We’re listening to contractions in Spoken English




When you listen to spoken informal English you will hear that we use contractions all the time in informal conversations.

You are, we are, they are.  These are rarely pronounced in this full form and are usually contracted. This often makes them hard to hear in spoken English as when contracted they sound very similar to other English words.

Practice exercise.

Read these sentences out loud using the contracted forms of the verb.

You’re late, get your coat and go.


We’re here, where is our table?


Their train is on time,  they’re getting out.   They’re there on the platform.

you’re   /   your

we’re    /    where

their    /    they’re   /   there 

Can you hear how there is no difference or just a very small difference between the sounds of these words?

Verbs in the contracted form are often very difficult to hear both for non-native and native speakers.  Usually, you can work out what is being said by the context of the sentences.  Now you are aware how these words sound when contracted and are aware of other words that sound similar you can practice hearing these words in everyday conversations.

Listening Exercise

Write down everything that you can hear.  After you have listened multiple times, compare what you have written with the transcript and discover what you could not hear.  Can you work out why you could not hear those words?  Let me know which words you could not hear and I will write a new exercise specifically on that topic.

Hi Jane….ohhh… I wanted to catch up with you…ok well phone me back because I need to tell you where we’re going to meet for the meal tomorrow night…and I just wanted to talk to you about what I’m going to wear…the weather is so changeable..I don’t know what to wear….but I’ll tell you where we’re going to meet.  OK bye..

Free Lesson when you sign up to our Mailing List.

We hate SPAM and protect your data in accordance with our privacy policy.

5 thoughts on “We’re listening to contractions in Spoken English

  1. Amr Wady

    Hello Helen, I found that it was a little bit difficult to recognize, “we’re going to meet.” & “I’m going to wear.”

    Thank you for your help. Have a happy day. Greetings from Egypt.:)

    1. Helen Cunningham Post author

      Hi Amr
      Often going to sounds like gonna . When this happens you can not hear the word TO.

      In We’re going to meet the We’re was reduced even further to a W sound. W gonna meet.

      The same things happens with I’m going to wear. The I’m reduces ever further to a shwa sound and going to is heard as gonna.

      does this explanation help? Please get in touch if you have any more questions about anything you hear.

  2. marina

    Hi Helen, I couldn’t work out ‘talk to you’ to me it sounded like’torture you’ which doesn’t make sense in the context. Also I didn’t catch ‘want’ in the past form right at the beginning. Thanks for your work.

    1. Juliana Alves Mota

      Hi, Helen!

      I’m here after following the link at the end of the exercise “where is the restaurant?”

      I had the same impression as Marina: I understood TORTURE in the place of “wanted to talk to you” and I couldn’t understand PHONE ME BACK, to me it sounded like “for me back” .

      I love your activities! Thank you! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *