15: Linking vowel sounds

Become fluent by linking a word that ends with a vowel sound to a word that begins with a vowel sound.


Hello everyone, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English Pronunciation Podcast. My name is Mandy. Today we are going to continue our lesson about linking, so if you haven't listened to episode 14 yet, I'd suggest you do so before listening to this one today.


As a review, linking is a technique used to help with the rhythm of English. Linking means to join two or more words together without pausing between them. Last week we studied linking a consonant sound to a vowel sound. I hope you remember that we must share the final consonant sound of the first word with the word that comes after it in order to link them. As an example, linking the words wake + up sounds like wake_up. The final word, up, sounds nearly identical to the word cup in that word sequence.


Linking vowels is a bit more difficult however, because instead of sharing a sound between two words, we need to add a sound, specifically, a w sound or a y sound, between the words.

Let's listen to an example. In the phrase I_asked, the first word ends in a long i and the following word begins with a short a. To fluidly link the words together, we add a y sound between them. Listen again.


Now listen to an example that uses a w sound to link the words.


Did you hear the w sound between the words? Listen again.


So how do you know if the vowels should link words with a y sound or w sound? Well, I could list all the sound combinations, but really, it becomes very obvious if you try using the wrong one. Listen to the examples I used so far when I intentionally say them incorrectly.

Here is I_asked said with a w sound

I (w sound) asked, I (w sound) asked

And here is go_away, said incorrectly with a y sound

go (y sound) away, go (y sound) away

Those are very obviously wrong, I hope.

One of the hardest aspects of linking vowels that my students usually have is realizing when a word ends in a vowel sound. Any word that ends with the letters w or y will always end in a vowel sound. When the next word begins with another vowel, then add a w sound or y sound in between the words.

Listen to and repeat the next examples. See if you can tell which sound was added.


Did I add a w sound or a y sound?


I added a y sound, and the word up sounded like yup.



Was it a y sound or w sound?


It was a y sound again.

Try these next three.


Yellow_onions was linked with a w sound.
My_answer was linked with a y sound.
You_always was linked was a w sound.

If the w sound or y sound is not added between the words, the two words can get muddied and less clear.

Students often ask, "When can I stop linking the words?" Well, you will need to take a breath eventually. Usually you will pause for the breath at the end of a sentence or a phrase. Pause where you would have punctuation like a period or comma if it were written English.

If you are a current student at Seattle Learning Academy or if you have purchased the Pronunciation Pages book and have full access to the site, you will find more lessons on this material in the linking section of the website. After logging in, click on a lesson and at the bottom of the lesson you will find links to additional exercises.

If you are interested in purchasing the book, there is a link with the transcripts to this week's show. The transcript is available online at www.pronuncian.com. If you are finding these podcasts helpful or if you have suggestions for pronunciation issues you would like me to talk about, email me at podcast@pronunican.com.

This has been a Seattle Learning Academy digital publication. Seattle Learning Academy is where the world comes to learn. Thanks for listening everyone.