How to understand Everyday Fast Spoken English.
Who use the contraction “Gonna” instead of the longer “going to”?
Students often ask me if I ever use contractions such as gonna and wonna in my own speech. At first I said No, I don’t use such terms. I always say “going to” and “want to”. But I started to listen to myself speak when chatting to my kids and friends. I heard myself shouting to my kids every morning Come on, hurry up, you’re gonna be late for school. And in the evening when they returned from school Do you wonna come in and eat your tea? and then you’ve gotta do your homework. When we are speaking in natural, informal conversations these contractions are used often without us even realising we are doing this. And Yes, I do ask them if they want to eat not drink their tea. That’s a whole different blog post. I live in the North of England so tea is the meal we have in the early evening at “tea time” and dinner is the meal we have at midday at “dinner time.”
Contractions are the norm in everyday spoken Engish.
You might think that using connected speech is a lazy way of speaking. Students often tell me that when they were at school they were told not to use these contractions as it was an incorrect way of speaking. However contractions are normal in spoken English, especially the contraction of the auxiliary verbs, they are not incorrect, they are the norm. Contractions are so widespread in British fast spoken English that even if you don’t want to use them yourself you need to recognise them when you hear them. Nearly all native speakers use contractions some of the time. It is almost impossible not to use them when you are speaking at a very fast pace.
Joining up the words in spoken English.
In spoken English, the words flow together. It sounds like we are speaking very fast as there are no gaps between the words. We do not stop to breathe between the different words in a sentence. To make it easy to flow from one word to another we join up words using the consonant at the end of one word to join up with the next word. In this next EDpuzzle quiz there is one example of how the last consonant sound of a word is used to link with the vowel sound at the beginning of the next word. There is also an example of “gonna” being spoken instead of the longer form “going to”.
You can watch the videos here on my website but if you want to join the class on EDpuzzle here is the link to join the class.
In this first clip from the James Bond film Skyfall, we can hear the linking / r / sound used to join up two words.
Looks like there⤻isn’t much more road.
We also hear Eve say There’s a tunnel ahead. I’m gonna lose them.
So a linking / r / is often used to join words together. This happens with other consonants too. In this next film clip we hear James connect his words when one ends with a / t / and the next begins with a vowel. This film clip has subtitles to enable you to read and shadow the pronunciation. Click on CC at the bottom right of the video to turn on subtitles.
James uses the / t / at the end of get to join with the next word. Get⤻in!
So even James Bond with his perfect British accent connects up his speech and says gonna when speaking to a friend and colleague.
What about not pronouncing the / h / sounds? Is this usual in spoken English?
In fast spoken English the / h / sound in pronouns such as her, his, him is often not pronounced and the words flow together, joining up with the previous word in the sentence. This does not happen when the pronoun is the first word in a sentence. If the He, His, Him is at the beginning of a sentence it is always pronounced. When the pronoun is in the middle of a sentence we use the consonant of the word before to link up with the vowel after the / h / to allow us to flow the sounds together and say it quicker and easier.
So when Q says “Where is he going?” it sounds like:
and then when James says “Get her out of there”. This sounds like:
Get⤻er out of there.
Do you have any questions on how we use connected speech?
Please post any comments or questions in the comments below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
Anything in the videos you did not hear clearly and want explaining?
Post any questions in the comments. I would love to hear what you think of these EDpuzzle quizzes. Are they useful? Do they help with listening skills? Please let me know and I will make more if they are beneficial.
Using connected speech like this with contractions and linking sounds is perfectly normal everyday speech across all sections of society. Understanding how we connect our speech up like this will improve your listening skills and if you also use this in your own pronunciation it will enable you to sound much more natural and fluid in your speech.
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If you would like one to one English lessons on this topic and would like an intensive course to help you with your own pronunciation or listening then I have a Spring special offer on my course on italki.