Study the OF 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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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to go over the reduction of the word OF. OF is a preposition, and prepositions are function words. Function words are the words that will generally be unstressed in a sentence. In this particular case, the word may also reduce, which means that one of the sounds will change or be dropped. The word ‘of’ on its own, outside of the context of a sentence, will be pronounced with the UH as in BUTTER vowel and the V consonant. Of, of.When we reduce this word, we may drop the consonant altogether. When we use OF in a sentence, we’ll want to use the schwa, so, less jaw drop, and it will be very fast. If the next word begins with a consonant, you can drop the V as well. If the next word begins with a vowel or diphthong, you’ll want to keep the V sound. Then you’ll have the case of an ending consonant and a beginning vowel, so the V can help you link the two words together. Let’s look at some examples. It’s one of my favorites. Here, I’ve dropped the V. OF is simply the schwa. Uh, uh, uh-my, uh-my, it’s one of my, it’s one of my favorites.Another example: A lot of offices have the same policy. Here, the word after OF begins with a vowel, so I’m not going to drop the V. I’m going to use it to link the word ‘of’ and ‘office’. When we have a word that ends in a consonant, when the next word begins with a vowel or diphthong, it’s a great opportunity to link. So, we think of the ending V actually as beginning the next word. So instead of ‘offices’, we’ll have ‘voffices’, ‘uh-voffices’, of offices. Linking will help smooth out your speech and prevent it from being choppy. Very important in American English. Of offices, a lot of offices. A lot of offices.It’s part of a bigger plan. Again, the next word begins with a vowel. I’m going to link with the V sound, vv, vv. Of a, of a. It’s part of a bigger plan. It’s one of the best videos I’ve seen. Here the next word begins with a consonant, so I can drop the V if I want. Uh-the, uh-the, one of the, one of the, It’s one of the best videos I’ve seen.Now let’s look at OF THEM. This set of words can be reduced two different ways. The word THEM can be reduced to the schwa/M sound, dropping the TH.
So, we can drop the TH of THEM. That means we’ll want to keep the V of OF, because the next word begins with a vowel, the schwa: uh-vm. A lot of them are good. But, let’s say we don’t drop the TH. Then we can drop the V. A lot of them thought that. uh-them, uh-them, a lot of them thought that. I think in most cases I would drop the TH and keep the V. But, this just goes to show there isn’t any one right way to deal with reductions in a sentence.
I hope this helps you understand the reduction of ‘of’. Practice: make a video of you saying a few sentences with of, and post it on YouTube as a video response to this video. I can’t wait to watch.
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.