What are Reductions in English Language?
What are Reductions in English Language?

What are Reductions in English Language?

“Linguistic reductions are lost sounds in words. This happens in spoken English.

For instance, “going to” changes to “gonna”. The most widely known reductions are contractions. Most contractions are reductions of ‘not’. For instance, “cannot” becomes “can’t”. Many contractions are reductions between a subject and a verb.

For instance, “He is...” becomes “He’s…

Some reductions are well known to ESL learners; for instance, the reduction of a verb and “to”. Examples are “going to” becoming “gonna” and “want to” becoming “wanna”.

Linguistic reductions are part of natural English. They are not slang, or improper.” – Wikipedia.

1. wanna/ gonna/ outta/ hafta/ hasta/ hada/

Words like want to/ going to/ have to/ has to/ had to/ ought to are often said in an utterance. They are so often spoken every day that speakers tend to reduce them into the following forms:

         Written Words   Spoken Utterance

  • Want to                    wanna
  • Going to                  gonna
  • Ought to                  oudda
  • Has to                      hasta
  • Had to                     hada

The above examples show that not only the words are shorter, but the sounds are of course shorter, which eventually speed up the utterance. For better understanding, please see the following examples:

  • I wanna get it done soon.
  • I am gonna visit Japan next month.
  • I outta try harder in the test.
  • You hafta make sure someone will pick you up.
  • He hasta report to the office before 5:00 p.m.
  • She hada get a ride last night when she was too sleepy to drive.

2. n/ er/ fer

Words like and/or/for are also used in most of the sentences. And they are pronounced in very short and weak sounds. Please see the following examples:

Written Words                    Spoken Utterance

  • and                                      
  • or                                          er
  • for                                         fer  

For better understanding, please refer to the following examples:

  • Cream n sugar?
  • Either coffee er tea is fine with me.
  • Fer information, please call 2635-8284.

3. Reduction of h Sound

When “him” and “her” are used as an object in a sentence, and the sentence is on the verb, the h sound of these two words are often removed and the rest of the word is pronounced rather weak by linking with the previous sound; either a vowel or a consonant..

Written Words                                  Spoken Utterance

  • him                                                     im
  • her                                                      er

For better understanding, please refer to the following examples:

  • A: Did you see John?
  • Yeah, I saw_im in the hallway.
  • A: So, do you like Mary?
  • Yeah, I like_er a lot.

4. Unreleased Consonants

Words with final sounds p/b/d/t/k/g are found everywhere in spoken utterances, and native speakers tend to make these sounds unreleased. But very often non-native speakers pronounce these sounds with very strong stress, which also affect the speed of their utterance. The trick to pronounce these words is to place more stress on the vowel.

     Written Words                                       Spoken Utterance

  • soup                                                          soup
  • rob                                                            rob
  • road                                                          road
  • it                                                               it
  • take                                                           take
  • bag                                                            ba

For better understanding, please refer to the following examples:

  • The soup tastes good.
  • Are you gonna rob the bank?
  • You can stop by Jackson Road and pick me up.
  • It is very interesting to read Harry Potter.
  • Take this book and read it during the weekend.
  • I like this bag more than that one.

5. Reductions of ‘of’ –

There are three changes that can occur with the word ‘of’.

1. The “o” in “of” is often pronounced using the schwa sound “- uh”. 

  • “some of”  becomes  some uh”
  • “He likes some of the books” becomes “He likes some uh the books.”

2. If a vowel follows “of” it is often pronounced with a schwa + v (uhv)

  • “most of” becomes most uhv”
  • “Most of all, you can’t drink’” becomes “Most uhv all, you can’t drink.”

 3. If the sound of the letter before “of” is a “t” ,there is a flap in addition to the reduction. 

  • “out of” becomes “outta”
  •  “He’s out of money” becomes “He’s outta money.”

6. Reductions of ‘and’

And is often reduced to ‘n’. 

  • “movies and books” becomes “movies n books”
  • “I like movies and books” becomes “I like movies n books.”

7. Reductions of ‘or’

Or is often reduced to ‘r’.

  • “pencil or pen” becomes “pencil r pen”
  • “Either a pencil or pen will do.” becomes “Either a pencil r a pen will do.”

8. Reductions of ‘for’

For is often reduced and changed to fer

  • “for instance” becomes “fer instance
  • “What’s for lunch?” becomes “What’s fer lunch?”

Other Reductions Used in Utterance 

Because => Kuz

  • I don’t wanna go to the party, kuz it sounds boring. 

Bet you => Betcha 

  • I betcha can’t eat ten hot dogs!

Could have + consonant => Kuda 

  • You kuda gone with me, if you’d told me in plenty of time. 

Could have + vowel => kuday 

  • I was so hungry, I kuday eaten a horse. 

Did you => didja/ didya 

  • Didja like the film? 

Don’t you => doncha 

  • Doncha know?

Get you => Getcha 

  • I’ll getcha a drink. 

Give me => gimme 

  • Gimme all your money! 

Going to + verb => Gonna 

  • I’m gonna do my homework now. 

Got you => gotcha 

  • I gotcha that candy bar you asked for. 

Has to => hasta 

  • He hasta know how much he means to me. 

Have to => hafta 

  • I hafta clean the house before I go out.

IMPORTANT:  The reductions are being used by native speakers a lot. If you have observed yourself, when listening to native speakers you hardly comprehend them, because they speak so fast and use reduction. In order to, familiarized yourself with spoken English, I recommend you to listen to native speakers in a move, lecture, news etc. and concentrate how do they use and pronounce contractions. 

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