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Unit 1:Common Reductions I

Section 1: Focus 

Section 2: From Listening To Pronunciation
Section 3: Pronunciation Drills
Section 4: Variety Show

Section 5: Listen And Check


Section 1: Focus

Introduction of Four Common Reductions:

    There are commonly used supra-segmental features in everyday American English conversation, which makes the target language fast and fluent. And we are going to introduce four kinds of reduction of the supra-segmental features in this unit.

1. wanna/ gonna/ oughda/ hafda/ hasda/ hada/

    Words like want to/ going to/ have to/ has to/ had to/ ought to are often said in an utterance. They are so often spoken everyday that speakers tend to reduce them into the following forms:

Written Words    Spoken Utterance

      Want to              wanna

      Going to             gonna

      Ought to             oughda

      Have to              hafda

      Has to                hasda

      Had to                hada

    The above examples show that not only the words are shorter, but the sounds are of course shorter, which eventually speed up the utterance.

    For better understanding, please see the following examples:

    1. I wanna get it done soon.

    2. I am gonna visit Japan next month.

        3. I oughda try harder in the test.

        4. You hafda make sure someone will pick you up.

        5. He hasda report to the office before 5:00 p.m.

        6. She hada take a ride last night when she was dead drunk.

2. n/ er/ fer

    Words like and/or/for are also used in most of the sentences. And they are pronounced in very short and weak sounds. Please see the following examples:

Written Words   Spoken Utterance

         and                     n

         or                       er

         for                      fer

         for                      fe


    For better understanding, please refer to the following examples:

    1. Cream n sugar?

    2. Either coffee er tea is fine with me.

    3. Fer information, please call 2635-8284.

    4. I am doing this fe my boyfriend.

3. Reduction of h Sound

    When ¡§him¡¨ and ¡§her¡¨ are used as an object in a sentence, and the sentence is on the verb, the h sound of these two words are often removed and the rest of the word is pronounced rather weak by linking with the previous sound; either a vowel or a consonant..

Written Words   Spoken Utterance

       him                      im

       her                       er

    For better understanding, please refer to the following examples:

    1.    A: Did you see John?

         B: Yeah, I saw_im in the hallway.

    2.    A: How do you like Mary?

         B: Yeah, I like_er a lot.

4.  Unreleased Consonants

    Words with final sounds p/b/d/t/k/g are found everywhere in spoken utterances, and native speakers tend to make these sounds unreleased.  But very often non-native speakers pronounce these sounds with very strong stress, which also affect the speed of their utterance. The trick to pronounce these words is to place more stress on the vowel.

Written Words   Spoken Utterance

    soup                     soup

     rob                       rob

     road                     road

     it                           it

  take                     take

     bag                     bag

    For better understanding, please refer to the following examples:

(The gray marks are unreleased consonants.)

1.    The soup tastes good.

2.    Are you gonna rob the bank?

3.    You can stop by Jackson Road and pick me up.

4.    It is very interesting to read Harry Potter.

5.    Take this book and read_it during the weekend.

6.    I like this bag more than that one.




Section 2: From Listening To Pronunciation


    Closely observe dialogues or reading passages, one can easily find various supra-segmental features prevail everywhere. The following dialogue and reading passage contain various supra-segmental features. Please listen as many times as you would like, and observe the features as presented.


    Listen while observing the words and sentences in a dialogue or a reading passage, and you will get a clear picture of how reductions are spoken.

    Now listen to Conversation 1 of the elementary level from the following site:


Reading Passage:

    Now, listen to reading passage 1.1, and you will find the reductions we mentioned above are very common in the reading passage; which is spoken in the form of report English, similar to news reports we hear everyday.




Section 3: Pronunciation Drills

    After you observed the dialogue and reading passage from the previous section, you have probably had a thorough understanding of how supra-segmental features work in American English. The following practices are sentence exercises for each reduction feature we introduce in this unit. Practice them, and you will find becoming fluent like a native speaker is not hard.

Reduction 1

    Please see the following website for more practices:


Reduction 2

    Please refer to the following website for more practices.


Reduction 3

    Please see the following website for more practices:


Reduction 4

    Please see the following website for more practices:



Section 4: Variety Show


English learning is not just hard work. Here we have some interesting activities for you to learn and have fun!

Tongue Twister

    Supra-segmental features exist everywhere. Tongue twister is another example. We often hear people say tongue twisters with extraordinary speed, which actually is a dramatized presentation of supra-segmental features. In this section, we provide you with interesting tongue twisters, of which feature marks and phonemes are indicated under the tongue twisters for you to say them quickly. Practice them and enjoy the play!

    Please read aloud number 1-10 tongue twister on the following page:


There are also problems that commonly occur among non-native speakers. The following page offers you something to reflect on.

Common Problem 1

    A group of unreleased consonant strongly stressed by many students in Taiwan has been collected and posted in the following page:


Common Problem 2

    When two more consonants are grouped together in a word, non-native speakers of Taiwan found it difficult to say. They are used to CV pattern (consonant + vowel pattern as in ¡§£t£«¡¨) in Chinese, and find no way to quickly utter a word with CCV pattern (consonant + consonant +vowel pattern as in ¡§sweet¡¨) The word ¡§sweet¡¨ is often pronounced slowly as ¡§seweet¡¨ with a strong /s/ sound, which can be easily identified as ¡§English with Chinese accent¡¨.

    Please practice the Consonant Cluster in the following page:



Section 5: Listen And Check


    No learning is completed without a quiz to check your comprehension. The following quiz is designed for you to check whether you can identify the supra-segmental features introduced in this unit. It is in sentence and can be repeated for as many times as you like.

Listening Quiz

    The following sentences were originally spoken as a dialogue. Please listen and mark a slash (/) on the word when you identify it is reduced.

1.      What kind of guys do you like?

2.      Oh, I like guys who aren¡¦t too serious and who have a good sense of humor. You know, ¡Klike you.

3.      Ok. What else?

4.      Well, I¡¦d prefer someone I have something in common with ¡V who I can talk to easily.

5.      I think I know just the guy for you. Bob Branson. Do you know him?

Check out the answers here. :)



(Source: p. 2, Unit 1, new interchange 3, by Jack C. Richards, Jonathan, & Susan Proctor, Cambridge University Press)