Linking and Reduction Rules in English

Linking and reduction allow us to connect sounds of words for smooth transitioning and to avoid awkward pauses. In spoken English, we have 3 basic ways of how to link words in a sentence and a unique way of how to reduce words.

In this article, we will learn how to link CONSONANT to CONSONANT, CONSONANT to VOWEL, and VOWEL to VOWEL.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these basic linking strategies.

Linking Consont to Consonant

When the same consonant sound is found at the end of one word and at the beginning of the next, there is no break in speech; rather, the consonant sound is simply held for a slightly longer time.

 Let’s consider the following example below:

 what time

 Instead of saying the words as two separate words, wha/t/ /t/ime, we link the last /t/ sound of the first word and the first /t/ sound in the second to make it as one word. So instead of saying, what time, it becomes, wha/t/ime.

Other examples are:

 Bad dog  —->        Badog

Went to  —->          Wento

Gas station  —->     Gastation

Some might   —->   Somight

Hot today  —->        Hotoday

Pronunciation Tip: There is an exception though. If the first word ends in the sounds /ʧ/ and /ʤ/, and the second word begins in the same consonant sound, we have to pronounce both sounds. Make sure to produce the second sound immediately after the first one.

For example:

Each chapter

Orange jacket

Linking Consonant to Vowel

When the first word ends in a consonant sound and the next word begins with a vowel sound, carry the consonant sound over to the following word.

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Let’s consider the sentence: Take it. 

The first word take ends in /k/, while the next word begins in /ɪ/.

Instead of saying /teɪk/ /ɪt/, we say /teɪkət/.

As you can see, the sound /ɪ/ in the word “it” is now reduced to a schwa sound.

Other examples are:

Work at   /wɝk/ /æt/  —-> /wɝkət/

Leave it   /liːv/ /ɪt/  —->    /liːvət/

Come around  /kʌm/ /əˈraʊnd/ —->   /kəməˈraʊnd/

Some of  /sʌm/ /ɑːv/ —->     /səməv/

Look alike  /lʊk/ /əˈlaɪk/     —->    /ləkəˈlaɪk/

Linking Vowel to Vowel

When the first word ends in one of these vowels [i], [aɪ], [eɪ], or [ɔɪ], and the second word begins with a vowel, insert a [j] (a “Y” sound) to link them.

Examples are:

The apple   —->       The /j/apple

Toy airplane   —->  Toy /j/airplane

My uncle     —->       My /j/uncle

Say it    —->               Say /j/it

Try again     —->       Try /j/again

He asked   —->           He /j/asked

In addition, when the first word ends in one of these vowels [u], [aʊ], [oʊ], or [ju], and the second word begins with a vowel, add a [w] (a “W” sound)  to link them.

Examples are:

Slow animal  —->       Slow /w/animal

Blue automobile  —->   Blue /w/automobile

How about    —->       How /w/about

Few others   —->        Few /w/others

So old  —->                  So /w/old

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Value of  —->               Value /w/of

Reduction in Spoken English

Reductions are reduced forms of English words. Although they ARE NOT REAL words in English, they are used extensively by native English speakers in music, movies, literature, etc.

want to  —-> wanna

going to  —-> gonna

ought to  —-> oughda

has to  —-> hasda

kind of  —-> kinda

let me  —-> let me

should have  —-> shoulda

would have  —-> woulda

In conclusion

Linking and Reduction of words in English can be a little unusual especially when you’re not used to it. However, learning them can be really essential if you want to sound like a native English speaker. Because of this linking, the words in a sentence do not always sound the same as when we say them individually. Linking is very important in English. If you recognize and use linking, two things will happen:

1. You will understand other people more easily.
2. Other people will understand you more easily.

Additionally, we only use reduction in spoken English and not in written English. Always remember that the reduced form of words isn’t considered real words in English since these words cannot be found in the dictionary.

Did you like what you have just read? If you do, share this with your friends and let them know these essential rules about linking and reduction in English as well.

If you want to learn more about the word stress, try exploring this article and learn what are the basic rules of word stress in English. 

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