The most common feature of spoken English is sound linking. When we speak we don’t leave spaces between the words. We link the words together. When one word ends in a consonant and the next word begins with a vowel we blend the words together without pausing for breath and it can sound like we are saying one word.
The cat is here.
The cat⤻is here.
In this sound file I repeat this sentence starting slow and then faster.
The cat is here.
In this sentence the consonant t at the end of cat is linked up with the vowel at the beginning of is.
It sounds like the words cat and is join together to make a new word catis.
You need to train your ears and your brain to listen for sound linking. Your brain needs to know that when your ears hear a strange unknown word it is probably two words linked together with connected speech.
Look at these sentences and work out where the sound linking will be.
Say them out loud linking the consonant and the end of one word with the vowel sound at the beginning of the next. Remember the linking happens when the consonant sound is the last sound in the word. There may be silent vowels after the consonant.
1 She took an orange.
2 I gave it to the dog. I heard it barking.
3 Where is he? Does he want it?
Say each sentence out loud slowly, then say it faster linking up the words where appropriate.
You can record yourself saying these sentences with the sound linking. Then check your recording with my sound files below.
Now listen to me saying these phrases.
She took⤻ an⤻ orange.
I gav⤻ it to the dog. I heard⤻ it barking.
Wher⤻is he? Does⤻ he want⤻ it?
Did you put the sound linking in the correct places? Does it feel easier to speak in this way? You don’t have to speak like this but you do need to understand connected speech to improve your listening skills so that you can recognise the words when native speakers talk to you.
If you begin to use connected speech in your own spoken English it will make you sound much more natural.
Train your ears.
As well as training your brain to recognise two separate words you hear as one like catis = cat is, you also need to be aware that when we link words together you may hear sounds that sound like words that are not in the sentence. In this next sound file can you hear sounds that sound like the word cup ?
Will you pick⤻up the book?
Listen to this sound file.
pick⤻up the phone
You can hear the word cup so this may confuse the listener if they don’t know anything about connected speech and sound linking.
Can you pick up the cup? Put it on the table.
1 Listen to this sound files and write down what you hear.
Write arrows where the sound linking is between words.
Check your answer with the transcript.