How to pronounce contractions: be, have, will, did

This article (from this video) is going to talk about the pronunciation of various contractions, including be, have, will, did, relaxed pronunciation.

1. to be

I am = I’m                     [aɪm]
you are = you’re            [jər]  you tends to elide to [jə][2]
he/she is/has = he/she’s  [hiz][ʃiz]
it is/has = it’s                 [ɪts]
we are = we’re              [wər]
they are = they’re          [ðɛər] sounds like their or there

how/why is = how/why’s     [haʊz][waɪz]  [waɪz] sounds like wise
what/when is/does = what’s [wʌts][wɛnz]

2. have = ‘ve

2.1 end in a vowel

I have = I’ve              [aɪv]
you have = you’ve     [juv]
we have = we’ve       [wiv] sounds like weave
they have = they’ve   [ðeɪv]

2.2 end in a consonant, /əv/

The next set of words with the ‘have’ all contraction all end in a consonant. So rather than just adding a /v/ sound, it actually adds another, unaccented syllable, the schwa sound followed by the /v/ sound, i.e., /əv/.

could/should/would/might have = could/should/would/might’ve

The /t/ in might’ve is pronounced as a flap T, so it will actually sound like a D.

3. will = ‘ll

All of the “will” contractions have a dark L (a vowel-like sound) that is added at the end.

I will = I’ll                     [aɪl]
you will = you’ll            [jul]
it will = it’ll                    [ɪdəl]
they will = they’ll           [ðeɪl]
how will = how’ll          [haʊl] sounds like howl
where will = where’ll     [weərl]
when will = when’ll       [wɛnəl]
what will = what’ll        [wʌdəl]

With the he will and she will contractions, the e vowel might relax a little into the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ vowel.

he/she/we will = he/she/we’ll     [hɪl][ʃɪl][wɪl]

4. had/would = ‘d

I had/would = I’d             [aɪd]
you had/would = you’d         [jud]
he/she had/would = he/she’d   [hid][ʃid]
it had/would = it’d           [ɪdəd]
we had/would = we’d           [wid] sounds like weed
they had/would = they’d       [ðeɪd]
how had/would = how’d         [haʊd]

5. did = ‘d

where did = where’d      [wɛərd]
why did = why’d          [waɪd]  sounds like wide

6. Relaxed pronunciation[2]

The following text is excerpted from Wikipedia Relaxed pronunciation:

The following sections contain common words said with relaxed pronunciation in American English, along with pronunciations given in IPA, and a common written indication of this pronunciation where applicable:

6.1 of, have, to

The words of, to, and have all tend to elide to nothing more than a schwa [ə] in many common situations. This sometimes leads to spelling confusion, such as writing “I could of…” instead of “I could have…” or “I could’ve”.

  • could have: [ˈkʊɾə], coulda or [ˈkʊɾəv], could uhv.
  • must have: [ˈmʌstə], musta or [ˈmʌstəv], must uhv.
  • should have: [ˈʃʊɾə], shoulda or [ˈʃʊɾəv], should uhv.
  • would have: [ˈwʊɾə], woulda or [ˈwʊɾəv], would uhv.
  • it would: when contracted, it’s pronounced [ˈɪɾəd], iduhd, but this often collapses to [ˈɪd], ihd.
  • it would / it would have: [ˈɪɾə], itta.
  • a lot of: [əˈlɑɾə], a lotta.
  • kind of: [ˈkaɪɾ̃ə], kinda.
  • out of: [ˈaʊɾə], outta.
  • sort of: [ˈsɔɹɾə], sorta.
  • going to: [ˈɡʌnə], gonna.
  • got to: [ˈɡɑɾə], gotta.
  • have to: [ˈhæftə], hafta.
  • want to: [ˈwɑɾ̃ə], wanna.
  • ought to : [ˈɔɾə], oughta.

“Would” can also get contracted (“I’d have done things differently.”), which usually yields [ɾə] (“I would have…” can be pronounced [aɪɾə]).
Note: The [v] in “have” and “of” is usually retained before a vowel sound (e.g. in “I could have asked…”).

6.2 You

“You” tends to elide to [jə] (often written “ya”). Softening of the preceding consonant also may occur: (/t/ + /jə/ = [tʃə], /d/ + /jə/ = [dʒə], /s/ + /jə/ = [ʃə], and /z/ + /jə/ = [ʒə]). This can also happen with other words that begin with [j] (e.g. “your”, “yet”, “year”). In some dialects, such as Australian English, this is not a relaxed pronunciation but compulsory: got you[ˈɡɔtʃjʉː] (never *[ˈɡɔtjʉː])[citation needed].

  • did you: [ˈdɪdʒə], didja
  • did you / do you: [ˈdʒə], d’ya
  • don’t you: [ˈdoʊntʃə], doncha
  • got you: [ˈɡɒtʃə], gotcha
  • get you / get your: [ˈɡɛtʃə], getcha
  • would you: [ˈwʊdʒə], wouldja

6.3 Other

  • -ing forms of verbs and sometimes gerunds tend to be pronounced with an [ɪ̈n] at the end instead of the expected [iŋ] or [ɪŋ]. E.g. talking: [ˈtʰɑkɪ̈n], tahkin. If followed by a [t], this can in turn blend with it to form [ɾ̃]. E.g. talking to Bob: [ˈtʰɑkɪ̈ɾ̃̃ə ˈbɑb], tahkinna Bob
  • I will” gets contracted to “I’ll” [aɪjəl], which in turn gets reduced to “all” [ɑl] in relaxed pronunciation. E.g. I’ll do it: [ˈɑl ˈduɪʔ(t)], all do it
  • he” tends to elide to just [i] after consonants, sometimes after vowel sounds as well. E.g. is he: [ˈɪzi], izee; all he: [ˈɑli], ahlee
  • his“, “him“, and “her” tend to elide in most environments to [ɪ̈z], [ɪ̈m], and [ɚ], respectively. E.g. meet his: [ˈmiɾɪ̈z], meetiz; tell him: [ˈtʰɛlɪ̈m], tellim; show her [ˈʃoʊɚ], show-er
  • them” tends to elide to [əm] after consonants. E.g. ask them: [ˈæskəm], ask’em. (Historically, this is a remnant of the Middle English pronoun hem.)
  • about: [ˈbaʊt], bout
  • already: [ɑˈɹɛɾi], ahready
  • all right: [ɑˈɹʌit], ahright
  • all right: [ɑˈʌit], aight
  • come here: [ˈkʌmi(ə)ɹ], cuhmeer
  • don’t know: [ɾəˈnoʊ], [dəˈnoʊ] if not preceded by a vowel sound, dunno
  • fixing to: “finna”
  • give me: [ˈɡɪmi], gimme
  • I’m going to: [ˈaɪmə], “I’mma” or [ˈɑmənə], “Ah-muhnuh”
  • is it: [zɪt], ’zit
  • isn’t it: [ˈɪnɪt], innit
  • let me: [ˈlɛmi], lemme
  • let’s: [ts], E.g. let’s go: [tsˈɡoʊ]
  • probably: [ˈpɹɑli], [ˈpɹɑbli], prolly, probly
  • suppose: [spoʊz] s’pose. E.g. I suppose so: [ai spoʊz soʊ]
  • trying to: [ˈtɹaɪɾ̃ə] “trynna”
  • want a: [ˈwɑɾ̃ə], wanna
  • what is that: [ˌwʌˈsæt], wussat
  • what is up: [wəˈsʌp], wassup
  • what is up: [sʌp], ‘sup
  • what are you: [ˈwʌtʃə], whatcha
  • what have you: [ˈwʌtʃə], whatcha. E.g. What have you been up to? : [wʌtʃə bɪn ʌp tu]
  • what do you/what are you: [ˈwʌɾəjə], whaddaya
  • you all: [jɑl], y’all

[1]YouTube: How to Pronounce Contractions: American English Pronunciation
[2]Wikipedia: Relaxed pronunciation



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