Free Sounds Guidebook

Speak Clear and Fast English: Consonant to Consonant Linking


(Video Transcript)


Hi, I’m Julie with San Diego Voice and Accent, and in this video you’ll learn about the most complicated form of linking: consonant to consonant linking and the rules of consonant assimilation.


What makes English sound so smooth? It’s the linking, or the way that words and syllables are connected to each other. In stead of sound ing like this, English sounds like one long word when it is spoken. Linking happens as often as it can, so if you want to sound smooth and natural, you need to master linking in connected speech.


I’ve published many videos about linking - linking consonants to vowels, vowels to vowels, and consonants to consonants. In this video, I’m going to discuss consonant to consonant linking in more detail, because this type of linking is the most complicated to learn about. There are many different consonant to consonant combinations, and many ways that consonants can link together. So today, you’ll practice a variety of consonant to consonant linking combinations. 


Linking the phrase aggressive vampires

We’ll start with an easier one. When one word ends in a consonant, and the next word begins with the same consonant, especially when it is a fricative consonant like the F, V, or S consonants, the consonants may combine into one, slightly longer, consonant when you link the words together.


For example, the phrase aggressive vampires can be linked by combining the V consonant at the end of aggressive with the initial V consonant at the beginning of vampires, which results in one V sound.


Aggressive vampires


Assimilation: Linking the phrase have to

Now let’s move on to something a bit more complicated, and I first want to discuss a process called assimilation because this is what determines the rules of consonant to consonant linking.


When sounds come next to each other in a word or syllable, the sounds may change in order to become more similar to each other. This is assimilation, and it happens often in spoken English when linking words and syllables together.


Let me give you an example of consonant to consonant assimilation that you might already be familiar with. In the phrase have to, listen to how I pronounce the final V in the word have


Have to


In this phrase, the final V in have is almost always unvoiced, which means the V is pronounced like an F consonant. Why? Because of assimilation. The T in to is voiceless, so in order to make the link between these words as smooth as possible, the V consonant assimilates with the T consonant, and they become more similar with respect to voicing.


Assimilation: Linking the phrase does she

Assimilation can also occur in the place of articulation.  Let’s look at this phrase as an example (does she). The word does is transcribed with a final Z consonant. 




But in the phrase does she, the place of articulation of the final Z consonant may change to assimilate with the SH consonant in she. The voicing element might also change. Listen to what that sounds like.


Does she, with a voiced ZH consonant, or does she, with a voiceless SH consonant.


Assimilation: Linking the phrase What's your address?

There are also examples of more obvious forms of assimilation, in which the two consonants combine to form an entirely new consonant. When this happens, you might have assimilation of voicing, place of articulation, and air release, also called the manner of articulation. Here’s an example:


The phrase what’s your address can be pronounced just like how it is transcribed. 


What’s your address?


You can pronounce a clear ts cluster at the end of the word what’s, and then a clear /j/ consonant at the beginning of the word your.


What’s your


What’s your address?


Or, you can pronounce it like this:


What’s your address?


In this example, the ts ending assimilates with the initial /j/ consonant, and an entirely new consonant is created: the CH consonant.


What’s your address?


The reason why assimilation occurs is because it makes pronunciation faster and smoother. Sometimes the assimilation isn’t very obvious, which can make it challenging for non-native speakers to identify and imitate. But the more you are aware of assimilation, the more likely you’ll be to hear it, identify it, and imitate it.


Consonant to consonant linking: Practice

Let’s practice a few examples of consonant to consonant linking using different forms of consonant assimilation. You’ll hear me say the word or phrase three times, and then you’ll have a chance to repeat. Try not to focus on the way the word is spelled - instead, pay attention to what you hear, and then imitate what you hear.


Is soup Ok? 

With lemon 

I can go. 


Yes, you are! 

Would you help me? 

I hope you enjoyed the video! Thanks so much for watching, and good luck as you practice consonant to consonant linking!

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

Are you ready to transform your English skills, but you’re not sure where to start?

Start here!

Sign up to receive my free guidebook to the sounds of American English! Learn how to pronounce every sound of American English with close-up pictures, phonetic symbols, and real-life MRIs!

Get the free guidebook!