Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • If you want to speak natural, clear English,

  • the 100 most common words in American English is a good place to start.

  • This video is part of a series where we're studying the real pronunciation of these words.

  • This is likely different from what you learned in English class.

  • You see, in American English, we have all sorts of words that are unstressed or even reduced.

  • That means we change the pronunciation.

  • This set of the 100 most common words in American English contains many, many words that reduce.

  • If you haven't already seen video 1, and other videos in this series,

  • I do suggest you start there.

  • These videos build one on top of the next, so click here to watch video one.

  • This is video seven, we're studying words 61-70.

  • 00:00:55,040 --> 00:00:57,860 Number 61 is the word 'people'.

  • This is the first time we're starting one of these videos

  • with a word that is NOT an example of a word that will be unstressed.

  • This word is a noun, a content word, and generally, it will be stressed.

  • Now, this is a tricky word.

  • And I don't have too many videos where I go over the specific pronunciation of a single word,

  • but I do happen to have one where I talk about this word,

  • so I'll put in a clip here that will go through the pronunciation, step-by-step.

  • It's a two-syllable word with stress on the first syllable.

  • Da-da. People.

  • It begins with the P consonant sound, lips are together for that, pp-.

  • Then we open into the EE as in SHE vowel, pe-, pe-.

  • So the tongue tip is down here, but the front part of the tongue is stretching up towards the roof of the mouth

  • , pe-, pe-.

  • Now we have the P, schwa, L sound.

  • This is unstressed, so it's going to be low in pitch and very fast,

  • -ple, -ple, -ple.

  • People.

  • So the lips will come together again for the P.

  • People. -ple.

  • Then we go into the schwa/Dark L sound.

  • Don't worry about making a separate schwa sound, just go straight into the Dark sound of the Dark L.

  • So, to make that sound, your tongue will pull back,

  • so the back part of the tongue here is shifting towards the throat a bit,

  • people, ull, ull.

  • And that's how we get that dark sound.

  • Now, it should be very short because it's unstressed, people, people.

  • The second half of the Dark L involves bringing the tongue tip to the roof of the mouth.

  • People.

  • But you can actually leave that out.

  • A lot of people will just make, people, ull, the Dark sound to signify the Dark L

  • and not necessarily bring the tongue tip up.

  • People, people.

  • Let's do a couple of example sentences with people.

  • I'm a people person.

  • People, people.

  • Up-down shape of stress, longer, more clear than the unstressed words:

  • I'm a-- I'm a-- I'm a people person.

  • What does 'people person' mean?

  • It means that I'm very social.

  • I like interacting with a lot of people, I'm very outgoing, I'm an extrovert.

  • I have room for three more people in my car.

  • People, people.

  • Stressed.

  • Number 62.

  • Is it as clear as 'people'?

  • No.

  • It's the word 'into'.

  • 'Into' is a preposition.

  • And prepositions are function words, which means they'll generally be unstressed i n a sentence.

  • Let me show you what I mean.

  • I ran into my teacher at the movies.

  • I ran into my teacher at the movies.

  • Ran, teach-, mov-.

  • These are the stressed syllables.

  • All the others, including the word 'into', unstressed.

  • Less clear, low in pitch, flatter, given less time.

  • Into.

  • If it was clear and fully pronounced, it would have that up-down shape of stress, into, and a True T.

  • The final vowel would be the OO as in BOO vowel.

  • Into.

  • But that's not how I pronounced it.

  • I ran into my teacher.

  • Into. Into. Into.

  • A couple things are different.

  • First of all, it's not stressed so it's flat in pitch, low in pitch.

  • Second, two sounds have changed.

  • The T sounds more like a D, and the final vowel is the schwa.

  • Into. into. Into. into.

  • So instead of 'into', it's: into, into.

  • This T is not following the rules of T pronunciations.

  • The rules are, after an N, we can drop a T completely, but if not, it's a True T.

  • But many Americans will say 'into' more of a D or Flap T sound connected to the N.

  • If you only learned the stressed pronunciation of this and every word in American English,

  • your English wouldn't sound too natural, because we use so many reductions so frequently.

  • Number 63: the word 'year'.

  • A noun, a content word.

  • This is a word that will generally be stressed in a sentence.

  • No reduction here.

  • Year. Year.

  • Up-down shape of stress.

  • Longer, clearer than the unstressed words in a sentence will be.

  • A lot of people have problems with the pronunciation of this word because of the Y sound.

  • Year.

  • How is it different from 'ear'?

  • I actually have a video on that.

  • Let me put in a little clip here.

  • 'Year' and 'ear' are exactly the same except for the Y sound.

  • The main vowel is the IH as in SIT vowel,

  • but I do feel like we squeeze it a little bit, so it sounds a little more like EE.

  • IH, ear.

  • EE, ear.

  • Ear.

  • Let's take a look.

  • First, the word 'ear'.

  • For the IH or EE vowel, the jaw drops just a bit, and the corners of the lips pull out wide, just a little.

  • The tongue tip is down here, touching the back of the bottom front teeth.

  • The front part arches towards the roof of the mouth without touching it.

  • Next is the schwa-R sound.

  • Look for the tongue pulling back as the lips flare.

  • The tongue pulls back and up, with the tip pointing down so it's not touching anything.

  • Now, let's take a look at 'year'.

  • The jaw dropped a little bit more here.

  • Why?

  • To accommodate the movement of the tongue.

  • While the tip is down in the same position for the next vowel,

  • the middle part of the tongue actually touches the roof of the mouth and pushes forward a bit.

  • yy, yy.

  • At the same time, the throat closes off down here,

  • yy--, yy--, yy--, to add a different dimension to the sound.

  • Ee, yy, ee, yy.

  • Let's watch the Y several times to see that motion

  • of the tongue pulling down from the roof of the mouth: yy, yy.

  • Now, the lips flare and the tongue pulls back for the R.

  • Now let's compare the beginning position of these two words.

  • 'Ear' is on the left and 'year' is on the right.

  • Notice that the jaw has dropped more for the forward motion of the tongue on the roof of the mouth for 'year'.

  • Also, the corners of the lips are more relaxed

  • than for the initial vowel in 'ear', where they pull slightly out.

  • You can see this from the front as well.

  • The jaw has dropped more for the tongue movement.

  • So, we have the tongue movement, which is different for the Y, as well as the Y sound in the throat, yy.

  • This is how we want to start the word 'year': yy, yy, year.

  • Now I'll say the minimal pair several times.

  • Can you hear the difference?

  • Year. Ear.

  • Year. Ear.

  • Year. Ear.

  • Year.

  • Let's do a sentence or two.

  • We're going to Italy this year.

  • Year. Year.

  • It's the last word in the thought group,

  • and naturally in American English, our energy and our pitch goes down in a sentence,

  • so the ending word is often less clear, even if it's stressed,

  • even if it's a content word like 'year'.

  • But it still has the length of a stressed syllable.

  • We're going to Italy this year.

  • Year, year.

  • A little bit of that up-down shape of stress.

  • What year were you born?

  • Year, year.

  • There the word 'year' is closer to the beginning of the sentence, so it's a little clearer.

  • Year.

  • Number 64: Another great reduction.

  • The word 'your'.

  • This is related to the word 'or', which was number 31.

  • Fully pronounced, 'your' and 'or' rhyme with 'more' or 'wore'.

  • But they're almost never fully pronounced.

  • They're almost always reduced in a sentence, 'yer', 'er'.

  • So the vowel changes to the schwa.

  • Stressed: Your.

  • Fully pronounced, longer, up-down shape of stress.

  • But in a sentence: yer, yer.

  • Unstressed, low in pitch, said quickly.

  • Yer.

  • Sample sentence: What's your name?

  • Yer, yer, yer.

  • Yer name.

  • Can I borrow your car?

  • Yer, yer, yer.

  • Borrow your car?

  • In this question: Can I borrow your car?

  • Can I bor-- car-- Those are the two stressed syllables.

  • 'Can' and 'your' reduced: can--, your--, and 'I' is unstressed.

  • Can I borrow your car?

  • What would it sound like if they were all stressed?

  • If they were all said very clearly, fully pronounced?

  • Can I borrow your car?

  • Can I borrow your car?

  • Can I borrow your car?

  • Can I borrow your car?

  • Completely unnatural.

  • Can I borrow your car?

  • It's so important to learn about reductions,

  • and learn about the unstressed pronunciation of words,

  • so that you can sound more natural, more relaxed, and be more easily understood.

  • You're in the right place for this.

  • Okay, let's keep going.

  • Number 65: Good.

  • This is our first word in the 100 most common words in English list that's primarily an adjective.

  • An adjective is a content word.

  • Content words are nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.

  • And content words are what are generally will be stressed in a sentence.

  • Good. Good.

  • Up-down shape.

  • Good.

  • Longer, clearer.

  • The O here represents the UH sound, like in push, or book.

  • Good. Uh.

  • The D is a stop consonant, and stop consonants have two parts, a stop of air, and a release.

  • Good. Good. Stop and release.

  • But with stop consonants, it's common to skip the release.

  • Then, the D becomes a lot more subtle.

  • I want to show you what I mean.

  • Good. ddd--

  • My tongue is lifted into position for the D, and my vocal cords make a sound.

  • Dddd. Good. Good. Good.

  • Do you hear it at the end?

  • It's clearer on its own.

  • Dddd--

  • But of course, we never use it that way.

  • It's always part of a word or sentence.

  • And that can mean it's harder here: good, good, ddd--, good.

  • Pronouncing your D this way will help your English sound natural.

  • If you're linking the D into a word that begins with a vowel or diphthong,

  • then it will sound like a flap.

  • Let's look at an example.

  • I feel good about the project.

  • Good about, good about.

  • Goo-- ddd-- Good about.

  • There, the next word begins with a vowel sound, so I flap the tongue and connect the two words.

  • Good about.

  • It's a good restaurant.

  • Goodddrestaurant.

  • There, I make a very quick D sound in the vocal cords, before going into the R.

  • Good restaurant.

  • 66, the word 'some'.

  • This word generally reduces and can be said very quickly in sentences.

  • It depends on how the word is being used.

  • For example, if it's being used to show that something was great, or unique, like,

  • That was some party!”, then it's fully pronounced.

  • Also, if it can be switched out for the word 'certain', then it's stressed:

  • Some days I work from home, and some days I go to the office.

  • Fully pronounced: some, some.

  • Up-down shape, length, UH as in butter vowel.

  • But usually, it's not stressed, it's actually reduced.

  • Then it's more like: some, some, some.

  • Flat, low in pitch, said very quickly, and the vowel reduces to the schwa.

  • Some. Some. Some.

  • We pronounce it this way when we use 'some' to mean an unknown amount, or unit, or thing.

  • Some water.

  • May I have some water?

  • Some, some.

  • We need some more volunteers.

  • Some, some. Some more.

  • Some.

  • Said very quickly, low in pitch, flat: some.

  • Stressed: some.

  • Unstressed: sum.

  • Number 67, the wordcould”.

  • Actually, we've already gone over this word.