Hi, My name is Andrea and this is Everyday English with E2, where we learn about English grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation every week. Remember to check out www.e2english.com for fun, high-quality courses made for English learners.
To become a fluent speaker in English you need to be able to use ‘connected speech’. And to become a better listener in English you need to be able to understand ‘connected speech’.
So what is connected speech?
Listen to the way I say this sentence:
The | meeting | is | on | a | Monday | in | August | if | you | are | able | to | join | us.
This is NOT connected speech. Here, I’ve said the sentence word by word leaving pauses between each word. This is NOT fluent English.
Now listen to the way I say this sentence:
The meeting’sonaMonda yin August if ya rable to joinus.
This is an example of connected speech, and this sounds natural in both formal and informal settings.
As you heard, there are a number of changes that take place when you move from words on a page to words spoken out loud. Put simply, spoken English is far different from how it is written. When you read English in a book or on a computer screen, you can see little white spaces between the words that show where one word ends and another word begins; but when fluent speakers say sentences out loud they link, delete, insert, modify, reduce and multiply words. These are the six keys to connected speech.
In this episode of Everyday English, I’m going to talk to you about all six of the changes that happen to spoken English – about how words transform so you can sound more fluent when speaking, and how you can understand spoken English much more easily.
Okay, let’s get started with the first connected speech key – it’s called linking.
SLOWLY READ: When native speakers ‘link’, they simply join the ending sound of the first word to the first sound of the following word.
Listen to these two separate words: SOME | OF
Now listen to the way these words link when spoken: SUMOV as in “Can I have someof your pizza?”
So listen out for ‘linking’ when you listen to spoken English and try to ‘link’ words yourself when you speak to sound more fluent.
Okay, connected speech key number 2: deletion
Deletions are when a speaker deletes or omits a certain sound. This is very common in spoken English, and it happens a lot with the letter “h”.
Listen to this sentence. Can you hear the “h” sounds or do they disappear?
“Did ‘e, do ‘is homework?”
This is a natural sounding sentence. And strangely the “h” from “he” and the “h” from “his” are both missing – they’ve been deleted! The “h” for “homework” is still there, though.
Other sounds can be deleted but the reason “h” is commonly deleted is because it’s the starting sound of a lot of pronouns – he, him, he, her – and it’s also the starting sound of “have” which is a very common word in English. That’s why this sentence sounds natural: “Their friends ‘ve already left.”
Okay, so we’ve looked at linking and deleting; connected speech key number 3 is ‘insertion’; this is where we add a sound that is not there at all! A quick example comes from a famous cartoon called Popeye. Popeye was a sailor who used to eat spinach and beat up bad guys, and he used to say: “I am what I am what I am”.
Now listen carefully to me say these words at a normal rate, and listen for the “y” sound that automatically appears:
“Iyam what Iyam what Iyam”.
You don’t need to worry about this key. If you say the words at a normal rate, the additional sound just kind of magically appears there because of the way your mouth and breath work. It’s more important to be aware of ‘addition’ when you’re listening because it can make a word sound very different to what you expect to hear.
Listen to this sentence:
“I like the idea of that.”
One more time, a bit more slowly: “I like the ideaRof that”.
Could you hear the R sound that was added when IDEA and OF come together? “IdeaRof”
Let’s look at connected speech key number 4: modification
Okay, this one is weird. We’ve heard how we can link sounds, delete sounds, and insert sounds… modification involves changing a sound when it is spoken.
Listen to this sentence: “Did you have a good time at the party?”
Listen again to the DID YOU. It doesn’t sound like “DID YOU” at all… it sounds much more like “DIDJA”
“Didja have a good time at the party?”
Even a very common phrase like “CAN YOU” changes to sound more like “KENJA” when spoken at a moderate tempo, as in: “KENJA please get the door?”
Okay, so we’ve heard how fluent English speakers link sounds, delete sounds, add sounds, and change sounds… now let’s understand how they ‘reduce’ sounds.
This usually happens when the ending sound of the first word and the starting sound of the following word have the same sounds. We simply chop off one of the sounds.
Take the phrase: This letter’s from Mary.
Here, the word ‘from’ ends in an M sound and the word Mary starts with an M sound, so we reduce the M sounds and say: Fro-Mary
Saying This letter’s froM Mary would sound a bit mechanical. Not to mention that it’s much harder to say both Ms individually.
Okay, the final key to connected speech! The final key involves multiple changes to a phrase. In fact, if you were to read the phrase and then listen to it you, wouldn’t know it was saying the same thing!
The most common one is: GONNA
GONNA is actually a combination of two words: going to, and GONNA sounds nothing like those two words combined. The two word phrase has changed significantly, and it saves a lot of time when speaking.
For example, it would sound strange to say “I am going to go to the shop”. It’s so stilted and mechanical. It’s so much easier and better to say: “I’m GONNA go to the shop.”
Other common examples include “Whaddaya” as in “Whaddaya gonna do on the weekend?” WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ON THE WEEKEND. “Whaddaya gonna do on the weekend?”
And WANNA, which means “want to” as in: Do you WANNA come over? Or “want a” as in “Do you wanna drink?” Do you WANT A drink. “Do you wanna drink?”
Okay, so in this week’s episode of the podcast we found out that there are six ways that English can change when spoken. Hopefully, this will help you to understand spoken English a lot more easily and speak it with a lot more fluency.
Remember, that if you want help with your general English and pronunciation then check out www.e2english.com
My name is Andy, and I’ll see you soon!
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