One of the linguistic problems plaguing speakers of English in Nigeria is the H-factor. It is more common in the Southwestern part of the country. It is a situation in which a speaker pronounces a word without the phoneme /h/ as though it has it, and removes the phoneme /h/ when pronouncing words that obviously have it. One important thing about the H-factor is that those struggling with it cannot tell the difference between a word said with the phoneme /h/ and another one said without the phoneme /h/. To such people, ‘anger’ and ‘hanger’ are pronounced the same way.

Although, many people struggling with the H-factor do not know what they are doing wrongly when they speak, a speech that is riddled with indiscriminate realisation of the phoneme /h/ can be a deal breaker. Therefore, the following steps will come in handy in your journey to eradicating the H-factor from your speech.

Practice with Chants and Tongue Twisters: Like most issues in English pronunciation, there is no elixir that can help cure the H-factor. However, a strategic and consistent learning and practicing would rid your speech of every form of the H-factor. H dropping and wrong insertion of H in English pronunciation can be corrected with chants and tongue twisters. To do this, carefully select words that have the phoneme /h/ in them and alternate them with words that do not have /h/. Make use of words that are most likely to take H insertion. For instance,

  1. Happy apple, heavy eggs, Eight hay sack.
  2. Henry has a bottle of holy olive oil in his house.
  3. Honest Hannah has a bottle of honey in her house.

Practice saying the lines making sure to pronounce the phoneme /h/ in words that have them and try not to insert /h/ into words that do not require it.  You can start slowly and increase your pace gradually to get optimum result.

Singing: This is another potent way of dealing with the H-factor. Deliberately collect songs that have the phoneme /h/ in them and sing. While singing, take care to pronounce the words of the songs appropriately, paying attention to each sound. Also, listen to songs that are rendered in standard English and sing along. Make conscious effort to accurately repeat what you hear.

Go Slowly: If you are a fast speaker, you may need to reduce the pace of your speech until you can confidently speak without falling into the embarrassing traps of the H-factor. Taking your time to pronounce your words carefully can help here; Don’t rush.

Repetition: Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-Hour Rule holds that deliberate practice is the key to becoming world-class in any field. In the same vein, repeating the steps giving above will help achieve your goal of clear and ‘clean’ speech.

H-factor is one of the most embarrassing pronunciation challenges. And worse, most people who have it do not know. However, if you can strategically plan your learning with the information given above, your speech will be free of H-factor in due course.

More sample sentences:

  1. The half-hearted climber fell down the high hill.
  2. He took hot tea and hamburger in the afternoon.
  3. I hope she took the whole family on holidays.
  4. Henry’s horse rides on a high onyx hill.


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