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.

1. 1-hey-0-12

[this is at the 0:12 second mark]

He is expressing ______________________________________ .


2. 2-hey-0-16

[This is at the 0:16 second mark]

Which word best describes the speaker’s emotion?


3. 3-hey-0-18

[this is at the 0:18 mark]

Which of the following doesn’t the speaker express?


4. 5-hey-0-23

Which prefix can you add to describe his emotion?



5. 6-hey-0-40

He speaks in a way that conveys:


6. 7-hey-1-01

Does the pitch (highness or lowness) of his voice change or stay the same?


7. 8-hey-1-03

The speaker expresses all of these emotions (check all that apply)


8. 10-hey-1-17

Sometimes we lower the pitch to the very lowest part of the normal speaking range and pronounce the words in a softer voice as in this example to express feelings such as  ______________________.


9. hey-1-21

To signal a question, a speaker normally uses a  ____________________ pitch, as seen in the first “hey” in this example.


10. 11-hey-1-30

The abrupt change in intonation from ________________ signals annoyance here.


11. 12-hey-1-37

As seen here, falling intonation sounds more__________________ than rising intonation. (check all answers that are correct).


12. 13-hey-1-41

Intonation does not just rise and fall. There are different degrees of pitch, so the range of intonation can also change. In this example, there is a __________ fall in intonation. The syllable on which this is pronounced is also louder and pronounced with greater stress. The result is a lively greeting or exclamation.



8 thoughts on “Hey! 1 Word 50 Shades of Meaning

      1. zineb

        thank you teatcher i did the quiz without hearing the video i have a problem in my computer i could be better


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