Linking English Words

Linking English Words

Muppet-Alphabet-FINAL-2As  part of a natural speech pattern, native English speakers link words.  And we do so in a unique manner. The way that we connect words can seem like madness to non-native speakers.  But, we have a saying in English: “There is a method to our madness!”  In other words, our methodology is not as crazy as it may seem.  So, here is a basic introduction to linking words when speaking English.

 

VOWELS: A, E, I, O, U
CONSONANTS: B, C, D, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q, R, S, T, V, W, X, Y, Z
(NOTE: Y is a consonant, but sometimes it sounds like the Long E vowel sound)


egg

We connect words when one ends in a consonant and is followed by a word that begins with a vowel. There is no break between these two words, when pronouncing them, in most circumstances. We combine the words as if they were one single word.

 

Written form: that egg
Correct Pronunciation: 
 thaaa-teeeg
(Ex: He said thaaa-teeeg looked strange.)
 Incorrect Pronunciation: tha.tuh.e.guh.
(Ex: He sai-duh tha-tuh e-guh look-duh stran-guh.)

see

We connect words when one ends in a vowel and is followed by a word that begins with a consonant. There is no break between these two words, in most circumstances. We combine the words as if they were one single word.

 

Written form: see the
Correct Pronunciation:  seee-thuuuh
(Example: Can you seee-thuuuh man?)
 Incorrect Pronunciation: see.thuh.
(Ex: Can.you.see.thuh.man?)

When a word ends in a consonant and is followed by a word that begins with another consonant, the ending consonant in the first word is cancelled out. The two consonants are melded together as if they were one. There is no break between the two words.

 

Written form: that the
Correct Pronunciation:  thaaa.thuuuh

(Example: He said that the music was too loud.)

 Incorrect Pronunciation: tha.tuh.the.
(Ex: He sai-duh tha-tuh thuh musi-cuh wa-zuh too lou-duh)

When a word ends in a vowel and is followed by a word that begins with another vowel, the two vowel sounds are connected with a "y" or a "w." This is absolutely essential to keeping a smooth and natural sound when speaking/reading English.

 

Written form: see an
Correct Pronunciation:  seee-(y)aaan

(Example: I can seee-(y)aaan eagle.)

 Incorrect Pronunciation: see.an.
(Ex: I.can.see.an.eagle.)

 

The same rule applies when there are two vowel sounds in two different syllables.

Written form: oasis
Syllable Distribution: o-a-sis
Correct Pronunciation:  o-(w)a-sis

(Example: There is an o-wa-sis in the desert.)

 Incorrect Pronunciation: o.a.sis
(Ex: There.is.an.o-a-sis.in.the.desert.)

person-speak

Inflections. When connecting two words, inflect (make your voice go up in pitch) on the second word. Your voice inflecting (or going up) is the necessary indicator for the listener that there are two words, and not one.

 

Remember you are connecting the two words and saying them, as if they were one. Inflecting helps the listener to hear two very distinct words.

 

Correct

that egg: thaaa-teeegg
see the: seee-thuuuh
that the: thaaa-thuuuh
see an: seee-aaan

Incorrect

that egg: tha-tegg
see the: see-thuh
that the: tha-thuh
see an: see-an


But, here is the really important thing that students need to remember before they even attempt to work on the above-listed rules:

The vowels determine the word!  

 

So, when students mispronounce English vowels, following linking rules does not improve their pronunciation. Linking while pronouncing the WRONG English vowels does not make the speaker easier to understand.  In fact, linking while mispronouncing the WRONG English vowels only results in a great deal of confusion.

 

Minimal syllables in English consist of a vowel, and possibly a consonant. It is very important that the vowels in each syllable be pronounced correctly.

 

A common mistake that students make is to use the vowel sounds of their own native language when speaking English. This can result in a great deal of confusion, because in English this can result in the speaker pronouncing a completely different word from what he intended to pronounce. For instance - maybe he says "sheep" instead of "ship," "pet" instead of "pat," or "left" instead of "laughed."

You must be logged in to post a comment