Who uses contractions in British English?
You’ll be surprised to find out how widespread they are.
Is it correct English to do this?
Contractions of auxiliary verbs, negatives, and in questions with is; are used in everyday spoken English by all sections of British society. Whilst some regional variations do exist, the basic principles of contractions and connected speech are used all the time, by almost everybody.
This short clip taken from the James Bond film Skyfall will show how contractions are used in natural speech across all classes in British society and even contractions that are grammatically incorrect are used in spoken English sometimes.
For anyone who knows the James Bond books and films, they will know that James is an educated Secret Service Officer working for the British Government. Both Q, who is a technical specialist and M the head of Mi5 were probably educated to a high level at British Private Schools. The English they all speak is a form of modern received pronunciation.
So how often do they think they use these contractions of the auxiliary verbs when they speak?
Often? sometimes? or never?
Here is the clip to listen and see if you can hear if they are using contractions. A pdf of the Transcript of Skyfall is here so you can read whilst listening.
We will look at the clip in sections later down the page.
Did you hear any contractions?
Contractions with the subject and auxiliary verbs are the norm in spoken English.
I am = I’m
You are = you’re
We are = we’re
I would = I’d
You would = you’d
We would = we’d
He has = he’s
It has = it’s
I have = I’ve
It is = it’s
that is = that’s
There is = there’s
We also use contractions in negative sentences with “not”.
this is not = this isn’t
this will not = this won’t
do not = don’t
We also use contractions in questions with “is”.
who is going? = who’s going?
what is happening? = what’s happening?
where is the dog? = where’s the dog?
So now we have looked at what contractions are-
Watch this clip and answer the questions. If you want to join the class on EDpuzzle and get feedback on your answers here is the class code to join.
You need to listen carefully to hear the contracted speech of James Bond and Q. If you watch this clip on an ipad or phone the questions may not pop up. If the questions do not display you can watch it over on EDpuzzle. To join the class and get feedback on your answers click here and register on the free course.
Incorrect grammar in spoken English.
In spoken English even highly educated people use incorrect grammar in informal situation. This is especially true when people are speaking quickly when the incorrect form is so much quicker to say.
Listen to the clip and you will see that even James Bond does this.
If the questions don’t display you can watch it over on Edpuzzle
Did you hear James Bond using incorrect grammar??
Which is correct?
There’s too many people? or There are too many people?
Did you hear the incorrect grammar?
James: There’s too many people.
This is incorrect English but perfectly acceptable in the spoken language.
When you listened to the whole clip at the top of the blog post you may have heard another feature of spoken English when M said;
“I’m gonna show her”.
I will look more at the use of gonna in my next blog post.
So now you know that even M, Q and James Bond use contractions and connected speech.
It is used all the time in everyday English conversations. Contracting the auxiliary verbs makes our speech flow much easier and if you can start to do this yourself it will make your English sound more natural.
Do you want to learn more about natural everyday spoken English?
Do you want to improve your pronunciation?
Learning how to use connected speech will really improve both your listening skills and your pronunciation. If you are frustrated when native speakers ask you to repeat what you have said, or if you are fed up of not hearing all the words in spoken English, then learning more about connected speech will really help. I have a Spring special offer on my Listening and Pronunciation course on italki.
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