Category Archives: Speaking

Hey! 1 Word 50 Shades of Meaning


In English, how you say things can be as important as what you say.

Pronunciation is not just about how we say the individual sounds in words. When we speak the pitch (highness and lowness) and intonation (changes in pitch) of our voices also help us express a wide variety of emotions and allows us to perform different actions (e.g, make offers, get attention, ask for things politely). Stress, volume, rhythm and other factors also help us to convey meaning when we speak.

This is true even when a speaker is saying just one word. Take the word “hey.”

Look at the following four examples and see if you can tell (=understand) the differences in meaning:





It’s probably hard to understand the differences without having the word presented within a specific context or hearing the word spoken.

Yahoo created a very clever video, “50 Shades of Hey,” that shows us just how important these different pronunciation factors are. Watch the video and then take the quiz to see if you can identify the different meanings of this word.

Pretty amazing how many different emotions and expressions can be conveyed with just one word, isn’t it?

Here’s a short quiz to see if you can identify some of these emotions, expressions and actions. There is a screenshot for each question so you will need to look at the video again. Either play and stop the video at the time noted in the question [in parenthesis] or jump directly to the point in the video by moving your cursor to the right point on the scrub bar (see screenshot below). Click on the bar until you get the right time and pause the video when you need to.


Okay ready for the quiz?

NOTE: You will have to scroll up and down between the video above and the questions to take the quiz.


[this is at the 0:12 second mark]

1.  He is expressing ______________________________________ .

a.  expectation
b.  surprise
c.  frustration
d.  hope


2.  [This is at the 0:16 second mark]

Which word best describes the speaker’s emotion?

a.  hatred
b.  annoyance
c.  grief
d.  rudeness

Continue reading