‘As’ and ‘was’ are often reduced in American English. This makes it easier to say them quickly and provide important rhythmic contrast in sentences. Learn how they are reduced and how they should sound in conversational English.
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to go over the reduction of the words WAS and AS.
Many words in English reduce in sentences. WAS and AS are two examples of this. When a word reduces, that means a sound is changed or dropped.
As. By itself, the word is pronounced with the AA as in BAT vowel and the Z sound. As. Most of the time, in a sentence, we reduce the vowel to the schwa: uhz. As, uhz. Why do we do that? It doesn’t sound clear. That’s ok. In American English we have established this as a reduction. Even if it’s really fast, a native speaker will pick up on it. In fact, we want it to be really fast so that the stressed syllables, the longer syllables, pop out of the sentence even more, are even more clear. It’s the contrast of long vs. short that’s important in American English, so make your short really short. Reducing the vowel to the schwa makes it easier to say it quickly. As, uhz. To make the schwa sound, the jaw doesn’t really need to drop, uhz, uhz. It’s just a quick, quick vowel before the Z sound. To make the Z, the tongue tip is forward and down, zz, teeth are together, and buzz the vocal cords. Uhz, uhz, uhz. Let’s practice with some sentences.
“As long as she says it’s ok, it’s ok with me.” As long as, as long as. Uhz, uhz, uhz.
“It’s not as if I didn’t already know that.” As if, as if. Uhz, uhz, uhz. As if.
“I’m not as tall as her.” As tall as, as tall as. Uhz, uhz.
WAS makes the same reduction. On its own it’s pronounced ‘was’, with the UH as in BUTTER vowel. But in a sentence, we often reduce it to the schwa, making it very fast. Wuz, wuz. Just start with the lips in a rounded position to make the W consonant, wuz. The rest is just like ‘as’. Let’s practice with some sentences.
“I was on the phone.” Wuz, wuz. Was on the phone.
“She was already gone.” Wuz, wuz. Was already.
“It was really good.” Wuz, wuz.
“He was there.” Wuz, wuz.
These words are not reduced all the time. I’m thinking of the movie Clueless where one of the characters says “AS IF!” There will always be cases where native speakers will choose to stress and not reduce these words. But most of the time, reduce, reduce, reduce. If you work on integrating these reductions into your speech, they will help to smooth out your speech, help your words connect better, and give your speech greater contrast between important and less important words. You’ll sound more natural, relaxed, and American.
If there’s a word or phrase you’d like help pronouncing, please put it in the comments below. Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list by clicking here or in the description below to keep up with all of my latest videos – it’s free.
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.