How to master English contractions

7/9 post of the series “The 9 basic pillars to speak English well

 

When speaking in English contractions (also known as reduced speech) are very commonly used.

When you speak in English, what do you say?

They are or They’re
I want to or I wanna
I would or I’d

There is not a right or wrong option. You just have to use one or the other depending of the situation.

Let’s master English contractions and improve your speaking skill!

 
How to master English contractions

 

What Are English Contractions?

There are some combinations of words that can be contracted. It’s a very important characteristic of the English language. You do have to know at least the most common ones.

As an example, it not sounds the same when a native English speaker says:

I want to see if they will do what they have told me.
Or…
I wanna see if they’ll do what they’ve told me.

The 2 sentences are going to sound very different.
You are saying the same but in a formal way in the first sentence and in an informal way in the second one.

 

Why To Use Contractions?

You have to use contractions if:

  • You want to reduce your accent when speaking in English.
  • You want to improve your English rhythm and sound more natural.

If you don’t use contractions when speaking:

  1. Your English sounds too formal.
  2. Your English sounds unnatural and not fluid.

 

When To Use Contractions?

You have to use English contractions at your opinion depending of every speaking situation (formal or informal).

In informal situation you use contractions when speaking.
For example…When chatting with your friends.

But in formal situations you don’t use contractions when speaking.
For example…In a job interview.

Be careful because there is always an exception to the rule.
For example if you are speaking to your son, you usually use contractions because it’s a very informal situation.
But imagine that your son is having a very bad behavior and you want to show him that you are very angry.

Instead of using contractions and saying:
“I’m very upset. You aren’t going to the party this afternoon!”

You are going to avoid contractions to show that you are really angry:
“I am very upset. You are not going to the party this afternoon!”

As you can see it’s important to understand the basics rules because sometimes you have to break them in other to convey the right meaning for every situation.

 

Some Contractions

This is only a VERY brief summary of contractions…

  • You are   –>  You’re
  • You will   –>  You’ll
  • You should   –>  You’d
  • You have   –>  You’ve
  • You do not   –>  You don’t
  • You were not   –>  You weren’t
  • You can not  –>  You can’t
  • You would not  –> You wouldn’t
  • You want   –>  You wanna
  • You going to  –>  You gonna
  • You don’t know  –>   You dunno
  • …And the list goes on and on and on…

Don’t feel overwhelmed because there are hundreds of contractions.
You don’t need to know all English contractions. You just have to know the most common ones and then you can guess the others ones.

Use contractions whenever you talk in informal situations.
Like everything you learn, the first times is not easy to use them and you have to concentrate. But if you keep using contractions, you are going to internalize them and use them in a natural way like native English speakers do!

 

And Remember…

How to master English contractions_
… All you 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 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.