Study the CAN reduction. There are many reductions in conversational American English. It’s important to know what they are to improve listening comprehension, but also to use the reductions in speech yourself. They are a key part to sounding natural.
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>I can get that for you. Do you notice how the word ‘can’ is pronounced in that sentence? I can get that for you. In this video, we’ll go over how to pronounce the word ‘can’ in everyday speech.
The word ‘can’ can be a noun, as in, It’s a trash can, or, The beans are from a can, they’re not fresh. In this case, ‘can’ is pronounced with the ‘aa’ as in ‘bat’ vowel. So it begins with the K consonant sound, then the AA vowel, ca-, ca-, and finally the N consonant sound. Can, can.
You may notice, the AA vowel does change somewhat in the word ‘can’. This is because it’s followed by an N, and anytime this AA vowel is followed by a nasal consonant, that would be N, M, or NG, it, ca–, uh, uh, has an uh vowel that sort of takes over the AA vowel before the N, even though this uh sound is not written in IPA. So, can, can.
So, the word ‘can’ as a noun is a content word. Therefore, it is generally not reduced in a sentence. But the word ‘can’ as a verb is generally an auxiliary verb, or, a helping verb. And these are function words, and they will reduce.
So when is the verb ‘can’ a helping verb? Let’s look at two examples, answering the question, Who can do this? If I simply say, I can, can is the only verb, so it won’t reduce: can, with the AA sound. I can. But if I want to say I can do it, the word ‘can’ now becomes kn, kn. I can do it. And that’s because it’s an auxiliary verb to the main verb do. I can, I can do it. Can, kn, kn.
When it reduces, the word ‘can’ is pronounced with the schwa sound. It is very fast, it is lower in pitch, kn, kn, kn, kn. The K consonant sound, schwa, N. Kn, kn. I can do it. When you reduce the word ‘can,’ you want to make sure that it links to the words around it. You don’t want gaps before or after ‘can’ when it’s pronounced kn. I — kn — do it. We don’t want that. I can do it. I can do it. We want it very linked to the words around it.
Let’s look at a few more examples. I can bring food. I can, I can, I can. Linked up to the word I. I can bring food.
We can stay the whole time. We can stay, we can stay. All linked together. We can stay the whole time. They can have it, kn, kn, they can. They can have it. She can come with us. She kn, she kn, she can come with us. You can have my ticket. Kn, kn, you can, you can, you can have my ticket. Mary can do it herself. Kn, kn, Mary can, Mary can, Mary can do it herself. Put it in the garbage can. Do you notice, the word ‘can’ doesn’t reduce here. I snuck in a case where the ‘can’ is a noun. So it’s a content word, it won’t reduce. Put it in the garbage can. John can, John can, John can pick us up.
‘Can’ is often an auxiliary verb within a sentence. In these cases, make sure it does reduce. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.