frequent question that I receive from my accent reduction coaching clients is,

Susan, can you teach me how to say American place names correctly?

And I always tell them, “of course, I can do that!”

How to Pronounce American Place Names

Pronouncing cities, states and other locations correctly is actually quite tricky. That’s because American place names have many origins.

Many of our place names come from French including:

  • Louisville
  • Des Moines
  • Boise
  • Baton Rouge

Others come from native American languages including:

  • Minnesota
  • Wisconsin
  • Mississippi
  • Massachusetts

And then of course there’s all of our Spanish derived place names including:

  • San Francisco
  • California
  • Colorado
  • San Jose

Of course we’ve “Americanized” the pronunciations of all the place names listed above. So they don’t sound like they would in their language of origin.

One Clear Rule for Pronouncing American Place Names Correctly

Amid all the various names, here’s one rule that will stand true 99% of the time.

Stress two word place names on the second word. For example:

  • Miami BEACH              put the emphasis on BEACH
  • San JOSE                       put the emphasis on JOSE
  • Niagara FALLS            put the emphasis on FALLS
  • North CAROLINA       put the emphasis on CAROLINA

Learn to Pronounce American Place Names in my Webinar Classes

I teach you rules that will help you pronounce American place names, American names (of people) and other critical communication skills in my Unlock Your American Accent Webinar Classes .

Click on the big blue banner up there on your right to see the details. ↗

Some Errors in this Guide from BBC America

And one more thing….this Guide to Pronouncing American Place Names from the BBC contains at least 2 errors. Do you know what they are?

If not,… come back tomorrow when I’ll post the answers.

Guide to Pronouncing American Place Names 



Reduced Speech in American English

Reduced Speech

reduced speech

Godda go!

In order to speak American English in a way that sounds natural to the native listener, you need to use reduced speech.

If you’re not familiar with the term reduced speech, think of it as groups of common words that include silent T sounds, tapped T sounds and schwa sounds.

Here are some examples of reduced speech

  • woulda
  • shoulda
  • godda
  • gonna
  • hafta
  • wanna

Some people resist

Sometimes the people who I work with in my accent reduction coaching programs resist using reduced speech forms.

They often tell me~

Susan, in my country the English teachers told us not to speak that way. They told us it sounds sloppy and uneducated.

Okay, I get that. However…..

Research on reduced speech

Americans use reduced speech forms all the time. In fact, research by Nina Weinstein, author of Whaddaya Say?, found that American speakers use reduced forms once every two minutes.

I think it’s probably even more!

Speak with a melody that’s familiar to the American listener

If you use reduced forms you’ll speak American English with a smoother, more familiar melody; a melody that Americans enjoy listening to.

People will understand you as long as you emphasize your focus words.

To learn related tips for speaking clear and fluent American English click on one of the posts below.

Thanks for visiting my ConfidentVoice blog!


How do you pronounce kilometer?

How do you pronounce kilometer?

How do you pronounce kilometer?

How do you pronounce kilometer?

Many of the people who I work with in my accent reduction coaching program mispronounce the word kilometer.

When saying this word, they put stress on meter.

That’s sounds very foreign to the American listener!

How do Americans pronounce kilometer?

Most American born people say the word kilometer with stress on the second syllable. The ➝ means to lengthen the preceding vowel sound.

  • kilo→meter

They use the same syllable stress pattern when they say the following words:

  • thermo→meter
  • para→meter
  • peri→meter
  • baro→meter

To sound VERY American….

Now if you wanna say these words in a very American way you have to add two additional techniques.

1. Use the schwa sound /ə/ for the vowels in reduced syllables

2. Use a tapped T sound /d/ in the last syllable

  • kəlo➝mədɚ
  • thermo➝mədɚ
  • pəra➝mədɚ
  • pəri→mədɚ
  • bɚo→mədɚ

Listen to the American pronunciation of kilometer & related words here.


You need to learn the correct syllable stress patterns!

Most of my accent reduction coaching clients, (IT professionals, scientists, MBA students) never learned to speak using these syllable stress patterns.

Subsequently, they say these words incorrectly. ✔

When you use syllable stress incorrectly, there’s a very good chance that your American listener will not understand what you said!

Learn the fundamental rules for syllable stress

If you are working to improve the way you speak American English, you absolutely must master your syllable stress rules. I teach you the fundamental rules in my iPad book for the American accent.

Follow the link above and check this out if you have an iPad. You can download the first chapter for free.

The Most Common Syllable Stress Pattern

You must use the correct syllable stress patterns

If you’re at all knowledgeable about American English pronunciation, you understand that using syllable stress correctly is one of the KEYS to clear communication.

American listeners need you to stress the correct syllable when you say a word. If you don’t do that, there’s a very good chance that they won’t understand you!

The most common syllable stress pattern

The info-graphic below shows you the most common syllable stress pattern in American English.

Take a look. You may be surprised at this very important rule for speaking clear American English.

Do you know this rule for speaking with an American accent?

How to stress 2 syllable nouns in American English


Read the graphic carefully to see how Americans stress syllables in two syllable nouns when they speak.

You simply must apply these rules in order to speak English in a way that Americans will understand.

Learn syllable stress rules & patterns

How can you learn these rules and patterns for correct American English pronunciation?

My iPad book for the American accent teaches you the fundamental rules for using syllable stress.

Rules, Sentence & Dialog Practice

Not only that, my iPad book provides you with sentences and dialogs that you can use to practice these patterns.

If you’re an iPad user working to improving your American accent, check out my very interactive, easy to use iBook.

Find out more about my iBook and download the first chapter for free!

☛ American Accent iPad Book.

Start learning the rules for syllable stress and put them into practice right away.✔ I guarantee that your American English will sound more clear.



Which words should I stress?

Don’t stress every word

Which words should I stress?

Which words should I stress?

One of the biggest American accent challenges my accent reduction coaching clients have to learn is choosing which words to stress in a sentence or phrase.

In fact, each week one of my clients will tell me~

Susan, I know that I’m not supposed to stress every word…but I’m not sure which words to stress and which words to reduce.

They understand something very important

You see….stressing every word equally, or stressing the wrong word in a sentence… creates an spoken melody that Americans find difficult to understand.

Stressing every word equally, or stressing the wrong word makes your speech sound foreign. This contributes to breakdowns in communication.

My clients understand this. But they don’t always know the rules for which word to stress.

Let me give you a few examples.

Japanese, Korean & Chinese speakers

Speakers of these languages tend to stress each word with the same emphasis. This makes their speech sound choppy and foreign to the native listener.

Spanish speakers

Spanish speakers tend to stress adjectives & pronouns instead of nouns.This pattern also sounds foreign to the native listener.

Indian language speakers

South Asian English speakers often stress compound nouns on the second part of the word. This sounds unusual to the native listener who expects to hear stress on the first part of the word.

Three easy rules for word stress

Learning to stress words correctly (or as we do in North America) will greatly enhance your spoken English skills.

Below are three easy rules you can use when deciding which word to stress.

1. Compound words are stressed on the first syllable.

Examples include homework, football, green card, fast food & highway


2. When an adjective is followed by a noun, stress the noun.

Examples include: pretty girl, little boy, fast car, big house & nice day


3. Two word place names are stressed on the second part.

Examples include: New York, New Jersey, Niagara Falls, Ocean City   ❀

Word stress can be tricky

It’s difficult to think about which word you should stress when you’re in the middle of a conversation!!

Even my most advanced accent reduction clients still make occasional mistakes when it comes to stressing words the way Americans do.

Word stress lessons

While word stress may seem unimportant to you now, keep in mind that it’s very important to your American English listeners! ✔

My American Accent Fundamentals iBook

My American Accent Fundamentals iBook teaches you many of the basic rules for using the correct word stress when you speak.

If you’re an iPad user who is working to improve your American accent, start learning the rules for word stress and much more in this cool interactive guide.

✰ American Accent iBook

Thanks for visiting my blog!


Have trouble expressing your thoughts?

Do you have trouble expressing your thoughts?

Nobody understands my ideas

Nobody understands my ideas

The wise and super intelligent people who I work with in my accent reduction coaching problem frequently tell me this:

Susan, I often have trouble expressing my thoughts and ideas fluently. This is really frustrating! Sometimes I don’t even say things at meetings because I’m afraid I’ll mess up.

Fluency & Confidence

It seems like fluency in speaking and confidence go hand in hand. If you don’t sound fluent, you don’t feel or sound confident.

  • You hear yourself struggling
  • Others hear you struggling
  • The situation gets uncomfortable

Then you take a back seat, even though your ideas are insightful, money saving and relevant.

How to Speak More Fluently

When I work with people in my online accent reduction class and coaching programs, I teach them to speak more fluently by using THE THREE P’s METHOD for speaking American English.

Here it it⤵

Susan’s THREE P’s METHOD for Fluent American English

  • Phrases ~ Speak in phrases
  • Pitch ~ Use pitch emphasis on the key word in each phrase
  • Pauses ~ Pause slightly at the end of each phrase

Sounds simple, right?

Well, it usually takes most people a few weeks to catch on to this pattern, but once they do….

WOW…they definitely sound more clear and more fluent!

In fact you’ll be speaking with a melody that the American listener enjoys hearing.♬

The American Listener

I’ll tell you right here…if you speak in a manner that sounds choppy, monotone, word by word, with lots of ummz & ahhhz,  people will tune out.☹

Once they tune out, your ideas, no matter how good they are, won’t get heard.

And when your ideas don’t get heard, everyone in your organization loses!

Learn to Express Yourself Fluently

In my online Accent Reduction Class, I teach you to speak more clearly and fluently using my soon to be famous THREE P’s METHOD. Right now it’s only famous with my clients as you can see from the comment below.

I just finished watching your two online courses. And I’d like to share some of my thoughts with you.  The courses are really inspiring! The “phrases, pitch and pauses” method really makes sense and greatly summarizes the key to speak.

Interesting, isn’t it?

A Quote for You to Ponder

As you think more about fluency and pitch, phrases & pauses, I’ll leave you with a quote that I like from Marianne Williamson.

Express your thoughts

Express your thoughts

Thanks for visiting my blog…and do check out my online Accent Reduction Class. Invest in your communication skills and let your wisdom emerge!

What speech habits do you need to change?

Changing Speech Habits

Changing Speech Habits

Changing Speech Habits

What speech habits do you need to change to bring your American English up to the next level?

Everyone is Different

Everyone is different. Different language backgrounds, different careers, different goals…

This means that in order to speak American English with increased

  • clarity
  • professionalism
  • confidence
  • engagement

You’ll need to understand which of your current speech habits you need to change.

Good to Great

As Jim Collins says in his acclaimed bestselling book, Good to Great,

  • in order to have new ideas, we often need to let go of old ones
  • in order to learn, we first need to recognize what we need to unlearn

That’s how it works when you’re trying to change your accent. You’ve got to let go of some of your old ways of speaking.

And that can be challenging!

Most People Need to Learn About American English Melody

When if comes to American English, speaking with the right melody (stress & intonation) is really important.

Dos & Don’ts

Right now, you habitually speak using the patterns of your native language.

If your native language gives equal stress to each syllable, you’ll tend to do that when you speak American English (we definitely don’t do that!).

If your native language doesn’t use distinctive rising falling intonation patterns, you won’t do that when you speak American English (even though you should).

A Coach Can Help you Break Your Old Habits!

While working with a client in my accent reduction coaching program this morning, he said to me;

Susan, since we started working together, I’ve been able to break my old habits for speaking English. I’ve been able to learn the new habits I needed to make people understand me. It’s taken me awhile to do this. But it’s really happening.

His honest and thoughtful reflection really made my day!

And he’s right, I, and everyone else, now understands him much more easily. That’s because he’s broken some of his old speaking habits and adopted new ways,  the American way of

  • saying key words with the correct syllable stress
  • asking information questions using rising falling intonation

Your Habits 

If your career success depends on clear American English communication, you owe it to yourself to invest in some training. Read more information here on my blog to learn more about how to speak in a style that’s clear and engaging.

  1. Start with my syllable stress archive
  2. And then go to my intonation archive

Accent Reduction Training Courses

Or check out my training courses and start doing some focused work on your communication skills. Old habits are hard to change. But you can do this. You just have to start!

Thanks for visiting!

How do you pronounce equivalent?

In my accent reduction coaching program for STEM professionals many of my clients ask me:

How do you pronounce equivalent?

How do you pronounce equivalent?

Susan, how do you pronounce equivalent?

They know they’re not saying equivalent correctly…but they’re not exactly sure what the problem is.

Here’s How To Do It

Here’s how I teach my clients to say equivalent correctly using my special code.

ǝ KWI➝ vǝ lǝnt

Now that might look funny to you, but if were were in my coaching program you’d understand that:

  • ǝ is the unstressed schwa vowel sound that we use in almost every word
  • KWI➝ represents the stressed syllable, of which there’s one in every word

Syllable Stress & Schwa

If you’ve never learned how to use syllable stress and schwa correctly….you’re not going to be able to speak American English clearly.

That’s just a fact.

Some accent reduction courses don’t spend much time on this topic…so be careful about that. If you’re considering a course or program that doesn’t feature syllable stress, find another program.


You can follow this link to learn the importance of syllable stress.

Now…back to equivalent…..

Listen to How I Say Equivalent


Equivalent is a tough word to pronounce. Especially if you learned to say if differently in your country of origin (which many people have).

Understanding how to use syllable stress and schwa will help you learn to say equivalent, equipment, development, and many other multi syllable words in way that Americans will understand.

Learn Speak in a Way that Americans Understand

If you want to learn techniques like I taught you here…techniques like using syllable stress….then check out my American accent training courses.

Make an investment in your communication skills. Start learning today!