Freebie Inside


Play Video

English Contractions: The Ultimate Pronunciation Guide

Download the FREE guide of the most common English contractions

with example sentences and audio
Get it

No matter where you look, contractions are everywhere in English – in spoken language as well as in writing: “I’m going to be late”, “don’t you hate that?”, “God, you’d better do it.”

English speakers LOVE to reduce certain words and connect them to other words. This way it’s easier to know which words are more important and you get more flow when you speak.

Now, the full forms of these words (I am going) are definitely found in spoken English but usually if that’s the case, there’s a reason for that.

So for example, if someone says “I will do it” they might be putting more emphasis on the word ‘will’ to convey their full intention to do it, or emphasizing the fact that this time it’s actually going to happen. But if they say “I’ll do it” they put more emphasis on the verb ‘do’.

Why do we avoid these contractions?

For non-native speakers these contractions may not be so intuitive, so they tend to use the long form.

The first reason has to do with the fact that contracted forms are more common in speaking than in writing and non-native speakers tend to rely on the written word. They might even think these contractions are inappropriate in speaking (although they totally are).

Some non-native speakers might feel that using these contractions would make them sound unclear. So they naturally avoid them, while it’s the other way around – you become more clear when you use them. It’s just a matter of finding out how to use them correctly and to figure out what in pronouncing them poses a challenge, and how to overcome it.

Have you ever avoided contractions? Do you feel like you’re mumbling when you say words like I’ll, it’d, or couldn’t? If you do, this video is a must for you because you’ll find several ways to go around these forms.

And if you scroll down, you’ll find a list of key contractions to download and practice for free. Because if you want to turn knowledge into a habit, you have to take action!

Download and practice NOW


Hey, it’s Hadar. Welcome to my channel. And today we’re going to talk about contractions. ‘We’re’ gonna to talk about contractions.

Contractions are often used in the language, especially spoken language. So it is very likely for you to hear people saying something like, “We’re super thrilled about that”, rather than “We are super thrilled about that”.

Or “Dan’s not serious”, instead of “Dan is not serious”. Or “they aren’t satisfied, instead of “they are not satisfied”. Both options are great, okay? I want you to remember that, if you tend to say “they are not tired” instead of “they aren’t tired”, that’s okay. You’re clear, you’re communicating, more power to you.

But what I’m sharing here today with you is a way to reduce those words. Because these parts are a little less important in English. I mean, you don’t really have to fully pronounce those words because they only get you to what you really want to say, which is the verb and the noun and the actual message.

And parts that are less important in English are totally reduced. “What do you want?” “What do you”: ‘whaddya’, ‘whaddya’, ‘whaddya’, ‘whaddya want’?

So, contractions are a form of reductions where we reduce a word, and then we also connect it to another word. It is very prevalent in spoken English, but you can also see it in writing. You see the apostrophe that connects two words together: “I’ll do it”, and you don’t say “I will do it”.

Now. What’s the most challenging part about contractions? Well, there are a few. One, is that we learn English through reading and writing, and we are usually used to seeing words written out separately. Right? “I am happy”. So, we’re used to seeing these three words separately.

And all of a sudden, to switch that into two words, that’s confusing. Right? It kinda like messes up our brain, “Wait, there are two words there. How is it possible that it has become one?” So that’s one of the reasons.

Another reason is that non-native speakers tend to separate it because they think they sound clearer – or more clear cause that’s more clear – when speaking, when they separated into two. Cause something like “I’ll”, “we’ll”, “she’d” sounds to them unclear, like they’re mumbling.

Because such things don’t happen in their native tongue. So this is something that they avoid because they feel, “Oh, it’s just wrong”, or “It’s a slang, it’s street language”, and then they avoid it. Instead of understanding that that’s how people actually communicate. And you become more clear when you reduce the less important parts.

It’s not like that you start mumbling. It’s just that it helps you focus on what really matters. “She’s really happy”. “She’s really happy”. “happy”, that’s a stressed word. “She is really happy” doesn’t have the same impact as “she’s really happy”.

“We’re grateful for that” instead of “we are grateful for that”. Right? Where are you kind of emphasize every single word and break it down. So, people think that they become unclear, but in fact it helps you sound more clear.

Now, there is one thing that I want you to take into consideration here. If, because of the patterns of your native tongue, when you reduce, you swallow words, and then you swallow consonants. So for example, instead of saying, “I’ll” you say “I”, because you’re not used to putting two continents together, then you first need to focus on pronouncing those constantly clusters – in words and phrases and then in contractions.

But avoid using contractions if it causes you to reduce words. First, make sure that you don’t reduce continents because that would definitely make you sound unclear and it’s not worth it. Right? It’s not worth investing time into learning those contractions if it doesn’t serve you well.

So, a way to do that is just to record yourself and to see if you actually pronounce all of those consonants, or you drop some of the consonants. Because when it comes to contractions, we usually reduce the vowels and keep the consonants. Not always, but for the most part, we’ll look into all of the examples really, really soon.

Sometimes non-native speakers tend to avoid contractions because they want to buy time before having to say the important words in the phrase or in the sentence. “I will… what’s the verb, what’s the verb …think about it”.

But here’s the thing. Whether you say “I will”, taking your time here, or “I’ll [pause] think about it”, it doesn’t really matter. It’s better if you get used to using those contractions cause that sounds natural, and that helps you put the focus on what really matters.

It really isn’t about sounding all American because you don’t have to sound American. You can sound like yourself. But by reducing parts that are a little less important, you really help yourself sound more clear. And that’s what matters, right?

So remember that taking a pause after a contraction, after you reduce two words together, is okay. Don’t worry about buying time or like, stretching out the sentence or pausing between each word, so you’ll be able to come up with the right word without getting stuck.

Getting stuck is no big deal. I mean, the more you speak, the better it is. The more fluent you are, the less you get stuck. You need to address it differently rather than, you know, elongating words that need to be contracted and reduced.

I hope that makes sense. Anyway, let’s dive deep into understanding how to use contractions. What we’re going to do is we’re going to look at the verbs, like all the ‘am’, ‘is’, ‘are’, ‘will’, ‘would’, et cetera, et cetera. And then we’ll see how we reduce them, and how we connect them to different pronouns or nouns. And how it sounds when it’s contracted.

So I’m going to try and give you a system to practice and to follow. Once you understand how to reduce the second word, it doesn’t matter what the first word is, you’ll be able to apply it onto pretty much everything. And that’s what we’re going to see together.

By the way, I’ve prepared for you a practice sheet with all of the contractions I’ve discussed in this video, along with an audio file where you can practice it with me.

So if you want to take it even further into practice even more, make sure you download the practice sheet on how to pronounce all of those contractions. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get started.

First, we’re going to talk about the only form that has ‘am’, and that’s ‘I am’. And the ‘am’ reduces to ‘m’. Basically, you reduce the vowel before. “I’m”, “I’m”, “I’m really happy about it”. “I’m”.

So, what I’m doing here is I’m pronouncing it as ‘aym’. ‘aym really happy about it’. I think that that’s the stressed form, “aym happy about it”, if you speak a little slower. But a lot of times I hear people, and I pronounced that myself as ‘am’. ‘am’, ‘am happy about it’.

If it’s really reduced, then I want to stress the word “happy”, am, am, am, am. That’s how it’s reduced. “I’m happy about it”. I think it’s even easier to think about it without that long diphthong in it. It’s not ‘aym’, it’s much easier to just treat it as ‘am’.

And even though you may think that there is an ‘ai’ there, if you just pronounce it as ‘am’, am’, then you’ll still be super clear. It’s easy to pronounce and you’ll deliver your message perfectly. “I’m happy about it”. I’m honest. I am!

Now, ‘is’ reduces to ‘zzz’. Notice it’s a Z sound, it’s not an S. Except for one exception, but the word “is” ends with a Z sound, even though it’s spelled with an S.

So is comes after “he”, “she”, and “it”. After “he”: “he’s” – ‘heez’, “he’s great”, “he’s working so hard”. “She is” – “she’s” – ‘sheez’. “She’s crazy about it”. “She’s”, “she’s”.

“It is” – “it’s”. What happened here? The Z sound became an S because the T is voiceless, so it affected the Z sound of the “is”. So the Z became an S. “It’s”, “it’s”, “it’s”, “it’s awful”. “It’s horrible news. It’s wonderful news”. Why be negative? “It’s wonderful news!”

So, pay attention. Don’t go like this. Even though I say that “it is” is always, “it’s”, you’ll hear a lot of times people saying “it-is”, “it is one of the best restaurants in town”. “It is one of the best restaurants in town”, especially if you emphasize something. So, “he’s”, “she’s”, “it’s”. That’s the reductions with “is”.

Now, let’s move on to “are’. “are” reduces to ‘ir’, ‘ir’. “you are”- ‘you’re’, ‘you’re’, ‘y’r’. So, “you” reduces this to ‘ya’, “are” reduces to ‘ur’, together – ‘y’r’, ‘y’r’.

“They are” – ‘they’re’, ‘they’re’, ‘their’. And yes, it sounds like “their” as in “their company” or “over there”. All three words are pronounced the same. “They are” – ‘they’re’, ‘they’re’. “They’re over there”. “They’re”.

“We are” – ‘we’re’, ‘we’re’, ‘weer/w’r’. So, basically it’s a high E of the “we”, and then you reduce it to an R: “we’re”, “we’re”. “We’re going to go there next year”. “We’re going to go there next year”. However, when people speak fast and if you want to reduce it even more – “w’r going to go there”. ‘w’r’, ‘w’r’, ‘w’r’,

And then it sounds just like the word “were”, as in “we were”. So “we are”, and the word “were” may sound the same. No wonder English is confusing, and it’s hard to understand.

This lesson is really good for comprehension as well. Listening comprehension. Again, “we are” – ‘w’r’, ‘w’r’, or ‘we’re’, depends on the emphasis in the sentence.

By the way, up until now, we only talked about pronouns, but the same reductions happen when we talk about nouns. For example, I can say “he’s a really good student”, “he’s a really good student”. Or “Dan’s a really good student”.

Instead of “he”, I put “Dan” and then I still added the Z. “Dan’s a really good student”. “Martha’s an awesome teacher”. “Martha’s an awesome teacher”, instead of “Martha is an awesome teacher”. “Martha’s”, “Martha’s”.

And yes, it does sound something like that belongs to Martha. #englishisconfusing. “Martha’s an awesome teacher” – “Martha’s students are really happy”. “Dan’s the student” – “Dan’s students are happy”. I hope that makes sense.

Let’s look at the verb “will”. Will becomes /’ll/. So, it’s a schwa and a dark L. Make sure you kinda like create some tension here in the back: /’ll/. “I will” – “I’ll”, “I’ll” – ‘ayl’. But same with “I’m”, a lot of times you’ll hear people just saying ‘al’, ‘al’, ‘al call you later’. ‘al’.

Back open ‘ah’ sound for the “father”, create some tension for the L: ‘al’, ‘al’, ‘al think about it’. ‘al call you later’. ‘al do it’. ‘al’.

“She will” – “she’ll”, “she’ll”, ‘sheel’. High E and then just the dark L – “she’ll”, “she’ll”. “She’ll pay you back”, “she’ll pay you back”. But even here, you may hear people reducing it to ‘sh’l’, ‘sh’l’. ‘sh’l pay you back’.

It really depends on how fast people speak or where they put the emphasis on. ‘she’ll’ – ‘sh’l’. But you’re less likely to hear “she will” – “she will pay you back”, unless I’m really like saying that explicitly: “she will pay you back, stop bugging her! She will!”

By the way, when these words, “will”, “have”, “is”, are used as the actual verb, not as an auxiliary verb – auxiliary verb is when we use these words in addition to another verb: “I will go”, so “go” is the verb and “will” is the auxiliary verb.

But when they function as a verb – “I will”, “Will you be there?” “I will” – then we can’t use contractions here. “Will you be there?” “I’ll” – not possible, okay? So you can only use contractions with auxiliary verbs. You can’t use them, especially when you respond to something with those contractions. Make sure that that’s when they’re separated. Okay. High five. Let’s move on.

So we had “will”, “I’ll”, “she’ll”, “we’ll”. “They’ll” – ‘thell’, ‘thell’, I can also reduce it to ‘thell’. Or “they’ll”, put the full diphthong in, choose whatever works for you. “We’ll” – ‘W’l’, also, reduced.

But the most important thing here is that you need to remember that the “will” becomes /’ll/, and then we add it to the pronoun, and then the pronoun can also reduce a bit. Okay.

If it’s a full noun, “Amy will” – “Amy’ll do it for you”, “Amy’ll do it for you”. Then we can’t reduce the noun itself, only the auxiliary verb. Okay. Only the second word that is reduced.

“Would”. Just turn it into a ‘d’, baby. ‘d’. “I would” – “I’d”, “I’d”. “She would” – “she’d”, “he would”- “he’d”, “we would” – “we’d”. “We’d do it, for sure”. “We’d”, “We’d”. Or ‘w’d’, ‘w’d’, sometimes. “W’d go there every single week”. Totally reduced it.

“They would” – “they’d”, “they’d”, or ‘thied’, ‘thied’, ‘thied’ – ”thied be there’, ‘thied be there’. Instead of, “they would be there”.

Now, the secret to practicing it is to understand it, first of all. To understand the resistance and the rejection, why you wouldn’t want to use it. “Wait, I feel like I’m unclear, but Hadar says you’re clear, so maybe I should do it, still”.

Just make sure that you record yourself, and that you don’t drop any consonants. So you’ve recognized the resistance, and you kind of like resolve it. And then you need to practice it. The way to practice it is through repetition.

So take one of those contractions and then say it over and over and over and over again separately. Then within context, so start inventing a bunch of sentences. These are usually simple sentences, so this shouldn’t be too challenging for you. And then just use it in context over and over again.

Then you can be innovative and creative and look it up “YouGlish”, or just google phrases with “she’d”, right? And then you have thousands and thousands of examples.

Or you can download the practice sheet that I’ve prepared for you with examples. But you need more than that, and these are great ways and methods to do that on your own because you can do so much on your own.

Okay, so we talked about what, what about “have”, “have”. “I have” – “I’ve”, so “have” turns into ‘v’ – “I’ve”, “I’ve” [ayv/av]. “We have” – “we’ve”, or ‘w’v’ – ‘w’v been thinking about it for years’. ‘w’v’, ‘w’v’ – ‘we’ve’, ‘we’ve’.

“They have”- “they’ve”, “they’ve”. “They’ve visited New York”. “You’ve been so kind to me”. “You’ve”, “you’ve”, or ‘y’v’, ‘y’v’. ‘y’v’ been so kind to me’, right? Notice how I emphasize the “so kind”, and then the “you have” became nothing – ‘y’v’, ‘y’v’. ‘y’v been so kind to me’.

Thank you for being here watching my videos. I’m grateful – ‘am’. By the way, when we discussed the word “have”, “have” could also reduce to just a schwa. So actually, without the V, just a schwa. ‘I’v been there’, ‘I’ve been there so many times’.

‘I’v been there’. ‘I’v’, ‘uh’, ‘uh’ – that was the word “have”. I just swallowed it completely. No wonder English is confusing. Hashtag. I mean, it’s a word that you don’t even hear. It’s just an ‘uh’ sound, and you are supposed to assume that it’s the word “have”? Well, yes. Okay. I hope this helps.

“Has” becomes ‘zzz’, and yes, it does sound like “is”. “She has” – “she’s”, “he has” – “he’s”. “is” and “has”, when it’s contracted, sound the same. Okay. So this is why you have to see it in context, always. I know it’s frustrating. “It is”, “it’s”.

Let’s talk about “was” and “were”. When it comes to “was” the W needs to stay, thank God. So, all I do is reduce the vowel in the middle to a schwa” w’z, ‘w’z. ‘she w’z’, ‘he w’z’, ‘it w’z’.

When it comes to “were”, the W stays – ‘w’r’, ‘w’r’, ‘w’r’. Yes, it does sound like “we are”, we discussed it. Very good, you remember it. So, here ‘were’ remains ‘were’. By the way, to pronounce it, start with the W, make sure that there is no vowel in-between, and you pull the tongue in for the R.

‘w’r’, ‘w’r’. Not ‘wear’. Very important to remember cause “wear” is “to wear clothes”, or “where are you”, but here we are talking about ‘w’r’. ‘w’r’, okay. “We were”, “we were”, you just need to say it really fast.

I mean, I don’t know how a person can reduce it even more. “they were”, “they were”, “they were”, just swallow it and say it really queitly. “You were”, ” you were there?”. ‘You were, were, were’. “You were there?”.

So, there is nothing really interesting about this. Except for the fact that you need to say it fast and softly.

Let’s talk about the really interesting part. What happens when we add to those auxiliary verbs the word “not”. For example, let’s take the sentence “she is not ready”. I could say “she’s not ready” or “she isn’t ready”.

Both are okay, but when I choose the first option, “she’s not ready”, then it feels like I’m emphasizing the word “not” a bit more. When I say “she isn’t ready”, I think the emphasis is more on the “ready”.

“Isn’t”. So let’s talk about “isn’t”. “Not” basically becomes /’n/. It’s an N sound, and then you stop it abruptly. I want to say with a T, but it’s not really a T. You just stop it abruptly and that suggests that there is a T there.

It’s totally fine if you pop your T here – /’nt/. if it’s easier for you, just do it. It doesn’t really matter, you don’t have to hold the T here. And there are a lot of native speakers who actually pronounce it like that, “isn’t”. Totally fine.

But if you want to challenge yourself, try using a held T after an N, which is basically ‘nnn’. You’re releasing air through the nose, the tip of the tongue is touching the upper palate: ‘nnn’. And then you’re blocking it abruptly, you’re no longer releasing air. And that is the T. I know.

‘nnn’ – ‘isn’, or ‘isn’t’. “are not” – ‘aren’, I held it here, or ‘aren’t’. Both are fine. Don’t psych yourself out trying to pronounce that nasal T. Do not, please, do not. I’m going to show both examples for those that that’s easy for them.

But truly, choose one that works for you, and that’s more than enough, if you are changing from “are not” to “aren’t”, with a pop T, okay. “Isn’”, “aren’”, “weren’” – “were not”, “weren’”, “wasn’”. “weren’t” or “wasn’t” – with a release T, that’s okay too.

“Have not” – “haven’t”, “has not” – “hasn’t”. Right. So, it’s the same pattern. Once you recognize how to pronounce the “not” – /n’/ or /n’t/, then it doesn’t matter what comes first. Okay. As long as you reduce it. But the secret is to practice it repetitively, over and over again cause practice makes better.

Okay. Then we have “will not”. That’s a different story. Because we don’t say ‘willn’t’. I know you know that. We say “won’t”, “won’t”. A lot of times people avoid saying “won’t”, raise your hand if that’s you, because it sounds to them like “want” – WANT. “Want”, “I want something”. “I won’t do it”.

The secret is to put the W in. In the word “won’t” we have the long O is in “go”. In the O as in “go” there is a W at the end – ‘ow’, right. If you don’t add in that W: ‘wown’t’, with or without the T, it’s going to sound like “want”. And “want” already sounds like, you know, I desire, I want that.

“Won’t”. So that’s the exception. Practice it separately, and this one is important. So I do encourage you to practice it. And I have a video about “want versus won’t” that you can check out. I’m going to put it in the show notes.

Then we have “did not” – “didn’t”, “didn’t”. “didn’t” – we have ‘di’ and then ‘dn’t’, it’s a D and then you release the air through the nose. That’s technically the N. And then you stop it abruptly – that’s the T at the end. ‘didn’. But it’s totally fine to say, “didn’t” or even “didn’t”. You’ll be clear. Okay. So, totally cool. Here are a few more.

“Must not” – “musn’t”, I dropped the T of the “must” – “musn’t”. And “can not” – “can’t”, or “cannot”. So “cannot” is easy. People usually don’t struggle with this one. People do struggle with “can’t” because the T is barely noticeable. And then it sounds like you’re saying “can”.

So if you are confronted with such situation, just say, “cannot”. Okay. “I cannot take this in longer”. But, if you want to practice it, I have a video about it, remember that “can’t” always has the full vowel – the ‘a’ as in cat. “can”. Even though the T is barely noticeable. Because the word “can”, the positive form, is usually reduced to ‘c’n’. ‘I c’n do it’, ‘c’n’.

And “can’t” is never reduced. So you can either say “cannot” or pop the T – “can’t”, if you feel that you are unclear when you’re saying “can’t”. But trust the fact that if you pronounce the ‘a’ sound fully, you’ll be understood. And if not, you’ll just say it again.

Okay, that’s it. I think I went through many contractions for you to practice, so that’s enough for today. Remember, first repetition makes all the difference. So repeat the contractions and then use it in context cause you got to use it yourself in context. Don’t just repeat other people’s sentences. That’s the first thing.

Second thing, identify your priorities. If this is a big struggle, think if it’s really important for you right now to focus on it, even though I would love for you to watch my video over and over and over again. If you have more important things to deal with in terms of pronunciation, like your R is completely unclear.

Or you’re still reducing consonants when you’re speaking whenever there is a consonant cluster, that’s more important. You’ve got to put your focus there. This is like, these are luxury problems, not using contractions.

But if that’s the case for you, use whatever I taught you here to improve your listening skills, your listening comprehension. Because when you understand those contractions, it’s so much easier to understand phrases and sentences, and how people speak. Because it can get confusing. English is confusing.

But English is also awesome, and we love English. This is why we’re here. And the fact that something is challenging is only a better reason for us to actually go through it and master it. Am I right or …what?

Okay. Let me know in the comments below, which one of all of the contractions that I’ve discussed is the most challenging one for you. And if you have any other questions for me, please, please, please let me know in the comments below.

Okay, that’s it. Thank you so much for watching. Please share this video with your friends if you liked it. And don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you’ll get notified whenever I share a new video with you.

Have a beautiful week, have a beautiful day, and I’ll – contraction – see you in the next video. Bye.

The InFluency Podcast
The InFluency Podcast
14. Contractions in English: Your Essential Pronunciation Guide

After watching the video, let me know in the comments below which contractions in English are the most difficult for you to pronounce!

Liked this video?

Get a weekly bite size pronunciation lesson straight to your inbox
Don’t like it? No problem. You can unsubscribe in one click.

10 Responses

  1. Dear Hadar ! The video is of course, superb since it’s a video by Hadar. It’s vibrant, interesting, riveting. I would be interested whether are contractions the remnants of the old language usage or have they appeared just in modern times ? Using contractions one really may save some time but I think this might not be a relevant cause of their existence. I like American English much better than the authentic British one and love American people. Nevertheless, I don’t want to be an American. (I feel I’m very different of them in general and I would like to stay just as I’m myself.) I feel using all the contractions I should adopt a second English language. So, if it might incidentally come to my mind the contraction I will use It. However I won’t compulsively strive to use them. Thank you so much for the exhilarating video again. Laszlo

    No, because I can’t even watch it. I tried it with this browsers: OPERA, Firefox, Google Chrome. Neither one plays this video. I’m at an iMac with OS X El Captain.
    Best regards
    Herbert Huber

    1. Hi Herbert,

      This is Karen from Team Shemesh. So sorry about that!

      Let’s try a few things that might be preventing you from accessing the website properly.

      Make sure to use a laptop/computer and Google Chrome
      Open the link in the incognito mode
      Open the link from the other device
      Restart your computer
      Restart your router or connect internet from the alternative connection

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.