How to correctly pronounce word "can" in British English and in American English?

Here's somehow related answer but it is more about differences between "can" and "can't", and I'm interested how to pronounce "can" in American English and in British English.

  • Have a look at this site
    – Jim
    Apr 17, 2012 at 7:53
  • Thanks! Cool site... but there's no samples from Great Britain :( Apr 17, 2012 at 7:57
  • 1
    Also, many of those may be pronunciations for can as in soda can rather than the verb can. If you look at the related question linked above, it says that in American dialects, the verb can rhymes with men. But the noun can usually rhymes with man. Apr 17, 2012 at 16:19

4 Answers 4


From the OED (British pronunciation):


From Merriam-Webster (American pronunciation):

\kən, ˈkan also ˈken; dialect ˈkin\

Here is an IPA reference, in case you are unfamiliar with the symbols used.


To me the AE pronuciation allows more sound to the "e" whereas as a BE speaker I would pronounce hardly any "e" sound and it would sound shorter, more like "kan" such that it ryhmes with the word "pan"


I speak American English. I hope it's not discouraging to you to hear, Dmitry, but "can" is an extremely common word and the pronunciation changes in subtle ways according to the context it's used in.

In American English "can" is often shortened and pronounced as kn with the vowel of ə or ɪ being mostly hummed during the n sound.

Other times when there's more emphasis being given, the vowel might shift to a longer and very nasally æ.


I'm from California and how I personally say the words is can is pronounced the same as the name Ken whereas can't is pronounced like how most people say can and the "t" isn't pronounced.

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