The use of contractions in spoken English

My wife works as a translator and when she puts a German and English text side-by-side, it is always the case that the German text is much longer. The English language is more compact and one way to make words shorter is by uniting verbs with personal pronouns. In spoken English, it is more common to use contractions than the full version of words.

Here are the contractions for the verb to be:

  • I am – I’m – ime – rhymes with ‘dime’
  • You are – You’re – yor – rhymes with ‘more’
  • He is – He’s – heez – rhymes with ‘bees’
  • She is – She’s – sheez – rhymes with ‘sees’
  • It is – It’s – its – rhymes with ‘bits’
  • We are – We’re – wier – rhymes with ‘beer’
  • They are – They’re – thear – rhymes with ‘fair’
  • Are not – Aren’t – arnt – rhymes with ‘aunt’
  • Is not – Isn’t – iz-unt
  • Was not – Wasn’t – woz-unt
  • Were not – Weren’t – wurnt – rhymes with ‘learnt’

I want you to pay particular attention to the words he’s, she’s, isn’t, and wasn’t. Many English learners forget to pronounce the letter s like a /z/ sound. Remember, you need to hear a buzz sound when you pronounce those words.

And one more additional tip. The s at the end of he’s or she’s is pronounced like a hard /z/ before a vowel. Ex. He’s afraid.

But like a soft /z/ before a consonant. There is still a buzz sound, but it is not as strong. Ex. He’s different.

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