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Best Practices for Sample Utterances and Custom Slot Type Values

The usability of the skill directly depends on how well the sample utterances and custom slot values represent real-world language use.

Building a representative set of custom values and sample utterances is an important process and one that requires iteration. During development and testing, try using many different phrases to invoke each intent. If you can observe other users during testing, note the phrases that they speak to invoke each intent. Continually update the custom values and sample utterances file to ensure that it includes instances of your users' most common phrasings.

The following sections provide recommendations for developing your set of sample utterances.

Sample Utterance Phrasing

Given the flexibility and variation of spoken language in the real world, there will often be many different ways to express the same request. For example, to ask for a horoscope a user might say:

  • what is the horoscope
  • get me my horoscope
  • tell me the horoscope
  • how's my horoscope today

Or any other variations on the above forms:

  • "what's" and "what is"
  • "get", "tell", and "give"
  • "my" and "the"

If you have requests that are full sentences, think about shortened ways that users might say them, especially when combined with the Ask/Tell starting phrases, with patterns like Ask…to… and Ask…about…. For instance, if you have "what's the weather," consider also just "weather". This works well with patterns such as "Ask <invocation name> for weather." or "Ask <invocation name> about weather".

Providing these different phrases in your sample utterances will help improve voice recognition for the abilities you add to Alexa. It is important to include as wide a range of representative samples as you can -– all the phrases that you can think of that are possible in use (though do not include samples that users will never speak). Alexa also attempts to generalize based on the samples you provide to interpret spoken phrases that differ in minor ways from the samples specified.

Given the flexibility and variation of spoken language in the real world, there will often be many different ways to express the same request. For example, to ask for a horoscope a user might say:

  • quel est l'horoscope
  • quel est mon horoscope
  • quel est l'horoscope aujourd'hui
  • quel est mon horoscope aujourd'hui
  • donne moi l'horoscope
  • donne moi l'horoscope du jour
  • dis moi l'horoscope
  • dis moi l'horoscope du jour

Or any other variations on the above forms:

  • "aujourd'hui" and "du jour"
  • "dis", "dis moi", "dites moi"
  • "mon" et "l'"

If you have requests that are full sentences, think about shortened ways that users might say them, especially when combined with the Ask/Tell starting phrases, with patterns like Demande à…quel est… and Demande à…. For instance, if you have "quelle est la météo," consider also just "la météo". This works well with patterns such as "Demande à<invocation name> la météo." or "Demande à<invocation name> quelle est la météo".

Providing these different phrases in your sample utterances will help improve voice recognition for the abilities you add to Alexa. It is important to include as wide a range of representative samples as you can -– all the phrases that you can think of that are possible in use (though do not include samples that users will never speak). Alexa also attempts to generalize based on the samples you provide to interpret spoken phrases that differ in minor ways from the samples specified.

Given the flexibility and variation of spoken language in the real world, there will often be many different ways to express the same request. For example, to ask for a horoscope a user might say:

  • qual è l'oroscopo
  • qual è il mio oroscopo
  • dammi il mio oroscopo
  • dimmi l'oroscopo
  • com'è il mio oroscopo oggi
  • ….

Or any other variations on the above forms:

  • "oggi", "del giorno" and "giornaliero"
  • "dire", and "dare"
  • "il mio" and "l'"

If you have requests that are full sentences, think about shortened ways that users might say them. For instance, if you have "Com'è il tempo," consider also just "il tempo".

Providing these different phrases in your sample utterances will help improve voice recognition for the abilities you add to Alexa. It is important to include as wide a range of representative samples as you can -– all the phrases that you can think of that are possible in use (though do not include samples that users will never speak). Alexa also attempts to generalize based on the samples you provide to interpret spoken phrases that differ in minor ways from the samples specified.

Given the flexibility and variation of spoken language in the real world, there will often be many different ways to express the same request. For example, to ask for a horoscope a user might say:

  • cuál es el horóscopo
  • dame mi horóscopo
  • dime el horóscopo

Or any other variations on the above forms:

  • "cuál es" y "qué"
  • "obtén", "di", y "da"
  • "obtenme", "dime", y "dame"
  • "mi/mis" y "el/la/los/las"

If you have requests that are full sentences, think about shortened ways that users might say them, especially when combined with the Ask/Tell starting phrases, with patterns like pídele a…por… and pregúntale a…sobre…. For instance, if you have "cuál es el tiempo," consider also just "el tiempo". This works well with patterns such as "Pídele a <nombre invocación> por el tiempo." or "Pregúntale a <nombre de invocación> sobre el tiempo".

Providing these different phrases in your sample utterances will help improve voice recognition for the abilities you add to Alexa. It is important to include as wide a range of representative samples as you can -– all the phrases that you can think of that are possible in use (though do not include samples that users will never speak). Alexa also attempts to generalize based on the samples you provide to interpret spoken phrases that differ in minor ways from the samples specified.

Given the flexibility and variation of spoken language in the real world, there will often be many different ways to express the same request. For example, to ask for a horoscope a user might say:

  • cuál es el horóscopo
  • obtén mi horóscopo
  • dime el horóscopo
  • qué dice mi horóscopo hoy

Or any other variations on the above forms:

  • "di", and "da"
  • "obténme", and "dame"
  • "mi/ mis" and "el/ los"

If you have requests that are full sentences, think about shortened ways that users might say them, especially when combined with the Pregunta/Pide starting phrases, with patterns like Pide a…por… and Pregunta a…por…. For instance, if you have "cuál es el horóscopo," consider also just "horóscopo". This works well with patterns such as "Pregunta a <invocation name> por horóscopo." or "Pide a <invocation name> sobre horóscopo".

Providing these different phrases in your sample utterances will help improve voice recognition for the abilities you add to Alexa. It is important to include as wide a range of representative samples as you can -– all the phrases that you can think of that are possible in use (though do not include samples that users will never speak). Alexa also attempts to generalize based on the samples you provide to interpret spoken phrases that differ in minor ways from the samples specified.

Sample Utterances for Starting a Conversation

The preferred phrases for beginning an interaction with an Alexa ability are ask and tell. These can be used to ask questions or state commands in a very natural way. Your sample utterances should flow naturally when combined with these phrases.

For example, users might say one of the following to request a horoscope:

  • "Alexa, ask Daily Horoscopes for the horoscope for Gemini"
  • "Alexa, ask Daily Horoscopes about Gemini"
  • "Alexa, ask Daily Horoscopes what is the horoscope for Gemini"
  • "Alexa, ask Daily Horoscopes what's the horoscope for Gemini"
  • "Alexa, ask Daily Horoscopes to give me the horoscope for Gemini"
  • "Alexa, ask Daily Horoscopes to tell me the horoscope for Gemini"

Note the different forms of the sample utterances that work effectively with different variations of "ask":

  • Noun utterances:
    • "the horoscope for…"
    • "Gemini"
  • Question utterances:
    • "what is the horoscope for…"
    • "what's the horoscope for…"
  • Verb utterances:
    • "give me the horoscope for"
    • "tell me the horoscope for…"

In the syntax of the sample utterances, these would be specified as follows:

the horoscope for {Sign}
{Sign}
what's the horoscope for {Sign}
what is the horoscope for {Sign}
give me the horoscope for {Sign}
tell me the horoscope for {Sign}
...

Utterances that begin with specific question words ("what", "how", "where", and so on) are especially important, as these work with the "ask <invocation name> question" variation. The following words are considered question words that work with ask:

  • who, what, why, when, where, which, how
  • do, did, does
  • can, could, should, would, may, must, shall
  • is, was, will, am, are, were
  • have, has, had
  • Some variants of the above, such as: what's, whose, didn't, ain't

When writing utterances as questions, also consider multiple forms of the question. For example:

  • "what is my horoscope". ("Alexa, ask Daily Horoscopes what is my horoscope")
  • "what my horoscope is" ("Alexa, ask Daily Horoscopes what my horoscope is")

Not all of these question words may work well for all Alexa capabilities, but you should include utterances for these words when they represent real-world language use. For the full list of phrases users can say to begin interacting with your Alexa skill, see Understanding How Users Invoke Custom Skills. Include utterances that work naturally with as many of these phrases as possible.

The preferred phrases for beginning an interaction with an Alexa ability are demande and dis. These can be used to ask questions or state commands in a very natural way. Your sample utterances should flow naturally when combined with these phrases.

For example, users might say one of the following to request a horoscope from "signe astrologique" skill:

  • "Alexa, demande à signe astrologique de me donner l'horoscope des verseaux"
  • "Alexa, demande à signe astrologique quel est l'horoscope des verseaux"
  • "Alexa, demande à signe astrologique l'horoscope des verseaux"
  • "Alexa, demande à signe astrologique verseaux"
  • "Alexa, demande à signe astrologique d' écouter l'horsocope des verseaux"
  • "Alexa, lance signe astrologique pour verseaux"
  • "Alexa, ouvre signe astrologique et donne moi l'horoscope des verseaux"

Note the different forms of the sample utterances that work effectively with different variations of "demande à":

  • Noun utterances:
    • "l'horoscope des…"
    • "Verseaux"
  • Question utterances:
    • "quel est l'horoscope des…"
  • Verb utterances:
    • "donne moi l'horoscope des…"
    • "écouter l'horoscope des…"

In the syntax of the sample utterances, these would be specified as follows:

GetHoroscope l'horoscope des {Sign}
GetHoroscope {Sign}
GetHoroscope quel est l'horoscope des {Sign}
GetHoroscope dis moi l'horoscope des {Sign}
GetHoroscope écouter l'horoscope des {Sign}
GetHoroscope me donner l'horoscope des {Sign}
...

Utterances that begin with specific question words ("quel", "quelle", "où", "de" and so on) are especially important, as these work with the "demande à <invocation name> question" variation. The following words are considered question words that work with demande à:

  • et
  • pour
  • de

When writing utterances as questions, also consider multiple forms of the question. For example:

  • "quel est mon horoscope". ("Alexa, demande à signe astrologique quel est mon horoscope")
  • "l'horoscope des…" ("Alexa, demande à signe astrologique l'horoscope des…")

Not all of these question words may work well for all Alexa capabilities, but you should include utterances for these words when they represent real-world language use. For the full list of phrases users can say to begin interacting with your Alexa skill, see Understanding How Users Invoke Custom Skills. Include utterances that work naturally with as many of these phrases as possible.

The preferred phrases for beginning an interaction with an Alexa ability are chiedi a and domanda a. These can be used to ask questions or state commands in a very natural way. Your sample utterances should flow naturally when combined with these phrases.

For example, users might say one of the following to request a horoscope:

  • "Alexa, chiedi a Oroscopo del Giorno se può darmi l'oroscopo dei Gemelli"
  • "Alexa, domanda a Oroscopo del Giorno se può dirmi l'oroscopo del Toro"
  • "Alexa, chiedi a Oroscopo del Giorno l'oroscopo del Sagittario"
  • "Alexa, domanda a Oroscopo del Giorno l'oroscopo dei Pesci"
  • "…"

Note the sample utterances that work effectively with "chiedi a" and "domanda a":

  • Verb utterances:
    • "darmi l'oroscopo di…"
    • "dirmi l'oroscopo di…"

Noun phrases: phrases that can follow

"chiedi a <invocation name> …" or
"domanda a <invocation name> …"

  • "chiedi a <invocation name> il mio colore preferito"
  • "domanda a <invocation name> l'ora del mio appuntamento"

Questions: phrases that can follow

"chiedi a <invocation name> …" or "domanda a <invocation name> …"

  • "chiedi a <invocation name> dov'è la mia macchina" "domanda a <invocation name> dov'è la mia macchina"

In the syntax of the sample utterances, these would be specified as follows:

darmi l'oroscopo del {Segno}
{Segno}
darmi l'oroscopo dei {Segno}
dirmi l'oroscopo del {Segno}
dirmi l'oroscopo dei {Segno}
...

For the full list of phrases users can say to begin interacting with your Alexa skill, see Understanding How Users Invoke Custom Skills. Include utterances that work naturally with as many of these phrases as possible.

The preferred phrases for beginning an interaction with an Alexa ability are preguntale a and dile a. These can be used to ask questions or state commands in a very natural way. Your sample utterances should flow naturally when combined with these phrases.

For example, users might say one of the following to request a horoscope:

  • "Alexa, pregúntale a Horóscopo Diario por el horóscopo de Géminis"
  • "Alexa, pregúntale a Horóscopo Diario sobre Géminis"
  • "Alexa, pregúntale a Horóscopo Diario cuál es el horóscopo de Géminis"
  • "Alexa, pregúntale a Horóscopo Diario cuál es el horóscopo para Géminis"
  • "Alexa, pregúntale a Horóscopo Diario que me de el horóscopo de Géminis"
  • "Alexa, pregúntale a Horóscopo Diario que me diga el horóscopo para Géminis"

Note the different forms of the sample utterances that work effectively with different variations of "ask":

  • Noun utterances:
    • "el horóscopo de…"
    • "Géminis"
  • Question utterances:
    • "cuál es el horóscopo de…"
    • "cuál es el horóscopo para…"
  • Verb utterances:
    • "dame el horóscopo de"
    • "dime el horóscopo de…"

In the syntax of the sample utterances, these would be specified as follows:

el horóscopo de {Signo}
{Signo}
cuál es el horóscopo de {Signo}
cuál es el horóscopo para {Signo}
dame el horóscopo de {Signo}
dime el horóscopo para {Signo}
...

Utterances that begin with specific question words ("qué", "cómo", "dónde", etc.) are especially important, as these work with the "pregúntale a <invocation name> question" variation. The following words are considered question words that work with pregúntale a:

  • quién, qué, por qué, cuándo, dónde, cuál, cómo, etc.
  • hacer, hizo, haría, etc.
  • puede, pudo, podría, etc.
  • es, era, fue, sera, sería, etc.
  • tiene, tuvo, tendría, tendrá, etc.

When writing utterances as questions, also consider multiple forms of the question. For example:

  • "cuál es mi horóscopo". ("Alexa, pregúntale a Horóscopo Diario cuál es mi horóscopo")
  • "qué horóscopo tengo" ("Alexa, pregúntale a Horóscopo Diario qué horóscopo tengo")

Not all of these question words may work well for all Alexa capabilities, but you should include utterances for these words when they represent real-world language use. For the full list of phrases users can say to begin interacting with your Alexa skill, see Understanding How Users Invoke Custom Skills. Include utterances that work naturally with as many of these phrases as possible.

The preferred phrases for beginning an interaction with an Alexa ability are different variations of ask: preguntale a, pregunta a, pídele a and pide a. These can be used to ask questions or state commands in a very natural way. Your sample utterances should flow naturally when combined with these phrases.

For example, users might say one of the following to request a horoscope:

  • "Alexa, pídele a* Horóscopo Diario que diga el horóscopo de Géminis"
  • "Alexa, pide a Horóscopo Diario que dé información sobre Géminis"
  • "Alexa, pregúntale a Horóscopo Diario cuál es el horóscopo de Géminis"
  • "Alexa, pregunta a Horóscopo Diario qué dice el horóscopo de Géminis"
  • "Alexa, pídele a Horóscopo Diario que me dé el horóscopo de Géminis"
  • "Alexa, pide a Horóscopo Diario que me diga el horóscopo para Géminis"

Note the different forms of the sample utterances that work effectively with different variations of "ask":

  • Question utterances:
    • "cuál es el horóscopo de…"
    • "qué dice el horóscopo de…"
  • Verb utterances:
    • "dé el horóscopo de"
    • "diga el horóscopo de…"

In the syntax of the sample utterances, these would be specified as follows:

el horóscopo de {Signo}
{Signo}
cuál es el horóscopo de {Signo}
qué dice el horóscopo de {Signo}
me dé el horóscopo de {Signo}
me diga el horóscopo para {Signo}
...

Utterances that begin with specific question words ("qué", "cómo", "dónde", etc.) are especially important, as these work with the "pregúntale a or pregunta a <invocation name> question" variation. The following words are considered question words that work with pregúntale a or pregunta a:

  • quién, qué, por qué, cuándo, dónde, cuál, cómo
  • hacer, hago, haces, hiciste, haría, harías
  • puedo, puedes, puede, pudiste, podría, podrías
  • es, estoy, estás, estaba, fue, era, sería, será
  • tienes, tengo, tuve, tuviste, tenías, tendrías, tendrás

When writing utterances as questions, also consider multiple forms of the question. For example:

  • "cuál es mi horóscopo". ("Alexa, pregúntale a Horóscopo Diario cuál es mi horóscopo")
  • "qué horóscopo tengo" ("Alexa, pregunta a Horóscopo Diario qué horóscopo tengo")

Not all of these question words may work well for all Alexa capabilities, but you should include utterances for these words when they represent real-world language use. For the full list of phrases users can say to begin interacting with your Alexa skill, see Understanding How Users Invoke Custom Skills. Include utterances that work naturally with as many of these phrases as possible.

Number of Sample Utterances

For each intent, include as many variations of the phrases as you expect users to speak. For example, for the utterance "what is my horoscope", include variations such as:

  • "what is…"
  • "what's…"
  • "tell me…"
  • "give…"
  • "give me…"
  • "get…"
  • "get me…"
  • "find…"
  • "find me…"

It is better to provide too many samples than to provide too few, so test different phrases and add additional phrases as needed.

For each intent, include as many variations of the phrases as you expect users to speak. For example, for the utterance "quel est mon horoscope", include variations such as:

  • "quel est…"
  • "donne…"
  • "donne moi…"
  • "dis…"
  • "dis moi…"
  • "dis, quel est…"
  • "dis moi, quel est…"
  • "trouve…"
  • "trouve moi…"

It is better to provide too many samples than to provide too few, so test different phrases and add additional phrases as needed.

For each intent, include as many variations of the phrases as you expect users to speak. For example, for the utterance "qual è il mio oroscopo", include variations such as:

  • "qual è…"
  • "dimmi…"
  • "dai…"
  • "dammi…"
  • "cerca…"
  • "trovare…"

It is better to provide too many samples than to provide too few, so test different phrases and add additional phrases as needed.

For each intent, include as many variations of the phrases as you expect users to speak. For example, for the utterance "cuál es mi horóscopo", include variations such as:

  • "cuál es…"
  • "da…"
  • "dame…"
  • "di…"
  • "dime…"
  • "di, cuál es…"
  • "dime, cuál es…"
  • "obtén…"
  • "obtenme…"
  • "busca…"
  • "búscame…"

It is better to provide too many samples than to provide too few, so test different phrases and add additional phrases as needed.

For each intent, include as many variations of the phrases as you expect users to speak. For example, for the utterance "what is my horoscope", include variations such as:

  • "cuál es…"
  • "qué es…"
  • "dime…"
  • "da…"
  • "dame…"
  • "obtén…"
  • "obtenme…"
  • "busca…"
  • "búscame…"

It is better to provide too many samples than to provide too few, so test different phrases and add additional phrases as needed.

Recommendations for Custom Slot Type Values

When using custom slot types, make sure the list of values provided for the slot comprehensively covers the expected input from your users. While this is relatively straightforward in the horoscopes example –- in this case the set of twelve signs is small, finite and has few or no variations in terms of how people are likely to speak each sign –- it can be more difficult as the complexity of input to a given slot increases. Tips to build representative coverage for more complex slot types include:

  • Start with data sources that reflect real usage. For instance, if you have a web version of your application that can use items you've logged from users via forms or search queries, use those. Otherwise look for other data sources representing likelihood of input.

    If you're building a list of ingredients for a recipe skill for instance, generate a list of all ingredients used in all recipes, and validate that against other lists you may be able to find online of common ingredients.

  • The total number of custom slot type values depends on the overall size of your interaction model, including the total number of slot types and values across all custom slots. If you need to scale back the number of values, be sure to keep the values most likely to be used.
  • If your list of custom values does not contain all the values your skill expects, provide a representative set of custom values with representative word counts. For instance, if values of one to four words are possible, use values of one to four words in your value list. But also be sure to distribute them proportionally. If a four-word value occurs in an estimated 10% of inputs, then include four-word values only in 10% of the values in your list.

Slot values are sent to your skill in written format. For example, both "fire h.d. 7" and "fire h.d. seven" would be sent to your skill as "Fire HD7". For better recognition, acronyms and other phrases involving spoken letters should either be all caps ("HD") or separated by periods and spaces ("h. d. "). Using lowercase for initialisms may lead to unreliable recognition since the spoken form may not correctly be detected. See examples.