This week we are going to look at two phrases that are very common in English
What do you want to do?
Do you want to…?
These are two basic and very common phrases. I am sure you all understand what they mean. But when you hear these phrases in normal conversational speed English they will often sound very different to the way you might expect them to sound.
Listen to this sound file and write down what I am saying.
What do you want to do tonight? Do you want to go out? Do you want to go for a meal? What do you want to eat? Or, do you want to go to the cinema or do you want to go for a drink? Let me know….give us a ring.
Did you hear all the words in that sound file?
Leave me a comment and tell me which words you could and could not hear. Did you notice how the sound of the words changed as I spoke them quickly? I joined up the words and did not pronounce all the t and d sounds.
Let’s look at why this happens.
What do you want to do ? is a very common expression. These words are often spoken together – we know what word is next in the sentence so we say them very quickly and connect the words together.
Try this yourself – say this phrase out loud.
What do you want to do tonight?
Say the words out loud saying each word clearly. Can you feel how your tongue and your lips have to move a lot? To move from the end consonants to the first consonants is a lot of work for our lips and tongue muscles. It is hard to pronounce all the t and d sounds at the beginning and ends of the words. We only talk like this when we are emphasising something, it makes us sound angry when we speak like this. In normal speech native speakers connect the words together, we move our mouths quickly from one sound to another, and the t and d sounds disappear.
Listen to this next sound file. I start off saying the words very slowly and gradually say them quicker. I repeat the phrase getting faster and then say it slowly again. When I emphasise the t and d ‘s my voice sounds angry to my native speaker ears.
In this sound file, I gradually say the phrase quicker and quicker until it sounds very different.
What do you want to do tonight?
When I say the phrase very slowly you can hear me pronounce the t sound at the end of the words. This is very unnatural speech. I would never talk like this in a normal conversation unless I was very angry! It takes more work to pronounce all the sounds so we don’t talk like this in everyday conversations. When we do say things slowly and pronounce the T’s it is for emphasis. It is not normal speech.
Now try this yourself.
Say What do you want to do tonight? slowly and pronounce all the sounds, make sure you can hear the t and d at the beginning and end of words. Now say it faster and faster. Does it change to sound like this ?
t do you wan t to do tonigh t?wha-cha wanna do tonigh ?
You do not need to speak in this fast way, but you do need to be able to recognise the sound of the phrases when native speakers do this.
What do you think about this exercise? Is it helpful?
Let me know in the comments and I will be back next week with another one for you to practice with. If you want to read more about contractions like want to changing to wanna read this.