Free Sounds Guidebook

Word Reductions: Function Words


Have you ever heard this word before? Tuh. Tuh. I’m actually saying the word to, as in, I’m going to the store, but instead of pronouncing the full OO vowel, to, I reduced it to UH, tuh


Listen again, and I’ll use the reduced form tuh: I’m going to the store. I’m going to the store.


This type of word reduction is very common in spoken English, and it is what gives English its rhythm.


Native speakers will reduce words as often as they can. So learning how to use word reductions effectively will really help your English to sound more natural to a native speaker.


In normal English intonation, the words that are most commonly reduced are called function words. These words are usually unstressed when spoken in sentences, so they don’t receive the full pronunciation. Function words are the words that carry the grammar in the sentence.


Function words include:

  • Articles : A, An, The

  • Conjunctions: and, but, so, if

  • Prepositions: on, off, under

  • Pronouns: I, you, him, her

  • Helping verbs: am, be, do, can


You don’t need to memorize all the words that can be reduced in American English, but you should begin to listen for them when you hear native speakers, and then try to imitate what you hear.


I can’t discuss all word reductions in this video, so I’ll review some of the common word reductions in American English. 


The word to will reduce to tuh:


I want to go!


The concert is tonight.


Let’s meet up tomorrow.

The word for will reduce to fer:


I’d like a table for two.


What should we eat for dinner?

The words your and you’re  will reduce to yer:


Is this your car?


You’re doing great - keep it up!

The word you will reduce to yuh:


What are you doing? 


You need to do this today.

The word can will reduce to kn:


I can meet you at 5:00.


How can this be?


The word and reduces to an or n:


Peanut butter and jelly.


She and I are friends.

The word at reduces to uht:


Meet at nine.


Let’s sit at the table.

The pronouns he, him, her, his, and them are sometimes reduced and the first sound is dropped.


What did he want?


Give her this for me.


She likes him. 

Thanks so much for watching! And I'd love to hear from you - contact me to learn how we can work together to perfect your American English pronunciation!


Julie Cunningham | San Diego Voice and Accent Julie Cunningham | San Diego Voice and Accent Julie Cunningham | San Diego Voice and Accent

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