Hey, what’s up, it’s Hadar. Thank you for joining me. And today we are going to talk about the pronunciation of four small but mighty words. Those words are very frequent in the language and each word has two possible pronunciations. And those words are: ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘for’ and ‘of’.
So, let’s begin by understanding the function of these words. And it’s funny that I say the function of these words because these are called function words. Now, the thing about function words, like these four words and there are like dozens more, these words are usually reduced. They kinda hide and squeeze themselves almost to a nonexistent position to allow the more important words, like the nouns and the verbs to stick out.
So, while nouns and verbs are longer and higher in pitch, function words – like ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘for’ and ‘of’ are reduced to a very neutral small simple sound; and that is the schwa sound, which is a neutral sound. And it sounds something like this – /ə/.
So, for each word for each of those four words, there is the proper pronunciation. So, how you pronounce it when you stress the word or when you say it alone, and how this word is actually pronounced in context – in a phrase or a sentence. So let’s begin with a proper pronunciation of the first word – the word ‘and’.
The word ‘and’ has the ‘a’ as in ‘cat’ then ‘n’ and ‘d’. But when the ‘a’ as in cat appears before an ‘n’ sound then it turns to something like ‘euhnd’, you hear this transitional sound as if you’re starting with an ‘e’ and then gradually opening it to an ‘ah’.
So for example if someone says something: ‘So, I met Michael last night’.
Right? So this word is stressed is pronounced alone, and this is how I pronounce it. Now, when this word appears in a sentence – and this is in most cases – it is reduced. So the ‘a’ as as in ‘cat’ is reduced to a neutral sound, to the schwa. And instead of /ænd/ we say /’n/.
Notice that I also drop the ‘d’ because the’n’ is a lot easier to connect to any other sound.
I don’t want to emphasize every single word and I do not want to pronounce them separately.
So it’s not going to be ‘bread and butter ‘, ‘bread and butter’ but I dropped the ‘d’. I reduced the /æ/ to /ə/. ‘Bread’n, bread’n, bread-n- butter.
So I’m reducing everything together. I even connected the ‘d’ to the ‘n’ immediately. Listen. /Brɛdən/, /brɛdənˈbʌtər/.
boy-z’n-girls, not ‘boys and girls’, boy-z’n, boy-z’n-girls.
Milk and sugar /mɪlkenˈʃʊgər/. /mɪlken/, /mɪlken/ Not ‘milk and sugar’, ‘milkn-shugr’.
The next word is ‘of’. /ɑːv/. When the word is stressed, the first vowel is the ‘ah’ as in ‘father’. So you want to drop your jaw and relax your lips, and then the ‘f’ is the ‘v’ sound always a ‘v’. /ɑːv/, /ɑːv/.
However, when it’s reduced it’s pronounced as /əv/. So the ‘a’ sound turns into shwa. /əv/
And the ‘v’ remains. So, let’s look at next example: ‘box of apples’ is going to be pronounced as ‘bɑk-sə væpəlz’.’bɑk-sə væpəlz’. I’m connecting everything. So the word ‘of’ has to connect either to the previous word or the second word, but it has to connect, right? And usually everything connects together: ‘bɑk-sə væpəlz’. It feels like it’s two words ‘bɑksə’,’væpəlz’, ‘bɑk-sə væpəlz’.
‘kʌpəv ˈkɑfi’, right? Not ‘cup av coffee’, and definitely not ‘cup of’ with an ‘f’ – ‘coffee’. /kʌpəv ˈkɑfi/. Now, another way you could pronounce it is /kʌpə ˈkɑfi/. What have I done here? ‘Cup of coffee’. I actually reduced the ‘a:v’ to ‘ə’. So not only I reduced the ‘a’ sound to a schwa, but I also dropped the ‘v’ completely. /kʌpə ˈkɑfi/.
And that’s the case when the word ‘of’ appears before a consonant: ‘cup of coffee’. ‘kʌpə ti’. ‘bottle of water /bɑtəlˈwadər/. out of here /ædə hi:r/. Right?
Now, it’s not a mistake to say the ‘av’. If it’s easier for you to say /æʊt ʌv hir/ , /kʌp ʌv ˈkɑfi/, /bɑtəl ʌv wadər/ – that’s awesome. That’s great, keep it up. As long as you’re reducing the ‘a’ and you’re connecting everything together. You don’t have to drop a ‘v’, but if you want to, you can. And the more you practice it the easier it gets. And ultimately, the less sounds you make the easier it is.
The word ‘for’ is pronounced with the ‘f’ and then the ‘ɔr’ as in ‘four’. So when the word is stressed you want to make sure that you hear the ‘ɔ’ sound. You drop your jaw, you round your lips, you keep the tongue down full and only at the end you bring it up for the ‘R’: /fɔr/
So it doesn’t sound like ‘fur’ when it’s stressed. /fɔr/.
So, for example, when you say something like ‘Who is it for’, the word ‘for’ is stressed and then I need to pronounce it just like that with a nice long ‘fɔr’ as in ‘four’. However, when the word ‘for’ is unstressed – and that’s usually the case – then the ‘/fɔr/ is reduced to
‘fər’, ‘fər’, ‘fər’. And yes, it sounds just like the word ‘fur’, like a dog’s fur.
So, it’s an ‘f’, a schwa sound, and an ‘R’. There is no ‘ɔ’ in the middle, okay? I don’t want to pronounce every word separately – ‘It’s for me’. But the word ‘for’ is reduced to ‘fur’, and I connect everything together: ‘It’s f’r me’. ‘I did it f’r you’. I did it f’r, f’r, f’r. ‘I did it f’r you’.
With the word ‘or’ it’s the same case. The proper pronunciation is /ɔr/: you have a nice long open ‘ɔ’ sound, and only at the end you bring the tongue up for the ‘R’.
So for example, if we’re going on a picnic and I ask my friend to bring a cake or wine, and she brings cake and wine, I’m like, ‘No, I said ‘cake OR wine’, not ‘cake AND wine’, right? ‘Why do you have to always bring everything?’
So, in that case, and that’s usually the case with my friends, just so you know that. So, here I want to stress the ‘or’, so I will pronounce it properly. ‘Cake OR wine’, not ‘cake and wine’. And then I reduced the end. But when the ‘or’ is reduced, it turns into ‘ər’.
/kafi ‘er’ ti:/. Reducing, connecting. ‘kaafeer tea’.
black or white – ‘blacker white’. It actually sounds like ‘blacker white’.
‘Thiser that’. Right?
So it sounds like the -ER suffix that connects to the first word. Okay?
And why is it so important? First, to save you energy. You don’t need to invest a lot of energy in pronouncing those words. You don’t need to add vowels that don’t exist because all those ‘ɔ’, ‘a’ and ‘æ’ – they don’t need to be there if the words are unstressed.
So, if you want to practice, just create a lot of expressions with those words: with ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘of’ and ‘for’. And use them in the reduced form, and say them over and over again. Try to see how people pronounce it around you. And that when you start integrating it into your day-to-day speech. And you start using it and you make it your own.
And remember: practice makes better. Better – because perfection is overrated.
Okay, that’s it. Thank you so much for watching. Consider subscribing to my channel if you like this video and share it with your friends so they also know how to reduce, right? Why keep it to yourself, share it, share the knowledge!
Let me know in the comments below what other words you have noticed that are being reduced in English, okay? Because there are more than these four words.
And that’s it. I guess I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.