How to Pronounce Been, Bean, and Being

Oct 19, 2020

How to Pronounce Been, Bean, and Being

10/19/2020

Been, bean, and being sound so similar, and they look similar when someone pronounces them! But there are 4 ways in which these words are different: length, intonation, syllable count, and the vowel and consonant sounds. Perfect your American accent and learn the tricks to pronouncing been, bean, and being like a native speaker!

(Video Transcript)

 

Hi, I’m Julie with San Diego Voice and Accent, and in this video, you’ll learn how to pronounce been, bean, and being.

 

I love receiving requests from my viewers about which words they need help pronouncing. One viewer asked for help with the words bean and being, which I thought was a great idea for a video. I wanted to add in another word, been, since I often hear this word mispronounced by many of my accent clients.

 

Been, bean, being: Listening quiz

First, let’s do a quick listening quiz. There will be four questions. Take out a piece of paper and write down these three words. I’m going to say them a few times, and I want you to listen for something different each time I say them. Write down your answers, and then at the end, we’ll review the answers together.

 

Question number one: I’m going to say all three words, and I want you to listen for the length of each word. Which word is the longest? 

 

Been

 

Bean

 

Being




Been

 

Bean

 

Being



Question number two: I’ll say them again, and I want you to listen to the pitch of my voice. What does my voice sound like when I say each word? 

 

Been

 

Bean

 

Being




Been

 

Bean

 

Being




Question number three: I want you to listen for the syllable count. How many syllables does each word have?

 

Been

 

Bean

 

Being




Been

 

Bean

 

Being



And question number four: Which vowels and consonants do you hear in each word?

 

Been

 

Bean

 

Being




Been

 

Bean

 

Being



Answers to the listening quiz

Here are the answers. Question number one: Which word is the longest? 

 

Being is the longest word. Being

 

Question number two: What does the pitch of my voice sound like when I say each word? The pitch of my voice had this shape for the word been. It went down at the end, slightly, and it was said quickly. 

 

Then the pitch of my voice had this shape for the word bean. It still went down at the end, but the downward slope was greater, and the descent was a longer duration. 

 

Then the pitch of my voice had this shape for the word being. Again, it went down at the end, but notice how the downward motion of my pitch had a step shape, which is very different from the previous two words. Been and bean were smooth, but being had an abrupt step change.



Question number three: How many syllables does each word have? Been and bean both have one syllable. Been. Bean.

 

Being has two syllables. Being, being, and you should notice how the pitch of my voice steps down on the second syllable. Being



And question number four: Which vowels and consonants do you hear in each word? Been has the IH like in bit vowel, then it ends with the N consonant. Been.

 

Bean and being both use the EE as in see vowel, but bean ends with the N consonant, and being ends with the NG consonant. Bean. Being.

 

Been, bean, being: Up close and in slow motion

Let’s look at each word up close and in slow motion. 

 

Now you’ll see all three words side by side. Been is on the left, bean is in the middle, and being is on the right. Being will be the longest of all three words.

 

All three words begin with the B consonant. Then for the vowel, been uses the IH as in bit vowel, and bean and being both use the EE as in see vowel. Notice the difference in lip and jaw placement - been has more neutral lips and a slightly lower jaw, and bean and being both have lips that are spread out and a more closed jaw. Next, both been and bean have a final N consonant, but being has an extra syllable, the IH like in bit vowel, then the NG consonant. 

 

Sometimes you may also hear native speakers pronounce been as been /bɛn/, with the EH like in red vowel. 

 

“How’ve you been?”

 

“I’ve been OK.”

 

But using the IH like in bit vowel is much more common. 



I hope this video helped you with your pronunciation of been, bean, and being. Thanks for watching, and let me know how I can help you perfect your English pronunciation!