How to master word ending pronunciation

9/9 post of the series “The 9 basic pillars to speak English well

 
 In this post I’m going to give you advice about how to pronounce correctly some important word endings. As you are going to see you use them in almost every sentence.

Word ending pronunciation is crucial because it convey important information about what you are saying.

 
How to master word endings pronunciation
 

Most common mistake in word endings pronunciation

We, English learners, offend don’t pronounce, just drop, word endings that are difficult to us. Or maybe try to pronounce them but incorrectly.
It’s a problem because we are going to be misunderstood because word endings convey basic information.

An example to show you what I’m talking about…
Imagine that you tell someone the next sentence:

My sisters played with dolls

From this sentence people understand that you have more than one sister and in the past they used to play with dolls. Then we can guess that now they have grow-up and they are adults.

Let’s say that you don’t take care about pronouncing word endings correctly and then you don’t pronounce the “s” in sisters and dolls (plural) and the “ED” in played (Past tense).
Then you are going to say:

My sister play with doll

From this  last sentence people understand that you only have one sister and he plays with a doll (at the present). Then we are going to think that your only sister is still a child.

You can see now how important is word endings pronunciation to convey the right information!!!
The most important advice is then to never drop words endings just because you don’t know how to pronounce them.

 

“s” word ending pronunciation

We add an “s” in word endings like:

  1.  Verbs in the third person (he, she, it) –> I like / She likes
  2.  Plurals –> One dog / Two dogs
  3.  Possessives –> Its, Mary’s car
  4.  Contractions –>It’s, that’s…

You always have to pronounce the “s” but it can be pronounced in three different ways…

1. When the word ends with a voiceless sound, you add a voiceless /s/

  • cat –> cats
  • stop –> stops
  • pet –> pets
  • map –> maps

2. When the word ends with a voiced sound, you add a voiced /z/

  • love –> loves
  • hug –> hugs
  • kid –> kids
  • save –> saves

3. When the word ends with  s, ss, zz, x, sh, or ch, You add a syllable /iz/

  • church –> churches
  • push –> pushes
  • watch –> watches
  • judge –> judges
  • bus –> buses

 

“ed” word ending pronunciation

In regular verbs in the past tense we add an “ed”.
If you want people to understand that you are talking about the past you have to pronounce the “ed” correctly.
It’s a little tricky but if you work a little on it your pronunciation is going to improve a lot.

There is 3 different “ed” pronunciations:

1. When the verb ends with a “t” or a “d” sound,  you add a syllable

  • Wait (1 syllable) –> Waited (2 syllables) is pronounced “waited”
  • Decide (2 syllable) –> Decided (3 syllable) is pronounced “Decided”
  • Want (1 syllable) –> Wanted (2 syllable) is pronounced “Wanted”
  • Need (1 syllable) –> Needed(2 syllable) is pronounced “Needed”

2. When the verb ends with an unvoiced sound (except for the “t”) you pronounce the “ed” like an unvoiced /t/

  • Stop –> “Stopped” is pronounced “stopt”
  • Look –> “looked” is pronounced “lookt”
  • Wash –> “whashed” is pronounced “whasht”
  • Laugh –> “laughed” is pronounced “laught”

3. When the verb ends with a voiced sound (except for the “d”) you pronounce the “ed” like a voiced /d/

  • Love –> “loved” is pronounced like “lovd”
  • Save –> “saved” is pronounced like “savd”
  • Stay –> “stayed” is pronounced like “stayd”
  • Live –> “lived” is pronounced like “livd”

 

And Remember…

How to master word ending pronunciation_

…All your comments are very welcome!!!

 

What to do next…

The 9 basic pillars to speak English well
– How to master English pronunciation … Coming soon!
– How to master word stress
– How to master sentence stress … Coming soon!
– How to master the Schwa sound … Coming soon!
How to master English intonation
How to master connected speech
How to master English contractions
– How to master thought groups … Coming soon!

Copyright © Learn English Like Me and learnenglishlikeme.com, (2012-2016).
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Learn English Like Me and learnenglishlikeme.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How to master English intonation

5/9 post of the series “The 9 basic pillars to speak English well

 
If you want to speak English well it’s basic to master English intonation.
When you talk your pitch goes up and down and that is intonation.

If you talk all the time in a flat voice like a robot…

  1. Your English doesn’t sound good.
  2. It’s difficult to understand what you mean.

When speaking ,apart from using the right words in a sentence, you also have to add the right intonation that conveys important information.

There is a very old saying about that…

…It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it…

 
How to master English intonation
 
Let’s take a look at the two basic English intonations…
 

Falling Intonation…

It’s the most common intonation.
It’s when your voice falls (go down) on the last stressed syllable of a sentence.

Falling intonation expresses…

  • Finality (you are finished talking)
  • Certainty (you are sure about what you are saying)
  • Confidence
  • convincement

Falling intonation is used in…

  1. Declarative sentences –> I live in France.
  2. Commands –> Sit down!
  3. Exclamatory sentences –> What a wonderful girl!
  4. At the last item of a list –> I like cars, trucks and bikes.
  5. Wh questions –> Where do you live?
  6. Tag question –> You live in France, don’t you?
    (You use falling intonation on a tag question when you already know the answer. You just want to confirm it or are just making conversation.)

 

Rising Intonation…

It’s when your voice rises (go up) on the last stressed syllable of a sentence.

Rising intonation expresses…

  • Doubt
  • Surprise
  • Non-finality
  • Awaiting for a reply
  • Lack of confidence
  • Uncertainty
  • Interest

Rising  intonation is used in…

  1. Yes/No questions –> Are you French?
  2. In every item of list except the last one –> I like cars, trucks and bikes.
  3. Dependent or introductory sentences –> If she calls, ask her to come.
  4. Direct adress –> Sir, be careful with the dog.
  5. Tag questions –>You live in France, don’t you?
    (Here the tag question is a real question because you don’t know the answer).

 

Changing The Rules To Master English Intonation

Very often you are going to hear a sentence with an Intonation that doesn’t follow the rules I just shared with you.
It’s not a mistake!!!
It’s just that you can change intonation when you want to convey a different meaning.

Example 1:

– I ask you: “Where do you live?” (Falling intonation)

– If your answer is… “I live in the moon.”
I’m going to think that you didn’t understand my question or that I didn’t understand your answer or that you are just making fun of me.

– Then I’m going to repeat the question: “Where do you live?“(Rising intonation)

But this time with a RISING INTONATION because I want to show you that I’m surprised.

Example 2:

As I told you before in a list you use a rising intonation (up) for all the items you are listing except for the last one that has a falling intonation (down).
The falling intonation shows that it’s the last item of the list.

Sentence 1:  Would you like tea(up), coffee(up) or juice(down)?

In this sentence you are asking someone which one of the tree options he/she likes.
But you can change the intonation pattern and use a rising intonation (up) for the tree item (even for the last one).

Sentence 2: Would you like tea(up), coffee(up) or juice(Up)?

With this intonation pattern your question is open and you are asking if he/she wants one of the tree items listed or maybe something else.
Would you like tea, coffee or juice…or maybe something else…?

To the first question your speaker can choose between tea, coffee or juice.
But to the second question you speaker can chose between tea, coffee or juice or maybe ask for milk or water or something else.
As you can see in these examples it’s very common to change the intonation pattern whenever you want to convey a different meaning.

 

And Remember…

How to master English intonation_

…All your comments are very welcome!!!

What to do next…

The 9 basic pillars to speak English well
– How to master English pronunciation … Coming soon!
How to master word stress
– How to master sentence stress … Coming soon!
– How to master the Schwa sound … Coming soon!
How to master connected speech
How to master English contractions
– How to master thought groups … Coming soon!
How to master word ending pronunciation

Copyright © Learn English Like Me and learnenglishlikeme.com, (2012-2016).
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Learn English Like Me and learnenglishlikeme.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The 9 basic pillars to speak English well

Introductory post of the series “The 9 basic pillars to speak English well”.

 
I want to tell you something personal…

I have a friend from the US and we send each other emails on a regular basis.
Some time ago, we decided to exchange a voice recording. I first sent him my voice file and when he answered me back, I was stunned!!!

He first apologized because he wasn’t able to understand my English!!!

How was it possible that a native English couldn’t understand my very basic English,  spoken really slowly?

That’s when I decided that I needed to answer the next question:
What make the difference between good and bad English speaking?

After some research I want to share with you what I think are the 9 basic pillars that make the difference if you to speak English well.

 
The 9 pillars to speak English well
 

Important Notes:

  1. This post is the first one of a series. The blueprint you have to keep in mind if you want to speak English well.
  2. Next I’m going to write 9 posts about how to master every one of these pillars.

Let’s check the 9 ingredients that make English to “sound English”…

1. Pronunciation

The most common mistake between English learners is trying to pronounce English words the way you pronounce them in your own language. As you already know it doesn’t work like that.
Moreover, English pronunciation is not easy at all because with the 26 letters of the English alphabet you can produce more than 44 different sounds.

That means that:

  •  You can forget about “one letter = one sound”. 🙁
  • You can’t guess the pronunciation of a word by its spelling.   🙁

 

2. Syllable Stress

To speak English well you have to stress words correctly. Every word has one and only one syllable stressed. It’s just about stressing in the right place in every word.

If you stress words correctly you are more likely to be understood and to avoid misunderstandings.

 

3. Word Stress

In every sentence you have to know what words to stress and what words not to stress.

As a rule of thumb…

  1. You stress important words, the ones that convey the meaning of the sentence or the ones you want to emphasize.
  2. You don’t stress or even de-stress words that are not important.

Doing these, the rhythm of your English is going to improve.

 

4. The “Schwa” Sound

The Schwa sound is one of the most common sounds of English and also one of the most unknown between English learners.

English speakers use the Schwa sound instead of the regular sound of certain syllables and words when they’re de-stressed.

 

5. Intonation

When you speak you always want to convey a very specific meaning…

  • Are you asking?
  • Are you giving an order?
  • Do you have a doubt?
  • Do you disagree?

You always need to use the right intonation if you want people to understand what you want to express.

 

6. Connected Speech

One important characteristic of English is that there is a lot of linking between words.
Connecting words correctly when speaking is going to improve your English rhythm and it’s also going to reduce your accent.

 

7. Reduced Speech

When speaking in English you have to reduce or contract words whenever needed.
If you don’t do that your English is not going to sound natural.

 

8. Thought Groups

In order to speak clearly, you always have to mentally cut long sentences into shorter chunks that are called Thought groups.

This helps to stress the right words in long sentences and to pause naturally to breath.
Your English rhythm is going to sound more natural.

 

9. Word Endings

You have to be careful to never drop and pronounce word endings correctly.

Words endings are very important because they tell if a word is singular or plural or show what tense you are using.
It’s very common to be misunderstood when you are not careful pronouncing word endings.

 

 These are the 9 ingredients that when well mixed are going to make you sound like a native English speaker!!!

 

And Remember…

The 9 pillars to speak English well_
– What do you think about these 9 pillars?
– Did I miss one?
… All your comments are very welcome!!!

 

What to do next…

How to master English pronunciation … Coming soon!
How to master word stress
How to master sentence stress … Coming soon!
How to master the Schwa sound … Coming soon!
How to master English Intonation
How to master connected speech
How to master English contractions
How to master thought groups … Coming soon!
How to master Word Ending pronunciation

Copyright © Learn English Like Me and learnenglishlikeme.com, (2012-2016).
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Learn English Like Me and learnenglishlikeme.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.