Reducing Unstressed Words

Stressing content words (usually by saying them louder, longer, and at a different pitch) is only half of how spoken English rhythm is created. Reducing words is equally important. There are five different strategies for reducing words:

  1. Pronounce the word faster and more quietly than stressed words
  2. Change the vowel sound to a schwa or other reduced sound
    • to: /tu/ → /tə/ or ‘tuh’
    • you: /yu/ → /yə/ or ‘yuh’
    • do: /du/ → /də/ or ‘duh’
    • can: /kæn/ → /kɪn/ or ‘kin’
    • your: /yɔr/ → /yɚ/ or ‘yer’ (Learn to pronounce /ɚ/)
  3. Use common contractions
    • I have → I’ve
    • do not → don’t
  4. Use informal contractions
    • want to → ‘wanna’
    • could you → ‘couldja’
  5. Omit sounds from the beginning of words (See video)
    • omit /h/ from ‘he, him, her’
    • omit ‘th’ from ‘them’