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Underlying Goals of English Pronunciation | Things to Remember

When you are studying English pronunciation, it is important to remember the underlying goals of English speakers. That is, to be:

  • clear; and
  • efficient.

If you as an English language student and speaker can remember that being clear and efficient are behind all of the rules of English pronunciation, this will help you to understand why English speakers do what they do.

1) Clarity

In English conversations, it is not the job of the listener to make a strong effort to understand the speaker. The burden is on the speaker to be clear. This is why we stress our content words  and de-stress function words when we speak–because the listener can clearly hear the content words that express the meaning of the communication.


If a baby or young child says to his mother,

“Mommy! Thirsty!”

Mommy doesn’t need to hear the child say the full sentence “I am thirsty” because the adjective “thirsty” was all that was needed to get the message across.

2) Efficiency

English speakers de-stress their function words, because function words don’t need to be articulated clearly for the message to get across to the listener, as explained above. So, the English speaker can say more in a shorter amount without losing the ability to express the message clearly.


Remember, when you seek to improve your pronunciation and when you learn pronunciation rules as taught on ElementalEnglish.com, your goal never needs to be to sound like a perfect, native English speaker. Pronunciation should be improved only if it means expressing yourself with:

  • clarity; and
  • confidence.

And in order to improve your English listening skills.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Elemental English podcast on iTunes.


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