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Language tip of the week: speaking with difficulty

Learn English with Macmillan DictionaryIn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of language tips to accompany the Real Vocabulary theme we look at how you can expand your vocabulary in English by using different words and expressions instead of core vocabulary items.

This week’s tip looks at words and phrases you can use to talk about someone speaking with difficulty.

stammer or stutter to keep repeating a sound and have difficulty saying certain words, for example because you have a speech problem or because you are nervous or excited:
‘I’ve got to go now’, he stammered, and collided with the furniture on the way out. ♦ Nina, blushing with embarrassment, began to stammer. ♦ Richard stuttered a reply and sat down, his face red. ♦ ‘Wh – what’s happened?’ she stammered.
People who stammer or  stutter a lot are said to have a speech impediment.
splutter to speak while making sounds as if you cannot breather or swallow normally, especially when you are very angry or amused:
That’s £30!’ I spluttered. ‘No way am I paying that. ♦ The book will leave you splutttering with laughter. 
slur to speak without pronouncing the words clearly or separately, for example because you are tired, ill or drunk:
She was slurring her words and holding on to the bar. ♦ Slurred speech can be a sign of a stroke.

Did you know that Macmillan Dictionary includes a full thesaurus? This page lists more verbs and phrases for the ways in which people pronounce things.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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