Common contractions and their pronunciation

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Importance of stressing the strong syllables

By now, you may recognize the importance of stressing the strong syllables in content words, but you may be wondering how the function words are left unstressed. The easiest way to do this is by “reducing” the effort in pronouncing function words. Luckily, you may already know how to do this by making contractions. Let’s take a look at common contractions and their pronunciations.

Contractions are clearly reduced sounds. However, contractions are not informal. They are used all the time. In fact, American speakers think more in the reverse: we put the full word back when we want to be clear or need to stress the full word. For instance:

She'll be coming into work tomorrow.

She WILL be coming into work.

He couldn't get his car started.

He could NOT start his car.

To sound fluent, you want to pronounce contractions and use them regularly. This table lists English contractions and how to pronounce them.

verb long form contraction pronunciation (num. of syllables) homophones common confusions rhymes with
same pronunciation different pronunciation
be I am I'm |ime| (1) - aim dime
you are you're |yor| (1) your/ yore jaw jaw/ more/ four
he is he's |heez| (1) - his/ fees/ heath fees/ bees
she is she's |sheez| (1) - seas/ sees seas/ he's
it is it's |its| (1) its eats/ ids bits/ fits
we are we're |wier| (1) weir were/ where pier/ beer
they are they're |thear| (1) their/ there dare pair/ fair
are not aren't |arnt| (1) aunt ant/ aunty shan't
is not isn't |izunt| (2) - - -
was not wasn't |wozunt| (2) - - -
were not weren't |wurnt| (1) - want/ won't burnt/ learnt
have I have I've |ive| (1) - ivy/ if dive/ five
you have you've |yoov| (1) - - move/ prove
he has he's |heez| (1) - his/ fees/ heath fees/ bees
she has she's |sheez| (1) - seas/ sees seas/ he's
it has it's |its| (1) its eats/ ids bits/ fits
we have we've |weev| (1) weave with peeve/ believe
they have they've |theiv| (1) - dave dave/ brave
I had I'd |ide| (1) eyed id cried/ died
you had you'd |yood| (1) - jude (name) food/ renewed
he had he'd |heed| (1) heed hid/ head/ feed feed/ need
she had she'd |sheed| (1) - shed/ seed seed/ he'd
it had it'd |itud| (2) - - -
we had we'd |weed| (1) weed wed he'd/ she'd
they had they'd |theid| (1) - - spade/ paid
will I will I'll |ail| (1) aisle/ isle ill while/ pile
you will you'll |yuul| (1) yule you all/ jewel tool
he will he'll |heel| (1) heel/ heal feel/ hell feel/ peel
she will she'll |sheel| (1) - shell he'll/ feel
it will it'll |itul| (2) - - -
we will we'll |weel| (1) wheel/ weal well he'll/ she'll
they will they'll |theil| (1) - dale dale/ male
will not won't |woant| (1) - want don't
I would I'd |ide| (1) eyed id cried/ died
you would you'd |yood| (1) - jude (name) food/ renewed
he would he'd |heed| (1) heed hid/ head/ feed feed/ need
she would she'd |sheed| (1) - shed/ seed seed/ he'd
it would it'd |itud| (2) - - -
we would we'd |weed| (1) weed wed he'd/ she'd
they would they'd |theid| (1) - - spade/ paid