Home / English Lessons / Introduction: Pronunciation of Contracted Verbs | “Have” & “Will” | English Pronunciation Lesson

Introduction: Pronunciation of Contracted Verbs | “Have” & “Will” | English Pronunciation Lesson

This lesson is part of the series on Pronouncing Verb Contractions in English:

Listen to the audio while reading the lesson:

Or watch the video!:

The music of English comes from the way native English speakers:

  1. stress their content words (meaning, they say them longer, louder, and higher in pitch); as well as
  2. de-stress their function words (meaning they say them quicker and more relaxed).

Function words in English are those that form the grammar and structure of a sentence and do not carry much content. These include auxiliary verbs, which accompany a main verb and add some grammatical meaning to the sentence. Examples of auxiliary verbs are:

  • can
  • could
  • do
  • have
  • may
  • might
  • must
  • should
  • will
  • would

For pronunciation practice, this series will focus on contracting “have” and “will” after:

  • subjects (I, he, she, it, we, they); and
  • auxiliary verbs (would, could, may, must)

To speak more efficiently, native English speakers shorten words so much that they delete certain sounds. Specifically, we often delete the [h] in function words, such as “has”, “have”, “him”, etc. (See the lesson on “h”-deletion for more explanation). This allows us to connect speech more fluidly to a vowel instead of a consonant.

Example

Instead of saying:

  • “I gave him a chance” [GeYV  hɪm]

native English speakers often times delete the [h] in “him” –> [ɪm] or [əm]. They would then simply say:

  • “I have him a chance” [GeYV  vɪm]

Did you hear that I deleted the [h] in “him”? This allowed me to speak with more flow and more speed.

  • “I have him a chance” [GeYV  vɪm]

This same deletion occurs when we contract the verbs “have” and “will”. To contract these verbs, simply:

  1. delete the first consonant sounds; and
  2. connect them to the verbs before them.

“Have” –> [əv]

“Will” –> [ɫ]

[ɫ]

[ɫ] can be a difficult sound to produce. To produce it:

  1. the tip of the tongue should touch the top of your mouth behind the teeth (the alveolar ridge)
  2. and let the air simply flow over your tongue.

Let’s Practice. Notice that the contracted “have” and “will” are said very short and relaxed, while the verb before it is a bit longer.

Listen and Repeat

Have

  • Would + have = “would’ve”  [Wʊ dəv]
  • Could + have = “could’ve” [Kʊ dəv]
  • May + have = “may’ve” [MeY yəv]
  • Must + have = “must’ve” [MʌS təv]

Will

  • I + will = “I’ll” [AIY əl] (note the [y] consonant sound in [aiy], and pull your lips back to produce the vowel sound)
  • He + will = “he’ll” [hiyəl]
  • She + will = “she’ll” [ʃiyəl]
  • We + will = “we’ll” [wiyəl]
  • It + will = “it’ll” [ɪ dəl] (Note: British English speakers may use an aspirated [t] and say [ɪ təl]
  • They + will = “they’ll” [ðey yəl] 

Feel free to check out the specific lessons on how to position your mouth to pronounce each of these verb contractions,  vowel sounds and their negatives and of course just for more practice.

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