How to Pronounce Ben, Been and Bean in American English like a Native Speaker

As you probably already realize, English can be a difficult language to spell and pronounce sometimes. Don’t worry! Even native American English speakers sometimes have trouble understanding other Americans from different parts of the United States.


In this English tip Gabby provides a few helpful hints to remember when you are trying to understand what people are saying, and also so that you will be able to pronounce them correctly so that you can be easily understood. There are few things as frustrating as asking somebody to repeat what they said, over and over again. It’s the same is somebody has to keep asking you to repeat what you said until they can understand you.





Episode transcript below:


Well, hello there.

How are you today?

Welcome to Go Natural English.

This is a quick English tip.

I have a question from a Go Natural English audience member, Ynigo.

Ynigo asks, “What is the difference in pronunciation between the words “b-e-n” and “b-e-e-n?” And “b-e-a-n?”

That’s a great question.

I love pronunciation questions so I’m excited to answer this one.

And you know what? I have another bonus tip for you besides explaining the difference between these three words which is a wonderful question.

It’s very detailed though, and I’d like us to think big picture about language learning so, my suggestion – my big picture suggestion – is that you expose yourself to as much English as possible.

That way, your brain will start recognizing patterns, and recognizing when you hear words that might be spelled the same, or you might think they’re the same, but they’re just not.

Your brain kind of goes “ooh – ding.”

That’s different, so I’m going to remember, and your brain also recognizes the patterns.

It’s another light bulb moment if you listen to a lot of English.

So, keep watching Go Natural English on YouTube, and listen to Go Natural English five times a week on the podcast – on iTunes for ios, and on Stitcher for your Android device.

So, you can get a ton of English that way and if you want more – if you want more practice and support as well, you can join the Go Natural English premium course at

Now, what is the difference between “ben” like “Big Ben” you know the big clock tower in London, the historical landmark, “Big Ben.”

I remember when I had a spelling test in 2nd grade and the teacher asked me to spell “ben” in front of the whole class and I said “b-e-n” because I was thinking about Big Ben – of course.

Well, I was wrong, and I was told to sit down in front of the whole class because “you can’t spell.”

No, my teacher didn’t say that.

She wasn’t mean.

She was very nice, but I felt really bad because you can totally spell ben “b-e-n”, but it’s not what she meant

She just didn’t explain that.

Clearly I’m still upset about this – joking.

So, “ben”, the way my teacher in 2nd grade meant it was “b-e-e-n”, the verb.

For example, “I have been to Paris.”

So, “I have been doing many exciting things. I have been traveling a lot these days.”

So, you use “been” as part of your verb, or a participle.

That is “b-e-e-n.”

So, to answer your question Ynigo, it is not the same as “b-e-a-n.”

That word is a food that you eat and it’s called “bean.”

I actually love to eat beans they’re very healthy, and helpful.

So, “bean” is an “ee” sound – “bean” – similar to “seat.”

“You went to sit on a seat.”

I have another video about that very example, but “bean” is different – it’s a food – “bean” not “been.”

So remember, when using the verb, think about “Big Ben” in London, or think about the number ten.

It sounds the same, and when you think about “bean”, perhaps associate it with something like a seat.

You need to have a “seat” to “eat” your “beans.”

Mmmmmm, I like that connection.

If you like learning this way, the natural way, with me at Go Natural English, come to

I’ll share a free eBook with you and you can find out about the premium course to learn better, faster, more fluent English.

Thanks so much for watching and I’ll talk to you again real soon.

Bye for now.

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