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  • I guarantee you're not saying these words correctly.

  • In American English we have a set of common words.

  • And native speakers tend to pronounce them one way, and non-native speakers pronounce them another way.

  • Today I'm going to tell you what those words are and how Americans pronounce them.

  • I've been teaching English for 20 years.

  • Yes, I'm that old.

  • I see my students making mistakes like these almost every day.

  • We're going to start with an example, then we'll go over the rules, and a whole bunch more examples.

  • Ok, we're going to start with this word.

  • You might be thinking, wait, that's a really easy word. There's no way I'm mispronouncing that.

  • You know what, let's do a few more examples right here from the beginning.

  • This word, this word, and also this word.

  • Look at all of these words. They have something in common. The mistake students make is the same.

  • All of these words have more than one pronunciation.

  • Native speakers almost always do the short one.

  • And non-native speakers almost always do the long one. And that sounds less natural.

  • We have fam-ly, or family. In-tresing or in-ter-esting. Comf-table or com-for-table. Veg-table or veg-e-table.

  • By doing the shorter pronunciation yourself,

  • you will sound more natural speaking English and also, good news, the shorter pronunciation is easier.

  • So it's not fam-i-ly, but it's fam-ly. Just two syllables. Family, family. Do you say it as three syllables?

  • Fam-i-ly. Pronounce it with two. You'll sound more natural. Let's go hear 10 Americans saying this word.

  • Family. Two syllables. Fam-ly. Family. Family. Say that with me.

  • Family.

  • Now, forget the sentences. Let's just hear the word: family.

  • That's a lot of family.

  • You listen to it that many times, and you realize, wow this is what native speakers usually do.

  • Family. Two syllables. Simple. Family.

  • What about 'vegetable'? Do you say it 'veg-e-ta-ble'? I hear my students do that all the time.

  • I've almost never heard a native speaker do that.

  • Veg-table. Not ve-ge-ta-ble.

  • Just three syllables with first syllable stress.

  • Vegetable.

  • Alright, let's go over to Youglish to see and hear lots of examples.

  • Vegetable. Three syllables. VEG-ta-ble. Vegetable. Say that with me.

  • Vegetable.

  • Now, again, let's hear just the word, not the whole sentence.

  • You'll really feel that three-syllable rhythm.

  • Vegetable.

  • Three syllables, simple.

  • This word. I hear my students pronounce it 'in-ter-est-ing'. In-ter-est-ing. Four syllables.

  • Now, there are a couple of ways native speakers pronounce this word in American English,

  • but the most common by far is: IN-chru-sting.

  • Interesting. So in doing this, they drop the vowel between T and R, so we now have a TR cluster.

  • This is often pronounced CHR, so that's why you might hear a CH sound in this word.

  • Inchresting.”

  • Let's go to Youglish and listen to Americans pronouncing this word.

  • Inchrsetingorinteresting” –

  • you might also hear a True T instead of a CH, though CH is more common.

  • Interesting or interesting.

  • Now, occasionally, you'll hear a native speaker make this four syllables.

  • And in that case, there's a good chance you're not going to hear that T at all.

  • Inneresting”. It's common to drop a T after N, so that's what happens here.

  • I noticed Rick Steves doing this as I was listening to examples.

  • But what I want you to take away from this, is just go with the most common pronunciation.

  • Change your habit. Not 'in-ter-est-ing' but 'inchresting'.

  • Interesting.

  • Let's listen to just this word many times.

  • Say that with me, interesting.

  • Interesting.

  • Ok, comfortable.

  • I hear my students saycom-for-ta-ble”, four syllables. How to do native speakers say it?

  • COMF-der-ble. Three syllables. First syllable stress.

  • COMF-der-ble.

  • You might hear the T as a D, COMF-der-ble. Or you might hear it as a T. COMF-ter-ble.

  • Both are common, D is probably more common.

  • Every once in a while, you'll hear a native speaker pronounce this as four syllables, but not often.

  • Simplify it. Three syllables. Comfortable. Let's listen to just the word many times.

  • Say that with me, comfortable, comfortable.

  • Ok, so how are you supposed to know in which words you can drop a syllable?

  • Is it CHOC-o-late, or do most Americans say 'choc-late?'

  • Okay, so it's two syllables. Choc-late.

  • Well, is it FAV-o-rit of 'fav-rit'?

  • Okay, so it's two syllables.

  • FAV-rit.

  • There isn't an absolute rule, because there are so few absolute rules in American English pronunciation.

  • But there are some guidelines that can help you know when to drop a syllable.

  • When we drop a sound or a syllable like this, it's called 'syncope'. The example given here in this is 'probably'.

  • This word is often pronounced 'PROB-li', two syllables, prob-ly.

  • I do have a video specifically on that word, i'll link to it in the video description.

  • But, that doesn't actually follow the 'rule', as I said, it's not a perfect rule. It's more of a guideline.

  • And the guideline is:

  • an unstressed vowel might be dropped if the next sound is R, L, or a nasal consonant M, N, NG.

  • Let's look at the words we already studied.

  • FAMILYthat was an unstressed vowel followed by M. It does follow that guideline.

  • Vegetablehmm.

  • Here, the dropped vowel wasn't followed by R, L,

  • or a nasal consonant so that one doesn't follow the guidelines.

  • Interestingthat one does.

  • The unstressed vowel was followed by R.

  • Comfortablealso followed by R.

  • Favoritefollowed by R.

  • Chocolate, followed by L.

  • Does follow the guideline.

  • Now I'm going to go over a few more common words here that have two different pronunciations,

  • with one being shortened and that one more common.

  • We won't go look them up on Youglish, but I invite you to do that.

  • It's a great way to do research on how Americans actually pronounce different words and phrases.

  • Different.

  • Two syllables. Not diff-er-ent, but diff-rent.

  • Say that with me. Diff-rent.

  • Cam-er-a should be cam-ra.

  • Say that with me. Cam-ra.

  • Cath-o-lic. We say that: Cath-lic. Two syllables.

  • Say that with me. Cath-lic.

  • Int-er-est. Again, we say this as two syllables: in-trest.

  • This is just like shortening 'interesting'.

  • In-trest. Say that with me. IN-trest.

  • Listening is often 'lis-ning'. Lis-ning.

  • Say that with me. Lis-ning.

  • Notice the T is silent there.

  • That's not part of the syncope,

  • that's just the pronunciation, even in the full pronunciation of the word, that's silent.

  • Mem-o-ry is often 'mem-ry'.

  • Mem-ry.

  • Say that with me. Mem-ry.

  • Trav-el-ing is often 'trav-ling'.

  • Two syllables.

  • Say that with me. Trav-ling.

  • Natural is often 'NAT-rul'.

  • Just Two syllables.

  • Try that with me. NAT-rul.

  • Actually is often pronounced AK-shul-ly, three syllables instead of four.

  • AK-shul-ly.

  • Rest-au-rant is often 'rest-rant.' Two syllables.

  • And sometimes, you'll hear a CH because of that TR cluster: res-chront, res-chront.

  • Try that with me. Restaurant.

  • SEP-uh-rit is often SEP-rit. Two syllables.

  • Say that with me. Separate.

  • SEV-er-al is often SEV-ral.

  • Say that with me. Several.

  • TEMP-er-uh-ture is often TEM-pruh-chur. Temperature. Say that with me. Temperature.

  • Now here's a word that isn't a syncope, but it's a word that's often mispronounced by non-native speakers

  • because they put an extra syllable in it: business.

  • It looks like it should have an extra syllable, BIZ-ih-ness. But that's not the actual pronunciation.

  • That is a two-syllable word.

  • Business.

  • Business.

  • Both syllables have the IH vowel even though one is spelled with the letter U

  • and the other is spelled with the letter E.

  • BIZ-ness. Say that with me. Business.

  • This is true of 'every' as well. The actual pronunciation isn't three syllables.

  • That's not what you'll see in a dictionary.

  • But I do hear my students do that sometimes.

  • The pronunciation is two syllables: EV-ry. Every.

  • Try that with me. Every.

  • Ok, now the guidelines that I gave you.

  • Remember that some of the syncopes we studied didn't follow these guidelines.

  • Well, there are a lot words that have an unstressed vowel

  • followed by one of these3 consonants where we don't drop it.

  • That's why I didn't really want to call that a 'rule'.

  • For example, someone asked me about the word 'lottery'.

  • There's an unstressed vowel, the schwa, followed by the R.

  • But we wouldn't drop the syllable, turning it a two-syllable word: Lot-ry.

  • This is still a 3-syllable word: lottery, lottery.

  • So this is something you have to learn as you go.

  • As you learn new words, as you notice how Americans pronounce things.

  • If you're ever not sure, go to Youglish and hear 25 different people pronouncing the word.

  • They might not all be exactly the same, but you can see which pronunciation is the most common.

  • Can you think of a syncope that was not mentioned in this video?

  • Put it in the comments below.

  • Now I'm going to play video spin-the-wheel.

  • The next video I think you should watch is THIS one, which youtube is suggesting, I don't even know what it is,

  • it will be different for everyone, and I think that's fun.

  • Don't forget to click that subscribe button if you haven't already

  • and be completely sure to join me every Tuesday for a new video.

  • That's it and thanks so much for using Rachel's English.

I guarantee you're not saying these words correctly.