The use of weak forms is an essential part of English speech and you must learn to use the weak forms of 33 English words if you want your English to sound English. Some words have more than one weak form and the follolwing list tells you when to use one and when the other.
|and as but||ən əz bət||Black and white. As good as gold. But why not?|
|than||ðən||Better than ever.|
|that||ðət||I admit that I did it.|
|(The word that in phrases like that man, that's good is always pronounced [ðæt] and never weakened.)|
|he||i:||Did he win?|
|him||im||Give him two.|
|his||iz||I like his tie.|
|her||з:||Take her home.|
|(At the beginning of word groups the forms [hi;], [him], [hiz], [hз:] should be used: He likes it. Her face is red.)|
|them||ðəm||Send them by. post.|
|us||s (only in: let's)||Let's do it now.|
|əs||He would let us do it.|
|do||də||How do they know?|
|[də] is only used before consonants. Before vowels, use the strong form [du:]: How do I know?)|
|does||dəz||When does the train leave?|
|am||m (after I)||I'm afraid.|
|əm (elsewhere)||When am I to be there?|
|(before consonants)||The girls are beautiful.|
|(before vowels)||The men are ugly.|
|be||bi||Don't be rude.|
|(after [p, t, k, f])|
|(after vowels and voiced consonants except [z, ʒ, ʤ] )|
|(After [s, z, ʃ, ʒ, ʧ, ʤ] the strong form [iz] is always used: Which is right?)|
|was has||wəz əz (after [s, z, ʃ, ʒ, ʧ, ʤ])||The weather was terrible! The place has changed.|
|s (after [p, t, k, f, Ɵ])||Jack's gone.|
|z (elsewhere)||John's been sick.|
|have||v (after I, we, you, they)||You've broken it.|
|əv (elsewhere)||The men have gone.|
|had||d (after I, she, he, we, you, they)||They'd left home.|
|əd (elsewhere)||The day had been fine.|
|(At the beginning of word groups the forms [hæz, hæv, hæd] should be used: Has anyone found? When has, have, had are full verbs they should always be pronounced [hæz, hæv, hæd]: I have two brothers.)|
|can shall will||kən ʃl l (after I, he, she, we, you, they)||How can I help? I shall be cross. They'll give it away.|
|l (after consonants except )||This'll do.|
|a||əl . ə (before consonants)||The boy will lose and the girs will win. A shilling a dozen|
|an||ən (before vowels)||Have an apple!|
|the||ðə (before consonants)||The more the merrier.|
|(Before vowels the strong form [ði:] should be used: The aunts and the uncles.)|
|some||səm||I need some paper.|
|(When some means a certain quantity it is always stressed and therefore pronounced [sʌm]: Some of my friends.|
|at for||ət fə (before consonants)||Come at once. Come for tea.|
|fər (before vowels)||Come for a meal.|
|from of to||frəm əv tə (before consonants)||I sent it from London, the Queen of England. To stay or to go?|
|(Before vowels the strong form [tu:] should be used: I wanted to ask you.)|
Exercise I.Practise the following:
|A- Weak forms(shwa)||I B. Strong forms(full value)|
|I swallowed afly.||You say abook, achild,|
|Analligator bit him.||but anapple, anelephant.|
|What amI doing?||What amI to do?|
|I'm singing a song.||AmI serious? Yes, I'm afraid lam!|
|Bread andbutter.||Trifle or jelly? Trifle andjelly, please!|
|Over andover andover again.||Andshe's gossiping ...|
|Where aremy glasses?||They aremine, they are,they are.|
|Her cakes areawful!||Areyou alone?|
|I'm ashappy asa king! ] Well, asfar asI can see...||As I pour it on, you stir it. As I was saying before you interrupted.|
|I got it ata cheap shop. We're here atlast!||He is selling it — but ata price. What are you staring at?|
|I'm ugly butintelligent! They say they are, butthey are not.||Butme no 'buts'. Butfor me, you would all be dead.|
|If you cando it, so canI. I cansee a star.||CanI come too? Mother says I can.|
|She said she couldcome. I'm so angry I couldswear.||Couldyou possibly help me? There! I told you I could!|
|When dowe begin? D'you understand?||Dolook at that funny man! What doyou do all day long?|
|What time doesit arrive? What does2 and 2 make?||Doesit work? Of course it does. Oh, she doeslook nice!|
|My sister's prettier thanyours! It's easier thanI expected.||not really possible|
|He said thatI could have it. Tell her thatI shan't be coming.||That's the man who shot him. Thatbook belongs to me. I know that.|
|Thetiger ate thehunter. They dragged thebody into the house.||Are you theWilliam Shakespeare? My dear, they had themost awful row.|
|Tell themI'm just coming. She gave themeach a pound.||Don't give it to us, give it to them. Themas asks no questions, hears no lies!|
|Is therea party tonight? There's a burglar in my bedroom.||Look, therehe is, over there! Theregoes my last penny.|
|I went toLondon tosee the Queen. I wanted togo tothe cinema.||Who are you giving those flowers to? They got up toall kinds of mischief.|
|He told usto come back later. What do you want usto do?||So you told the Joneses, but not us! He's not going with you, he's coming with us.|
|It wasa dark and stormy night. I looked, but no one wasthere.||Wasthere any left in the bottle? I told you there was.|
|They weretelling us about it. Hundreds of people weredrowned.||Wereyou talking to me? Ididn't know where you were.|
|I'd like to have a word with you. Well, what wouldyou have done?||Wouldyou mind controlling your dog? Yes, I jolly well would!|
|Where are youqoing? What have youdone with it?||You think youknow everything. No one was talking to you.|
|Could you buy one on yourway home? Don't put yourhands in your pockets.||Yourapples are rather small. I wouldn't like to be in yourshoes.|
Exercise II.Transcribe, intone and read the following dialogues.
1. What a Boring Book You're Reading!
Jonathan: What are you doing, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: What am ĩ doing? I'm reading. What does it look as though I'm doing?
Jonathan: What are you reading?
Elizabeth: A book, silly. What do you think? You can see I'm reading a book.
Jonathan: I wish I could have a look at it. Do you think I could have a look at it, Elizabeth? Elizabeth, is it an interesting book?
Elizabeth; Yes, a very interesting book. But an adult book. OK, come and have a look at it and then go away and leave me alone.
Jonathan: But what an awful book! It looks as boring as anything. How can you look at a book like that? What does it say?
Elizabeth: Jonathan! You're an awfully boring and annoying little boÿ! Go away!
2. What Have You Done with Mabel?
Serena: Barnabas, what have you done with that packet of biscuits?
Barnabas: Well, there's a sort of an alligator in a cage over there. He looked sort of hungry.
Serena: Barnabas, you didn't ...? But you must never feed an animal in a cage. I should think you've given it a bit of a stomach ache.
Barnabas: He's been brought here from America.
Serena: And anyway, I bought those biscuits for tea. What shall I tell Mother?
Barnabas: I wish I'd got some cake for him as well, Serena. He's a nice alligator.
Serena: But, my goodness, what have you done with little Mabel? Where's she gone?
Barnabas: Well, she's... sort of... gone. He did look so sad so far from America, and very hungry.
3. There's Nowhere to Go in the Jungle
Chris: Hi, Pete. All set for the final scene? Hey, what's the matter? You look as pale as a glass of vodka!
Pete: Barry and John have gone. Just upped and gone. While you were looking for the lake. I tried to stop them but there was nothing at all I could do — nothing that any of us could do.
Chris: What do you mean, gone? There's nowhere to go. In the middle of a Bolivian jungle? How would they get out?
Pete: They said there was a man who'd take them to the river — for an enormous fee — and that anything was better than dying of heat and mosquito bites in a South American jungle.
Chris: The miserable bastards! Well, go and get your camera, Pete. And the rest of the crew. We can survive without them. And I hope there's an alligator waiting for them at the river!
Exercise III.Transcribe and read the following:
1. Hello, is that you, Peter? — Yes, is that you, Betty? — Yes, can you hear me? — No, I can't. Can you speak louder? — Is that better? — Yes, that's fine. Can you come over today? — I can't come today but I can come tomorrow.
2. One day two friends went for a walk. One of them had a dog. "See here, John," one of the men said. "I'm going to put this coin here in the ground. My dog must find it. My dog is small but clever. He is as clever as I am. There goes my dog!"
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