Speakers connect words when speaking naturally and it can be hard to understand the individual words. When people speak naturally, they do not say a word, stop, and then say the next word. Some two word groups are joined together to help with the rhythm. The pronunciation of the end and the beginning of the words may change too. These changes are part of ‘connected speech’.
To understand connected speech, you need to know the difference between vowels and consonants. The 5 vowels are: a, e, i, o, u. Consonants are all the other letters of the English alphabet. It will also be helpful to learn the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), so that you can learn the sounds. The IPA sounds and the English alphabet are not always the same. Tophonetics is a great website that will change a word or sentence into IPA.
Learn more about the five main types of connected speech.
Catenation (linking words)
Linking consonant to vowel: connect the final consonant in the first word to the vowel that starts the next word. This will make it sound like the second word starts with a consonant.
- I want this orange –> thi sorange
- This afternoon –> thi safternoon
- Cats or dogs? –> Ca tsor dogs?
- I want that orange –> tha dorange
Intrusion (adding an extra sound)
Linking vowel to vowel: when the first-word finishes in a vowel sound and the next word starts with a vowel sound, connect the 2 words and add an extra sound. The three sounds added are /w/, /r/ or /j/. /j/ sounds like the ‘y’ in yellow.
- I saw a movie –> I saw ra movie
- Law and order –> Law rand order
- Tuna oil –> Tuna roil
- Victoria and Albert museum –> Victoria rand Albert museum
- Do it –> Do wit
- Go out –> Go wout
- True or false? –> True wor false?
- How are you? –> How ware you?
- I agree –> I jagree
- He asked –> He jasked
- She answered –>She janswered
- Tea or coffee? –> Tea jor coffee?
Elision (deleting a sound)
If the first word finishes in a consonant sound and the next word starts with a consonant sound, the first sound disappears. This often happens with a /t/ or /d/ sound.
- Next door –> Nexdoor
- Dad take –> Datake
- Most common –> Moscommon
- Used to –> Useto
Assimilation (joining sounds to make a new sound)
Sometimes when two consonant sounds are joined, it is very difficult to pronounce the new sound. A new sound is made instead. This often happens with /t/ and /j/ which make /ʧ/. Note: ʧ = ch. It also happens with /d/ and /j/ which make /ʤ/. Note: ʤ = dg.
- Don’t you — donʧu
- Meet you — meeʧu
- Did you — diʤu
- Would you — wuʤu
Geminates (twin sounds)
These are like twins — two of the same consonant sounds back-to-back. When the same letter ends a word and starts the next word, you should connect the two words in your speech. In this connection, you will say only one sound of that letter.
- Social life –> socialife
- Pet turtle –> Peturtle
- I want to –> I wanto
For more practice: