This series has been so popular! In this video, you’ll continue your learning with the 41st through 50th most common words in the English language. Share this Perfect Pronunciation video with all the English language learners you know!
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Today you are getting the next video in the 100 most common words in English series, this is video 5. In this series, were studying the real pronunciation. This is likely different from what you learned in English class. You see, in American English, we have all sorts of words that are unstressed or even reduced: that means we change the pronunciation. The set of the 100 most common words in American English contains many, many words that reduce. If you haven’t already seen video 1 and the other videos in this series, I do suggest you start there. These videos build one on top of the next, so click here to watch video one.
Today, were starting with number 41, the word ‘so’. Does this word reduce? Yes it does. Fully pronounced, it has the OH as in NO diphthong. So, so. I don’t think so. So. Your hair looks so good. So. But you’ll hear it reduced to ‘suh’ when its used as a filler word at the beginning of a sentence. As a filler word, the word doesn’t really have meaning. For example: So what do you think? So what do you think? So. So. So you’re going to need another one. So. So. You’ll definitely hear Americans do this.
Number 42: Up. Hey, we found another word that doesn’t reduce. This word will be stressed. Were on number 42 of the 100 most common words in American English, and this is only the third word that generally is always stressed. How amazing that so many words are unstressed or reduce! For this word, we have the UH as in BUTTER vowel and the P consonant, Up. Up. P is a stop consonant, which means we stop the air, up-, and release it, pp. The release is very light. Up, pp. But sometimes we don’t release stop consonants, like if it’s at the end of a thought group: What’s up? What’s up? There I’m not releasing the P. What’s up? Also we often skip the release if the next word begins with a consonant sound: What’s up, Mom? What’s up, Mom? My lips came together for the P, but then when they parted, rather than pp, the light escape of air, I just went right into the M sound.
I think ‘up’ is so common because its used in so many phrasal verbs. Crack up, break up, throw up, act up, creep up, butter up, burn up, bone up, just to name a few. There are so many phrasal verbs in English. At the beginning of 2017, I made a new video every day going over phrasal verbs. Click here to see that collection, or see the link in the video description.
Number 43: Out. Oh, this is funny. This is another word that is common in phrasal verbs. Work out, figure out, burn out, black out, block out, stand out, bring out. Not surprising that some of these phrasal verb parts are showing up on this list. There are a bunch without. And this word doesn’t reduce. We have the OW diphthong, ow, and the T consonant, out. Out. And just like P, T is a stop consonant. We don’t usually release it: tt– if it comes at the end of a thought group, or if the next word begins with a consonant.
Let’s look at some examples: Watch out! End of the phrase, an unreleased T. Watch out. I cut off the air, so it’s not: watch ow. Watch ow. That would just sound like there was no T. But with the abrupt stop, without the falling intonation, it sounds like a T to us. Watch out. You cant back out now. Out now. There, the T was followed by a word beginning with a consonant, another Stop T. Out now.
T is special: if the next word begins with a vowel or diphthong, then we flap it. A single rra– against the roof of the mouth. For example: Get out of here. Out of, out of. A Flap T to connect the two words. And did you notice the reduction of OF? Yep, that’s just the schwa. Of is word number 4 in the 100 most common words in English list.
Number 44. The word IF. This word is usually a conjunction and then, it’s unstressed. It’s said very quickly. Call me if you get lost. Me if you get, me if you get, here, its part of a string of unstressed words. Low in pitch, flat, said quickly. If, if, me if you. Call me if you get lost.
You might even hear this word reduced at the beginning of a sentence, just the F sound attached to the next word, no vowel: If you want leave, that’s okay. If she doesn’t care, that’s okay. Ff, ff. Reduced.
Number 45, the word about. This word can be a preposition, an adverb, or an adjective. It doesn’t reduce, none of the sounds change. Sometimes its stressed in a sentence, for example, I was out and about and thought I’d stop by. About, about. Its longer and it has more volume, a higher pitch: out and about. But it can also be unstressed: Its all about the timing. About the, about, about, its lower in pitch and volume, and a little less clear than when it was stressed, about. So, it can be unstressed, but nothing changes, it doesn’t reduce. Since its a two-syllable word, it still has one syllable that’s stressed, that’s a little clearer, even when the word is being used in an unstressed way.
Number 46. The word who. We already talked about one question word, and that was the word what. That word can reduce, we do drop the T if the next word begins with a D. But generally, question words don’t reduce. Generally, they’re stressed. Who was that? Who does she think she is? When who begins a question, it doesn’t reduce. It’s the H sound and the OO as in BOO vowel. Who, who. But sometimes we use the word who in the middle of a sentence. Then it can reduce. For example: Anyone who wants to come can come. Anyone who wants. Did you notice how I reduced that? I dropped the W! It was just the OO vowel. Oo, anyone who. This is a reduction you might hear Americans do.
Number 47: The word get. A verb, this word is a content word and is generally stressed in a sentence. So this is the 5th word we’ve found in our list of the 100 most common words in English that I feel confident I can say is always stressed. Just 5 out of 47! Wow! Unstressed and reduced words are so common!
Let’s talk about the pronunciation. G consonant, EH as in BED vowel, and the T. We already talked about an ending T in out. The same rules apply here because the T comes at the end of the word, just after a vowel or diphthong. If the word ends a though group or is followed by a consonant, it will be a Stop T. Example: Ill get the biggest one. Get the, get the. Abrupt stop. Ill get the biggest one. If the next word begins with a vowel or a diphthong, then you will flap the T: I don’t get it. Get it, get it, (flap). Do you hear the Flap? Get it. I don’t get it.
Number 48. The word which. This word can be stressed or unstressed, depending on how it’s being used in a sentence. But nothing changes, it doesn’t reduce. So, stress, it’s which. Which do you want? Which, which. Up-down shape of stress. But unstressed, its lower in pitch and flat: which, which. The movie, which I saw last night, was terrible. Which, which. Unstressed. Let’s talk about the pronunciation. It begins with WH. This can be pronounced two ways: first, a pure W sound. This is how I’ve been pronouncing it. Ww, ww, which. The other to pronounce it, which I think is more old-fashioned, maybe its more common in British English, is which a little escape of air first, which. Do you hear that? HH, hh, which. This is actually how my Mom pronounces WH- words, and I made a video with her about these two possible pronunciations. Click here or in the video description to see that video.
W, IH as in SIT vowel, and CH. Which. Which stressed, and which unstressed. Quick question: Did studying this word make you think of any other words? Which and witch are homophones when you use the clean W for which. That means they are two totally different words, different spellings, different meanings, but they have the same pronunciation.
Number 49: Go. A verb. Lets conjugate it: I go, you go, she goes, just add a light Z at the end of go for goes, she goes, he goes, we go they go. Yes, in this form, I would say, this word is always stressed! The G consonant and the OH diphthong. Jaw drop, then lip rounding. Go, go. Goes. But you know what? There’s another conjugation for this word: the –ing form. Going. I’m going to go to the mall. There I’m using the –ing and the infinitive. Going – to go. Now, if you’ve seen any of my real-life English videos, or any of my speech analysis videos, then you know the phrase going to is very common, and you know, we do reduce that. What do we reduce it to? Do you know? Going to? Let me say that sentence again: I’m going to go to the mall. There. Did you hear it? I’ll do it again. I’m gonna go to the mall. Right. Gonna. One of the most common reductions in all of English.
Now, occasionally I get a comment from someone saying, Gonna is not proper English. Hmm. Not true. I would never tell anyone to write it. Ok? Don’t write it! But its perfectly natural and normal in spoken English. It’s proper. It’s a beautiful reduction! I made a video several years ago where I took a couple of presidential speeches. And I found examples of gonna. So even world leaders giving important speeches to large groups of people use this reduction. If you’re interested in that video click here or in the video description.
What is the pronunciation of gonna? First syllable is stressed. We have the G consonant, the UH as in BUTTER vowel, the N, and then the schwa in the unstressed syllable. Gonna. Gonna. If you have not already noticed this reduction, now that you’ve learned it, you’re gonna hear it all the time. It’s everywhere.
Number 50. Wow, we’re halfway down the list. What is number 50? Me. A pronoun, which is a function word, which means it will generally be unstressed in a sentence. It doesn’t reduce, we don’t change any of the sounds, but its flat in pitch and said quickly compared to the stressed words in the sentence. He gave me his number. Gave and number are stressed, the rest of the words, unstressed. He gave me his number. Me his, me his, both flat in pitch, unstressed. Do you hear how I’m reducing the word his? Dropping the H? Wow, did we cover that? Yeah, we did. That was number 23.
We made it through the next set of 10. Great job. We’re starting to get into a few more words that are reliably stressed here. I looked ahead and the next video has two of my favorite reductions. Let’s keep going down this list of the 100 most common words in English to study the pronunciation, and I don’t mean the full or official pronunciation, I mean how the word is actually used in a sentence in American English. Look for the next installment in this series, coming soon.
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachels English.