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Unit 2:Common Reductions II

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 three kinds of reduction of the supra-segmental features in this unit.

1. Vowel Reduction

    Vowels in the unstressed syllables in a word are pronounced with the reduced vowel //, as in the word “delicious” which are pronounced as /dlIs/ by native speakers. Here in Taiwan, we often find unstressed syllables pronounced strongly as the vowels stated in a dictionary by people. These vowels include /I/, /U/, /^/, //.

Examples are:

(1)   believe    /bIliv/ à /bliv/ 

     (2) would     /wUd/ à /wd/ 

     (3) blood      /bl^d/ à /bld/  

     (4) because    /bIkz/ à /bkz/  

 For better understanding, please listen to the following sentences:

     (5) Could I borrow twenty dollars? 

(6) You sound kind of depressed.  

(7) I hope you’re enjoying your stay with us.  

(8) Hmmm. Something smells delicious.  

(9) I was downstairs talking to the guy who just moved in to the apartment below mine, Kate’s friend.  

(10) Artificially produced vitamins are no substitute for the nutrition we derive from food. 

2. Ellipsis

    In many dialects, unstressed syllables are completely dropped; which causes the missing of one vowel or, literally, one syllable. This is called ellipsis. Even though it is very common, it is not used by all speakers. Examples are as follows:


      (1) favorite      /fe-v-rIt/    à  /fev-rIt/  

(2) difficult      /dI-f-klt/   à  /dIf-klt/  

(3) general      /ε-n-rl/  à  /εn-rl/  

(4) separate (adj.) /sε-p-rIt/    à   /sε-prIt/  

(There is no such change with the verb separate.)

   For better understanding, please listen to the following sentences:

   (5) I’ve always thought she was a little difficult, but these days I find her impossible.  

   (6) For lunch Roley at ten pieces of bacon, four eggs, ten potatoes, and fried vegetables.  

   (7) They went everywhere together—to movies, to parks, to museums, and to restaurants.  

   (8) Marriage is such a big step, honey.  

   (9) They pay one dollar for a lottery ticket.  

  (10) His family went on vacation, and he didn’t go with them.  

3. Inflectional Endings

    -ed is pronounced as /d/ after /t/ and /d/, and –es is pronounced as /z/ after /s/, /z/, //, //, and //. Examples are as follows:



(1) wanted    /wan-tId/  à /wan-dd/  

(2) needed    /ni-dId/    à /ni-dd/  

(3) washes    /wa-Iz/   à /wa-z/  

(4) teaches    /ti-Iz/  à /ti-z/ 

(5) causes     /k-zIz/  à /k-zz/  

(6) sentences  /sεn-tn-sIz/  à /sεn-tn-sz/  

For better understanding, please listen to the following sentences:

 (7)   Yes, but it closes in half an hour. 

 (8)   He sounded a little depressed.  

 (9) He’s in Los Angeles, and he decided to stay an extra day.  

 (10)What’s listed in the classifieds today?  

 (11)And she always manages to mention how good she is at everything she does.  




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 5.2, 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 difficult at all.

Reduction 1

   For more practice, please log on part 5 母音減弱on the following page:


Reduction 2

 For more practice, please log on part 6 音節省音on the following page:


Reduction 3

  For more practice, please log on part 7 複數省音on the following page:



Section 4: Variety Show


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

Nursery Rhythm

    With the following nursery rhythm, you can read for several times, noticing the red parts carry the reduction and inflectional ending that we mentioned above. As you read more, you will find fun in reading a nursery rhythm, and with a smile!

 Four Fat Flies

 I wish I could find

Those four fat flies

That flow in my window

Last Friday night.

Four flies flew in,

Four flies, not three.

One landed on Fred,

Three landed on me.

Common Problem 1

   Non-native speakers often have problem reducing vowels. Part 4 “/I/不在重音節時,可發//” of the following page offers you something to reflect on:



Common Problem 2

   When consonants /p/, /t/, and /k/ follow /s/ in a syllable, native speaker pronounce them as , /d/, and /g/. Please check part 5 “/p/在下列情形可發中文ㄅ音” on 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 Underline the words when you identify they have inflectional ending.

Tina:  How long have you lived in Clinton?

Marge: Me? My whole life. You know Frank, the owner? We’ve known each other for thirty-five years … since kindergarten.

Tina:  No kidding! Have you ever wanted to live somewhere else?

Marge: When I was younger I wanted to move to Hollywood and be an actress. But here I am … still in Clinton and still a waitress.

Tina:  Oh, that’s funny. I’ve always wanted to be an actress, too. How long have you been a waitress?

Marge: For twenty years now.

Tina:  That’s a long time.

Check out the answers here. :)



(P.14, Lesson9, Spectrum 3: A Communicative Course in English, by Nancy Frankfor& Joan Dye, 1994, Engliwood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents, Prentice-Hall, Inc.)