37: 'says' and 'said'--two words NOT pronounced with 'long a' /eɪ/

/sɛz/ and /sɛd/: be careful about mispronouncing these two high-frequency words.


Hi everyone, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English Pronunciation Podcast. My name is Mandy, and this is our 37th episode.

I hope you enjoyed last week's word: palpable.

This week I've chosen two high-frequency words that I often hear mispronounced. Most of my students that say these words incorrectly never noticed that Americans ever pronounced them any other way. The words are says and said.

The words says and said are not pronounced with a long a sound, even though they are spelled the way the long a is usually spelled: with an ay and an ai. Remember, the long a sounds like the letter name, so long a sounds like (long a). The word say, s-a-y, is pronounced with a long a. Can you hear it? Say.

The words says and said are pronounced with a short e sound. If you remember from way back in episode 9, the key word for the short e sound (short e) is bed. (b sound, short e, d sound) Bed.

Notice that the word said, s-a-i-d, rhymes with bed. Said, bed. Repeat those two words after me.


said, bed


If you pronounce s-a-i-d with a long a, it will sound like you are saying sayed (s-a-y-e-d). Saying sayed will just sound like bad grammar.

S-a-y-s, sounds like says, not (sayes). Pronounce that word as if it were spelled s-e-z if it makes it easier.

By the way, s-a-y and s-a-y-i-n-g ARE both pronounced with a long a.

Here are all four: say and saying (with a long a), says and said (with a short e). I'll say them again: say, saying, says, said. Now you say them.

Now, one more time, to make sure you are using a different vowel sound in the words say and saying than you are using in says and said. Repeat after me:


say, saying, says, said


Nicely done!

If you're not sure you are properly pronouncing these sounds, even when you know which words should be pronounced a certain way, then the remote assessment is for you! For $80US, you can buy the remote assessment. You will download a script to read, then you call us, over the phone or with Skype, and read the script into a voicemail. Within 5 days we will send you your results, scored by real, professional teachers at Seattle Learning Academy. You will be told which sounds you are not saying correctly, and any sounds you substitute with a different sound. We also check your syllable stress for any errors you make there, too.

If you do know which sounds cause you the most problems, you can buy the MP3 sound drill downloads for just $10US. You will receive over 4 hours of audio practice as well as PDFs of the lists. Practicing your sounds through these MP3 files will also bring lots of new vocabulary words to you attention as well.

Of course, you can also still buy the ebook Pronunciation Pages: Sounds of American English as well. Go to Pronuncian.com, and click the products tab to learn more.

I'm also getting very excited about the beginning of video podcasts on January 1, 2009, and an exciting announcement that will come with them. Only 5 more shows to go until then!

All right, that's all for today, everyone!

This has been a Seattle Learning Academy digital publication. Seattle Learning Academy is where the world comes to learn.

Thanks for listening!