English Exclamations!

Some things we say aren’t really words, they are more like cries to show a reaction or emotion. Every language uses different exclamations, so, erm, without further delay, here are 10 used in GB English, and how to pronounce them:

1. er/erm/hmmm  – thinking / hesitation.

/ɜː/ /ɜːm/ /hm/

A What would you like for dinner?
Er, how about an Indian takeaway?

2. sh – quiet!


A  John, your mum’s on the phone!
Sh! He’s asleep, tell her to call back later.

3. oh! – surprise, disappointment, anger, joy

/əʊ/ [ɒʊ] – Many GB English speakers now start in the /ɒ/ rather than /ə/ position.

A  I’m sorry sir, all the seats are taken.
Oh, right, I’ll come back tomorrow then.

4. tut/tsk – disapproval, annoyance

[ǀ] – The sound is a dental click, it doesn’t appear anywhere else in English.

A  I won’t be able to pay you until next week.
Tut, not again.

5. brr – cold

[ʙ] – The sound is a trill made with both lips.

Brrr, it’s freezing!

6. wow – delight, admiration


A  Look, a shooting star!
Wow, it’s beautiful.

7. yuk – disgust


A  Here, try this – it’s marmite on toast.
Yuk! How can anyone eat that?

8. haha – laughter

/hɑː hɑː/ – Often used sarcastically.

A  Blimey! What’s wrong with you? I’ve seen more enthusiasm in a sedated donkey.
Haha, I’m just a bit tired this morning and I need a coffee.

9. ah – sympathy, surprise, pleasure


A  Look at those kittens.
Ah! They’re so cute.

10. argh – pain, anger, horror, rage


A  Let me pour you some coffee.
Argh! That’s my hand – you’re missing the cup!