Understand Email Addresses in English

By 26 March 2018 Video lessons 2 Comments
Understand Email Addresses in English

Hey there, and welcome to Speak English with Christina, where you’ll have fun becoming fluent in American English. When you call potential clients or suppliers, and they tell you “Send me the information by email” well, guess what?
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You have to be absolutely sure you note their email address correctly! If you have one letter wrong, your brochure or quote will never arrive. And that means lost business for you. Boooo.

So today, you’ll learn how to be absolutely sure that you understand when someone gives you their email address over the phone. Let’s go!

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Imagine having this conversation on the phone

Geraldine: “Sure, I can send you the information. What’s your email address, please?”
Christina: “It’s freight@bimson-inc.com
Geraldine: “Sorry, can you say that again please?”
Christina: Sure, it’s freight@bimson-inc.com
Geraldine: “Freight” like “F-R-A-..
Christina: No, freight, like F-R-E-I-G-H-T
Geraldine: F-R-, sorry, what’s next?

Oh dear, we’re gonna need some help!

Telephoning in English is already pretty challenging. Trying to spell email addresses over the phone? It can be a real struggle!

And if you’re not sure, then you lose time going to the company website, trying to find if you noted the address correctly, sending your email, hoping that you spelled the address correctly. Jeesh!

Grab your pen and paper to make notes you can keep next to your phone. And let’s start with vowels.

Confusing vowels

The vowels in English are A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y. If you just learn them in that order, that can be a first helpful technique. Repeat with me: “A – E -I -O -U and sometimes Y” “A – E -I -O -U and sometimes Y”

If you’re not sure and you want to repeat back the vowels you think you understood, here’s how we to do it: A as in Alpha, E as in Echo, I as in India, O as in Oscar, U as in Uniform, Y as in Yankee.

These expressions come from the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, and they’re the standard way to specify letters in English. I’ll put a link in the show notes to a printable list of these expressions for you.

In our conversation from earlier, Geraldine could have said “Freight, like F-R-E as in echo, I as in India,” to be sure she understood those vowels.

Confusing consonants

Then, there are consonants that sound similar like B, D, and P, F and S, M and N. And others that you just may not immediately recognize, like H, K, V, and W. And consonants that are easy to confuse, like G and J.

Here’s how you can check that you’ve understood those:

B, D, and P are B as in Bravo, D as in Delta and P as in Papa. F and S are F as in Foxtrot or Flower, and S as in Sierra or Sunday. M and N are M as in Mike and N as in November.

For those unfamiliar consonants, it’s H as in Hotel, careful of your syllable stress. It’s hoTEL, not HOtel. H as in Hotel. For K, it’s K as in Kilo, Kilo, not /kaïlo/. V is V as in Victor, and W is W as in Whiskey or W as in Water.

For those confusing consonants G and J. It’s G as in Golf, and J as in Juliet. An easy way to keep them straight in your head is to think G.I. like G.I. Joe, and to think DJ, like, you know David Guetta. (Watch the video to see my very bad impression of David Guetta 😉


In email addresses, you don’t just have letters. Even though letters are already a pretty good challenge, don’t you think? But you also have to deal with the punctuation. Look at this email address: jon_ross@iea-llc.com

It’s full of punctuation!

When your potential client says it fast, it’s not so easy to note down. Let’s look at the punctuation: jon underscore ross at iea dash llc dot com.

That’s underscore, underscore the line at the bottom.

Then this little symbol, @, is “at” like the word “at.”

Next, “dash” also called “hyphen”, looks like this: jon-ross.

And if the dot is in the name, like jon.ross, it’s still “dot.”

Checking you have the right email address

So, you’re potential client has given you their email address. Great! You can send your brochure to them! But first, check that you noted everything correctly.

Start by saying “Thanks. Can I read that back to you to be sure?”
And then continuing to read, using the International Spelling Alphabet that you learned earlier.

Like this:
Geraldine: “Sure, I can send you the information. What’s your email address, please?”
Christina: “It’s freight@bimson-inc.com”
Geraldine: “freight@bimson-inc.com. Thanks. Can I read that back to you to be sure?”
Christina: “Go ahead”
Geraldine: “That’s F as in Foxtrot, R, E as in India…”
Christina: “No, F-R-E as in echo”
Geraldine: “Sorry, E as in echo, I as in Alpha…”
Christina:  “No, I as in India.”
Geraldine: “F-R-E-I-G as in Golf, H as in Hotel, T, at bimson-inc.com, is that right?”
Christina: “That’s right: Freight@bimson-inc.com”

It still takes a little extra time, but at least you’re sure you have the right email address, and that the client will get your information. And that could be the start of your next big deal!

Now, what about you?

What’s one other thing that you find difficult to do over the phone? Tell me in the comments, so I can make an episode to help you!

Need help understanding the American accent in conf calls and over the phone? Get my American Accent Survival kit. It’s a free comprehension & pronunciation lesson, with exercises to test yourself. Just click the image below! Thanks for watching Speak English with Christina, and I’ll see you next time!

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