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Pronunciation and Listening in English Part 5

Loquus

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Whadya say?

Conjunctions – And, Or, But

 

This week we continue our examination with American English pronunciation and why it can be so difficult at times.

 

We’ve looked at content and function words. If you remember, content words are pronounced longer, louder and more clearly than function words. Content words are what you hear, because they have the meaning of the sentence.

 

If you can hear the content words, you can usually understand the sentence.

 

What else causes problems when listening in English? Actually, some very simple English words can cause problems because we don’t pronounce them the way you expect. Let’s look at conjunctions. Conjunctions are connecting words that join two ideas.

 

Conjunctions (also known by some as FANBOYS): For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So 

 

These are examples of function words. This means we pronounce them shorter, faster and less clearly than content words.


Take a look at the examples below. Say the examples to yourself.

 

1)    A and B

2)    1 or 2

 

How did you pronounce them?

That’s how many English Language learners pronounce them. And if you pronounce them like that, everyone will understand you!  But, you won’t sound natural, and it won’t sound natural.

 

Now listen to how a native English speaker says it.

 

1)    A and B

2)    1 or 2

 

Notice how fast that is. You don’t hear a complete word for and or or. They are so quick; you only hear an n sound or r sound.

 

Now look at the following examples. Say them to yourself and think about how the conjunctions are pronounced.

 

3)

a. Here and there

Here or there

b. Him and her

Him or her

c. Paper and pencil

Paper or pencil

d. Bread and milk

Bread or milk

e. Men and women

Men or Women

 

It is a little easier to notice it in simple phrases; however, how does it sound in longer sentences?

 

 

4)    I want to go to the store and the gas station.

 

Notice the sound between store and gas station. There are two function words in this sentence – and and the. It sounds a little like in the, doesn’t it?

 

Let’s look at another example.

 

 

5)    I can meet you at your house or you can come here.

 

The or in this sentence almost disappears, but it is there. You can hear a little … something, but it’s hard to understand.

 

It is these little sounds that cause so much difficulty in listening. However, once you become aware of it, you can understand English much more easily.


Here are some more examples you can examine if you like. Notice other examples of function words as well.

 

 

6)   

a. America and China

b. Mac or Windows

c. I like math and science

d. I’ve been to New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania

e. My brother wants to go to Las Vegas or Los Angeles

f. I like horror movies, yet I get scared easily.

g. It is difficult to work and go to school at the same time.

 

 

I hope this has provided you with a little more understanding of how to listen in English.

 

Thank you for reading – and listening.  

 

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