You’re about to learn how to say email addresses and websites in English — the right way. While you’re here, also check out Different Ways to Ask and Tell the Time in English.
Some things in English are more difficult than you think.
If I had a euro for every time I’ve heard an advanced English learner have problems with saying an email address or a website, I’d have … well … over 40 euros.
OK. That’s not a lot of money, but it’s definitely a lot of times for high-level English learners to get such a simple thing wrong.
In this crazy, fast-paced, digitally driven, twenty-first century world, we really need to be able to talk about email addresses and websites clearly and accurately.
So let’s take a look at this simple but important use of English.
Talking about email addresses
How to say email addresses
OK. Here’s my email address:
So let’s look at the symbols.
Remember — don’t say “point” or “stop.”
The funny @ symbol? That’s pleasingly called “at.”
So how do we say it?
Usually we just say the full words:
Because most people know the main Top Level Domains (you know, “com,” “net,” “org,” etc.), you can just read them out as words: “dot com,” “dot org,” etc.
But I’ve noticed that when it comes to most national TLDs (“.au,” “.bg,” “.tl,” etc.) it’s best to spell them out.
I guess that’s because it’s pretty difficult to say “bd” or “tp” as a word. Go on — try it!
How to ask for someone’s email address
An email address is personal information, so I’m always a little careful when I ask someone for it.
As a result, I tend to use softer (more polite) language.
“Could I get your email address?”
“Would you mind telling me your email address?”
“Could you tell me your email address?”
If you want to be super polite, just add a “please” to any of these.
Special tip: For some reason, it sounds kind of strange to say “please” at the beginning of the request. It sounds a bit desperate.
Put it at the end!
Talking about website addresses
How to say website addresses
Saying a website address is pretty similar to saying an email address.
We still say “dot” (not “point” or “stop”).
And we still say “dot com” or “dot org” or “dot whatever” (that one’s very popular).
But what about the bits in a website that you don’t see in an email address?
Here’s the full link to our blog page:
OK. There’s a lot there. But the good news is that you can just ignore almost all of it.
The “https://” bit? Don’t bother.
The “www” bit? Don’t bother.
The “/” bit? That’s useful. This symbol is called a “forward slash.”
And you know the rest:
So it’s “clark and miller dot com forward slash blog.”
But sometimes we might need to say “https://” and “www.”
So how do we do that?
Let’s start with the “https://”
There are two main parts of this: the letters and the symbols.
For the letters, just say them individually.
The “:” is a colon.
And we already know the “/.”
So we say:
And what about the “www”?
Interestingly, when we do say it, we actually say each letter individually — “double-u, double-u, double-u” — which takes ages. That’s nine syllables.
WWW actually stands for “world wide web.” That’s three syllables.
Humans can be pretty dumb sometimes.
Except for the smart New Zealanders. They just say “dub, dub, dub.” Nice, right?
How to ask for a website address
Technically, the website address is called a “URL” (short for Uniform Resource Locator. Yep, that’s news to me, too). So you could just ask “What’s the URL?”
But most people wouldn’t.
You’re more likely to hear:
“What’s the web address?”
“What’s the website address?”
“Can I get the website address?”
Or any combination of these.
Extra stuff about websites and emails
Of course not everyone’s email address and website address is as slick and beautiful as mine.
Symbols in email and website addresses
Some have all sorts of weird symbols.
So let’s take a look at some of the most common ones:
One word or two?
This is very common for passwords, but it’s also useful for websites and email addresses.
Let’s say your name is Isabel Reznor and your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, when you’re telling someone your email address, you want to make sure you’re reading it so that there’s no doubt.
You don’t want them to write email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
So here’s a neat trick. When you read out the first part of the email address, just clarify it with “all one word.”
“Isabelreznor — all one word — at spiral dot com.”
Simple, easy and efficient.
Big letters or small letters?
OK. This one isn’t particularly useful for email addresses, but is really useful for passwords (think about when you’re asking that busy waiter for the cafe’s Wi-Fi password).
Do you ever read an active Facebook thread about some sort of sensitive political issue?
Have you noticed that there’s always that guy WHO WRITES ALL HIS COMMENTS LIKE THIS AS IF HE’S SHOUTING AT EVERYONE BECAUSE HE BELIEVES THAT IF HE DOES HIS POINT WILL SOMEHOW BECOME MORE VALID? (And it usually is a guy.)
Well, let’s describe what he’s doing (apart from being a terrible internet user).
He’s writing everything in capitals or upper-case letters.
The opposite of upper-case is — surprisingly — lower-case.
Most emails are written in lower case, but if we want to check that we can ask:
“Lower case or upper case?”
“That’s all lower case, right?”
“Any upper-case letters?”
OK. So now next time someone asks you for your email address, you’ll have no problem, right?
And hopefully you’ll confidently be able to read out, over the phone, the address of that excellent website about the Star Wars droids.
Have I missed anything?
I bet I’ve missed something.
If I have, let me know in the comments!
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