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?
B Er, how about an Indian takeaway?
2. sh – quiet!
A John, your mum’s on the phone!
B 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.
B 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.
B 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!
B Wow, it’s beautiful.
7. yuk – disgust
A Here, try this – it’s marmite on toast.
B 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.
B Haha, I’m just a bit tired this morning and I need a coffee.
9. ah – sympathy, surprise, pleasure
A Look at those kittens.
B Ah! They’re so cute.
10. argh – pain, anger, horror, rage
A Let me pour you some coffee.
B Argh! That’s my hand – you’re missing the cup!
This article uses English IPA symbols – learn each of them with pronunciation notes, diagrams and audio in Pronunciation Studio’s free Starter Pack.