Many of my students say they want to sound just like a native English speaker. I understand the desire, but my answer to them is always the same. The goal is not to be perfect, but to progress; to be understood when speaking and to be able to understand English when spoken naturally.
One of the most important aspects of pronunciation and listening is to understand that Americans don’t just speak fast–as many students believe–but that they connect their words and change the sounds of words.
- “What are you going to do?” –> “Whaddya gonna do?”
Connected speech allows us to speak:
- Efficiently (say the most in the shortest amount of time)
- With flow and music (rhythm)
In this lesson, we will focus on how Americans link words together.
**Remember, understanding the rules of connected speech will not only help you to speak better, but will also help you understand native English speakers.
Consonant + Vowel
When a word ends in a consonant sound and is followed by a word that starts with a vowel sound, the speaker should push that consonant sound forward and connect it to the vowel in the next word.
- “Stop it” –> “Sto pit” [STA pit]
- “I need it” –> “I nee dit” [aiy NIY dit]
- “Play a song” –> “Play ya song” [pley yə Sɑŋ]
- “Read a book” — “Rea da book” [RIY də bʊk]
Consonant + Consonant
When a word ends in a consonant sound and the following word begins in the same or similar consonant sound, you will only pronounce that sound once by lengthening or holding the sound. You do not say the consonant sound twice.
- “best time” –> “bestime” [BESTYM]
- “big grape” –> “bigrayp” [BIGRAYP]
- “good day” –> “gooday” [GƱDEY]
- “sit down” –> “sitdown” [SITDOWN]
Listen and Repeat
- “You need to stop it right now.” (C+V)
- “I need it more than you do.” (C+V)
- “Play a song for us on your guitar!” (C+V)
- “Read a book for me, mommy.” (C+V)
- “I had the best time ever!” (C+C)
- “That was a big grape I just ate!” (C+C)
- “Thanks for coming. Have a good day.” (C+C)
- “Please sit down until I call you.” (C+C)
Using these rules of connected speech, along with adding rhythm and musicality to Your Speech will help you to be understood by native English speakers.