This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index
You are in: Home > Grammar, Vocabulary & Pronunciation
Ask about English
Pham Thanh Loan from Vietnam:
Symbol names

Pham Thanh Loan from VietnamHow to read the word '@' used in the email address?

Pham Thanh Loan

Listen and download
Real      mp3 (705 K)      Transcript (50 K)
Catherine Chapman answers:
Catherine Chapman Nice question! OK, well I tell you what, let’s take the email address of BBC Learning English as an example of how we pronounce this symbol. We need to look at the difference between telling and spelling.

If you’re telling someone the email address, it’s easy, you say: learning dot English at bbc dot co dot uk. So the way we tell someone this symbol is we say at.

But, when people are spelling an email address, they sometimes use the name of the symbol and it has quite a few different names; people call it arroba or commercial at; they also call it the at sign and sometimes the at symbol.

So, if you want to spell our email address, you do it like this: l – e – a – r – n – i – n – g – dot- e – n – g – l – i – s – h – arroba – b – b – c – dot – c – o – dot – u – k.

Now there’s lots more symbols like this, and if you go to our website, Ask about English on, you’ll find that we’ve listed quite a few of them for you and I’m going to read them out now.

, comma

‘ apostrophe

" " speech marks or inverted commas or quotation marks

& ampersand

+ plus sign

- minus sign

-> arrow

© copyright sign

? question mark

# number symbol or hash symbol or hash sign

( ) brackets

( open brackets

) close brackets or closed brackets

_ underscore

: colon

; semicolon

/ forward slash

\ backslash

So thanks again for your question and I hope that helps!

About Catherine Chapman
Catherine Chapman has a BA (hons) in Communication Studies, CTEFLA, DELTA and a Masters Degree in Educational Technology and English Language Teaching with Manchester University (UK). She has taught EFL, EAP and IT skills in several countries, worked in ELT management and has developed web-based ELT/EAP materials projects in institutions including Istanbul Technical University (Turkey) and Newcastle University (UK). She now works as an ELT Writer for BBC Learning English.