Friday, November 14, 2008

Contractions: Use Them!

As far as sounds are concerned we have covered /th/, /v/ and /r/. These sounds are what I consider Universal. Meaning that almost all ESL learners will find them challenging. If fact I have created a 1 hour long video just to cover these sounds. If you are interested then contacted my at We don't sell it on our  Accent Master website yet, it is being released through a company called Video Professor in the future. The exact date of the release we don't know yet.

Today I would like to discuss contractions. The common contracts such as it's, we've, don't, couldn't. Often ELL will not use contractions. This can be for a number of reasons. It could be that they are anxious about keeping their verbal sentences grammatically correct or the combination of consonants is tricky or just habit.

Even when reading aloud when a contraction comes up, often it is substituted with the full words. For example what is written is don't, but what is said is do not. You may be thinking that it is no big deal as long as the meaning of the sentence remains unchanged.

And this is correct. The basic communication has been met. However what you may miss is that it can sound less fluent, more staccato in your speech. Read the following 2 sentences:

He doesn't know.
He does not know.

The second is too formal for American English.

The other reason to incorporate contractions is that it saves time. It is what is known as a standard reduction. There are in spoken English standard ways to reduce your speech and using contractions is one of many ways we do just that. When you use contractions then it leaves you more time to pick up articles such as "a" and "the".

Dropping those articles is called a non-standard reduction, while using contractions is a standard reduction.

So today. Choose 1 contraction and use it all day. Similar to a vocabulary building technique. Put a post-it on your computer with the word and find occasion to use it. Stick with one for a week and then move onto a new contraction.

Best of luck and let me know how it goes!

Lynn Founder of
Accent Master

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