Sound like a native speaker: the BEST pronunciation advice


Hi, everyone. I'm Jade. What we're talking about today, is elision. And that's one of

the things that makes the speech of native speakers hard to understand because we don't

say every single word perfectly, like, how it is on the page. We squash words together,

and we miss sounds out. So I'm showing you how we do that in today's lesson.

So you know we like tea in England, right? We like to drink tea. Well, we call it a "cuppa

tea". And if I were to offer you that, I'd say, "Dju wanna cuppa tea?" "Dju wanna cuppa

tea?" And we've got an example of elision in that sentence. The written sentence would

be, "Do you want a cup of tea?" All the different syllables being pronounced. But colloquial,

relaxed spoken English, "Dju wanna cuppa tea?" So the "of" joins the words before. So remember,

it's "cup of tea", "cuppa tea." "Dju want a cuppa tea?" We join that. And that's an

example of elision.

We can also elide consonants. For example, in this sentence, the reply, "I don wanna

tea." Some people will not say the T at the end of a word if the next word is another

consonant. So saying it properly is more effort. "I don't want a cup of tea." Or, again, there's

more elision here. "I don't want a tea." The A joins "want" and becomes "wanna". "I don

wanna tea." Two examples of elision there: not saying the T and A joining "want", the

word before.

What about the next example here? Here, I've written it out, "I don't want a tea." What

we see here is the contraction, and that is standard English. We can write that. We can

write "don't" like that, "do not". "I don't want a tea." But you cannot write it exactly

how it sounds. You cannot write it, "I don". You need the T there. And the difference between

contractions and elision is that contractions are okay when we write them, and elision isn't

-- it's not necessarily the case that we can write down an elision and it be grammatically

correct English. I'll show you two examples.

"Wanna" and "gonna" are two common forms in colloquial speech. We say them all the time.

"I wanna do that." "I'm gonna go there later." But we can't write them. The reason we can't

write them is that they're not contractions. They're not recognized as being standard English.

We can say it, but we can't write it that way. In general, we use elision in our speech

because it's just easier than saying every single sound in a sentence.

Some people think that posh accents are made up of just saying every single word properly

and giving it good enunciation and definition and making sure you say everything correctly.

But in fact, as we'll see in a sec, posh people and posh accents also use elision in their

speech. But they will have some rules that they consider wrong. So for example, "wanna"

and "gonna" in some posh accents are considered sloppy or not right or not a correct way of

speaking. But I think a good thing to say about that is a lot of people think and perceive

that they don't use these words when in fact they do. So you could ask a posh person, "Do

you ever say this?" "Oh, no. I wouldn't say that. It's not right. It's not proper English."

When in fact, David Cameron would also use "wanna" and "gonna". He's the prime minister

of the UK at the moment. So I'd say he's a pretty posh guy, and he's using "wanna" and

"gonna". That shows me that these are quite standard forms now. Some people will judge

you for it, "Oh, it's not right. You don't say it that way." And also, some people will

not realize that they say it themselves. So --

So -- yeah. What to think about elision? It just shows us how when we try to speak English

correctly just by reading everything properly, this is not going to help you sound like a

relaxed, natural speaker of English who actually sounds good because our real speech doesn't

fit the actual words on the page.

And when we come back, I'm going to give you examples of elision in words that give a good

example of how an actual word, the way it's spelled is nothing like how we say it.

Okay. Let's look at elision in some words now. So the reason this happens is we have

this sound called "schwa" in English, and we use it all the time. And we replace vowels

with this sound when there's a stress in the word. So there's one stress, and then the

other vowels may sometimes be replaced with the schwa. And that means that the way the

word is spelled and the way we say the word is often very different, as you will see,

because schwa doesn't have its own letter in the alphabet. It can be any of the vowels.

So let's look at the word here, okay? Sometimes, you will anticipate there being as many syllables

as there are different vowel sounds in the world. So you may anticipate "choc-o-late".

But we don't say it that way. We just say it with two syllables, "choc-late", like that,

with the stress at the beginning.

Looking now at this word, there are two ways to say this word, okay? I would say the preferred

way of, like, you know, you're saying this word correctly, is "comp-ra-ble". And I think

the British accent does this a lot. It's just reducing the syllables in the words, okay?

It becomes -- you anticipate "comp-a-ra-ble"; you anticipate four syllables, but you get

three, "comp-ra-ble" with the stress on the first. So the stress being on the first, this

second vowel disappears there. Elision of schwa after the first stressed syllable. So we don't want

it anymore. Bye-bye. And that's why we get comp-ra-ble". But you will hear sometimes

people who say "com-pa-ra-ble". You will also sometimes hear that. But I will say -- turning

around again -- this one is preferred.

Looking next at this word. Not "com-for-ta-ble", but again, you do hear it sometimes. We get

the same rule happening, elision of the vowel after the first stress. So the stress was

here at the beginning of the word. So that means the next vowel undergoes elision. Now,

we get a three-syllable word, "comf-ta-ble". As I mentioned, some people will say the word

in a four-syllable way like this, "com-for-ta-ble". But yeah. Again, all the ones in this section,

I'd say, the preferred version or the supposedly standard version is with fewer syllables.

Looking at this word now. "In-tres-ting". How many syllables did you hear in that word?

Three-syllable word. Not "int-e-res-ting". Again, the stress is at the beginning on the

word, so which one do we lose? We're losing this one. We're not hearing that vowel when

we actually say it.

There's a second rule here now: elision of schwa following M and R. Let's have a look.

So having a look at the word "camera", after the M, elision of schwa -- not saying it,

in other words. So it becomes "cam-ra", not "cam-e-ra".

Next word, "family". I didn't say it with elision, that's why I'm -- you will hear people

say "fam-i-ly", but sometimes you will hear this way, "fam-ly", just with two syllables.

Elision of schwa after M means that we're not saying the 'I' there, so it just becomes


Next word. How many syllables do you anticipate here? There are three vowels. Maybe you think

there are going to be three syllables. But with this word again, we're doing elision;

we're making it shorter. The stress is at the beginning, "mem-ry". We're not saying

the O sound. We're not hearing it in the word. "Mem-o-ry", we're not hearing it like that.

We're saying "mem-ry".

Let's look at "laboratory". In this word, "la-bor-a-to-ry", five syllables, but we don't

say it like that. We say, "la-bo-ra-try". Words with TORY in them, we're not saying

"tory", like the political party. We leave it. So it becomes "la-bo-ra-try".

Changing to this side, now. After R, we elide the -- we're going to keep that one actually.

That one's there. Get rid of that one, "sec-ra-try, sec-ra-try". What about this word here? "Li-bry."

In this word, we're not saying that one. Some people do say "li-bra-ry", but because I'm

talking about elision today, I'm just mentioning how we're turning an otherwise three-syllable

word into a two-syllable word, "lib-ry", one of the pronunciations of that word in British


I'm looking lastly at this word, "memorable", "mem-ra-ble". We're not hearing an O here,

"mem-ra-ble". So goodbye O. And then we make a three-syllable word, not "mem-o-ra-ble".

So you can thank the schwa sound in British English for elision and how words are not

said the way they look, which can be a really confusing aspect of our pronunciation. But

now you've got these words, I really think that can help you acquire that laziness in

your pronunciation, which is kindly of normal for native speakers.

Please go to the EngVid website now. You can do the quiz -- do the quiz on this. And before

you go, most importantly, please subscribe here because I do other videos on pronunciation,

British English, things like that, all kinds of lessons, really. And I also have a second

channel, my other YouTube channel. There's even more stuff about British English if you're

particularly interested in British English. I'm going to go now. So yeah. I really want

you to come back, and -- yes. See you later.