How to Connect Words and Sounds in English

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Does speaking clearly mean separating words, or connecting them?

Many of my students are afraid to connect words together,
concerned that it would make them sound unclear,
or that they’d have to invest too much energy doing it.

In today’s video, I’ll talk about why it’s important to connect words,
When you should connect words and when you shouldn’t
And I’ll also give you six simple tricks that will help you connect words effortlessly and understand the ‘system’ behind it.

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Hey, it’s Hadar and this is the Accent’s Way. And today we’re gonna talk about connected speech

or in other words, how to speak without stopping your voice even once.

No, I’m kidding you’re not supposed to not stop or not breathe when you speak.

On the contrary, phrasing is very important and taking pauses and small breaks are crucial for clarity.

And to help you sound awesome.

But when you look at sentences

I want you to think about it as if it’s comprised of small units rather than separate words.

Because if we try to say every word separately, it sounds a little choppy

and we don’t want that.

What we do want is to look at a sentence as if it’s comprised of chunks, small units.

And every unit is connected and sounds as if it’s one separate word.

And each unit is a little separate from the other.

So a sentence is not just separate words, but small units, that are connected within themselves.

‘But are separated…’

‘…from one another’

‘But are separated…’ Here I connected everything. ‘…from one another’ I connected everything.

But these two chunks are not connected.

Now, the idea of connected speech is not stopping your voice or breath

at all, in the unit that you’d like to connect. So look at what I said.

‘The idea of connected speech…’ that was one unit.

‘The idea of connected speech…’

I did not separate the words.

The

idea

of

connected

speech…

My voice kept going and so did my breath.

‘The idea of connected speech…’

Then I took a pause. I stopped my breath, stopped my voice.

‘…is not stopping your voice or breath’

‘…is not stopping your voice or breath’

So I did not pause at all between those words, therefore, I connected one word to another.

Whether it was one consonant that connected to another

or a vowel that connected to a consonant. But to be honest it sounded like one long word.

‘one long word’

Rather than separate words.

Rather

than

separate

words.

Right? That’s when I’m separating the words.

But when I’m speaking I’m connecting the words together, not stopping my breath.

When I do, it helps me distinguish one unit from another.

And of course, it’s important to help me deliver the message.

But I don’t want to do it between words, I want to do it between units within the sentence.

Now today, we’re not going to talk about how to divide the sentence into units.

We are going to talk about the technical connection between words in the unit.

Okay? And to understand how to do that, we need to understand what is more challenging for us

and what is less challenging for us.

Because some combinations are going to be super easy because we do it in our native tongue all the time.

So that’s great!

You don’t need to practice it, don’t waste your time.

But there are some transitions or combinations that are going to be a little more challenging for you.

Because these are transitions or combinations that you don’t have in your native tongue.

And that’s exactly what you need to practice.

So every word either begins or ends with a vowel or consonant.

A vowel is a sound that flows out freely like

ei, a, ee, ow, uw

And a consonant is a sound that stops like

k, ch, r, th

Or partially stopped like ‘y’ or ‘w’.

These are consonants. So when we look at combinations, we have four different options.

The first one is the easiest one and that is when a word ends with a vowel

and the next word begins with a consonant, for example

‘play fair’

‘play’ that’s the vowel, and then I bring the bottom lip to the top teeth for the ‘f’ sound.

‘play fair’

Now, of course, it may be more challenging if this consonant does not exist in your native tongue

but that’s a different topic. Right now we’re just talking about the combination of vowels and consonants.

So when a word ends with a vowel

‘see them’

And the next word begins with a consonant, it’s easier to pronounce it, easy for almost all speakers.

The next option is when you have a word that ends with a consonant and the next word begins with a consonant.

Now this can get a little tricky for some speakers, mostly because some languages don’t have

a sequence of a few consonants right after another.

So people feel like they need to add vowels in between or pause and start the next word separately.

Because it’s hard to connect those two words together.

So here’s the thing, when a word ends with a consonant and the next word begins with the same consonant

don’t release the first consonant, for example

‘cheap prices’

I just stop my breath

‘chea – prices’

and connected it to the next ‘p’.

‘chea – prices’

‘bi – gate’

‘rea – lesson’

‘ga – sstation’

‘ga – sstation’

Right? So I’m connecting both consonants and it sounds either just one long consonant

or even one consonant, and that’s okay.

Don’t try to be clear. Don’t try to say the words separately, so it doesn’t sound like it’s one sound or one word.

That’s okay. That’s the idea. Now, what happens when it’s not the same consonant, for example

‘bar crawl’

‘bar’ I bring the tongue up for the ‘r’ and then I need to move directly to a ‘k’ sound.

Treat it as if it’s one word.

‘barkrawl’

Not ‘bar crawl’. Not ‘bar a crawl’.

Don’t add vowels. Don’t stop your breath.

‘barkrawl’

We went for a ‘barkrawl’.

‘mixed nuts’

‘mikstnuts’

A lot of consonants one after another so practice it slowly.

‘mikstnuts’

And from the ‘t’ sound of the ‘mixed’, because it’s a ‘t’, it’s not a ‘d’

and if you don’t know how to distinguish those, watch my video about the ‘-ed’ suffix.

‘mixed’ and then from here, from the ‘t’ sound, move to the end sound of the ‘nuts’

‘mikstnuts’

Don’t take a pause. Don’t take a break.

‘mikstnuts’

‘harsh reality’

‘har – shree – a – l’dee’

So from the ‘sh’ sound, I bring the tongue up for the ‘r’. And if it’s difficult then hold out the previous consonant

and then prepare for the next consonant, try to connect it without adding vowels or taking any pauses.

‘har – shree – a – l’dee’

‘wine glass’

‘wine…’

I lift the tongue up for the ‘n’ and then shift immediately to the ‘g’.

‘wai-nglass’

So even though these are two separate words, I treat them as if it’s one word

because to me it’s the same phrase or it’s within the same unit.

Can I get a wine glass, please?

A wine glass.

‘ca – nai – ge -da – wai -nglass’, everything’s connected here.

Then we have a word that ends with a consonant and the next word ends with a vowel.

This is really cool because if you master it, it will really help you to connect words together

and sound super natural.

So when a word ends with a consonant and the next word begins with a vowel, the consonant

of the first word becomes the beginning of the next word that begins with a vowel.

For example, if we take the phrase

‘work ethics’

I’m not supposed to say it like that. I turn it into

‘were – keh – thiks’

So the ‘k’ sound becomes the beginning of the word ethics.

‘were – keh – thiks’

‘were – keh – thiks’

And if I want to hold out a word because I want to stress it, I’ll stress it without the consonant at the end.

‘were – keh – thiks’

Look at his ‘were – keh – thiks’.

‘were – keh – thiks’

‘keh-thiks’

‘were – keh – thiks’

You have to finish it. You have to finish it.

‘finish it’

It’s not ‘finish it’, but ‘fini – shit’.

‘fini – shit’

That’s how we need to treat it.

‘about it’

What ‘uh – baw – d’t’

It’s not. ‘What about it’

‘whuh – duh – baw – d’t’

I’m changing the sounds completely and notice my ‘t’s’ that are flapped, right?

‘whuh – duh – baw – d’t’

‘whuh – duh – baw – d’t’

‘whuh – duh – baw – d’t’

Right? So when I break it down, I divide the syllables a little differently.

So a word that ends with a consonant and the next word begins with a vowel

the consonant becomes the beginning of the next word.

‘one mile away’, how would you connect it? ‘one mile away’.

‘one – mai – laway’

‘one’, so the end connects to the ‘m’

‘one – mai – laway’

And the ‘l’ becomes the beginning of the next word which is ‘away’. So it sounds like

‘laway’ ‘laway’

‘one – mai – laway’

‘one – mai – laway’

Now this is really cool, and a great way to practice it is to take a sentence and just break it down to syllables

taking into consideration connected speech and how you connect all words together.

So you need to stop seeing the words as if they’re autonomous units

but everything blends in and connects together.

And we need to redivide the syllables differently, according to how we connect the words together.

Now when it comes to vowels, when one word ends with a vowel and the next word begins with a vowel

we need to understand what vowels we are talking about.

If it’s the same vowel or very close vowels, then we just connect them and make it sound like it’s one sound

for example

‘we each’

‘we each’

‘we each’

‘weeeeeeech’

Right? It’s just like one long ‘e’ sound.

‘we each’

‘weeeeeeech’

or

‘law office’

‘law office’

The last sound is ‘aw’ and the next sound is ‘aw’ as well, ‘office’.

Maybe sometimes people may pronounce the first one a bit more rounded, ‘law office’, right?

But they’re very similar and it sounds as if it’s one sound.

‘law office’

‘lawwwfis’

And don’t be afraid of not sounding clear here I guarantee that if you pronounce

everything else accurately, you will sound a lot better connecting these two words together

than separating them.

‘law office’

‘law office’

‘lawwwfis’

Now there is something interesting about connecting vowels because if we connect a back vowel

like an ‘u’ sound to another vowel, then we hear a new sound that is a w sound a ‘w’ sound, listen up

I don’t say ‘you always’. I mean I do if I separate the words, but if I want to connect them

‘yuw – (w)aa – ways’

‘yuw – (w)aa – ways’

And no, you don’t have to pronounce the ‘l’ in always

‘yuw – (w)aa – ways’

‘yuw – (w)aa – ways know’

‘yuw – (w)aa – ways’ do it

‘yuw – (w)aa – (w)aa’

Right? So that ‘w’ sound happens when the first vowel is an ‘u’ and the next sound is another vowel.

‘you always’

‘who is it?’

‘who – wi…’

‘wi’ ‘wi ‘wi’, right?

‘who – wi – zit’

Now look, if you follow the rule of keeping your voice going, it’s going to happen

anyway, it’s going to happen without even trying

‘yuw – (w)aa – ways’

‘yuw – (w)aa – ways’

Think about it, right?

If you don’t think of adding the ‘w’ sound, it will happen if you connect the words together naturally.

But if it’s something that is difficult for you, then artificially add that ‘w’ sound and you will see

that it helps you connect the words together.

‘yuw – (w)aa – ways’

‘who – wi – zit’

‘go about’

Go about, it’s not ‘go about’

‘go about’

‘go – (w)a – bawt’

‘go – (w)a – bawt’

Now if the first sound is an ‘e’ sound then we hear a ‘y’ sound.

‘see it’

It’s not ‘see it’

‘see – (y)it’

‘she always’

‘She always does it’

‘shee – (y)aa – ways’

‘y’ ‘y’ ‘y’

‘she always’

‘she already’

‘she – (y)aa – (y)aa’

Not ‘she already’.

So again, don’t try to be clear, add that ‘y’ sound and it will sound as if you’re connecting the words together.

I mean, you will be connecting the words together. So you’ll hear a ‘y’ sound.

‘we are here’

‘wee – (y) (y) (y)ar – here’

‘wee – (y)ar – here’

You know these intrusive sounds are a result of the movement of the tongue

moving from one vowel to another, since your voice keeps going and your tongue is moving

a new sound is created, so it’s totally natural and we actually want that.

So if we begin with an ‘u’ sound then we hear a ‘w’ and when we begin with an ‘e’ sound and shift to another

vowel, then we hear a ‘y’ sound.

One last thing, a little bonus that is related to connecting two consonants together.

Sometimes a completely new sound is formed and that happens when one word ends with a ‘t’

and the next word ends with a ‘y’ sound.

And then when we connect those two words together, we hear a ‘ch’ sound.

So one way of saying this phrase is

‘Can’t you’, a held ‘t’ and then a ‘y’ sound, can’t you?

But when people speak fast, what happens is that these two words connect and turn into a ‘ch’ sound.

‘can – chyou’

‘can – chyou’

‘wown – chyou’

‘ge – chy’r’

Get your butt in here.

‘ge – chy’r’

‘ch’ ‘ch’

It’s okay to say ‘get your’

but it’s a little easier to say ‘ge – chy’r’ ‘ge – chy’r’

Okay? So when a word ends with ‘t’

and the next word begins with a ‘y’ sound.

Same thing when a word ends with a ‘d’ and the next word begins with a ‘y’, then we hear a ‘dj’ sound.

‘did you’

‘di – djuw’

‘di – djuw’

You can say ‘did you’

but you’re more likely to hear people saying

‘di – djuw’

‘di – djuw’

Did you did you go there?

Did you eat?

Could you do it for me? Could you? Could you? Could you?

Hide your bag.

‘hai-dj’r’

‘hai-dj’r’

‘hai-dj’r’ bag

I know it looks weird when you see it, and writing it is completely different from how you say it

but if you say it slowly you’ll see that it actually sounds like you’re saying

‘hai-dj’r’ bag

Naturally, ‘hai-dj’r’ bag.

Okay, so what do you need to do now?

First of all, detect the combinations or transitions that are more challenging for you, taking into consideration

your habits or the patterns of your native tongue.

Okay? Whether it’s two consonants that go together or a consonant and a vowel

or maybe two vowels that go together.

Okay? And then take a text divide it into small units.

Right?

And try to connect all the words within the same unit.

Okay?

Bear in mind this idea of keeping your voice going, not stopping your breath as you speak in parts of

the sentence that you’d like to connect.

Now let’s turn it into a fun practice, write down in the comments below

four examples for each of the combinations that we discussed.

One is when one word ends with a vowel and the next word begins with a consonant.

Then when we connect two consonants together.

Then two vowels together.

And finally when a word ends with a consonant and the next word begins with a vowel.

So it’ll be a fun way to exercise it to practice it on your own

and then also see other examples and practice them as well.

Because it’s not enough to understand it, you’ve got to practice it and you’ve got to practice it always in context.

And you know what? If it’s still difficult and you find yourself separating the words, that’s okay.

First of all, mistakes are totally cool and mistakes are the only way to learn.

Okay? So you’ve got to remember that. Second of all, you’ll still be clear, even if you separate the words, okay?

But you want to strive for that, so you will sound more natural in English and you will feel like you’ve mastered

another element of English and that’s always cool. I think.

Okay. Thank you so much for watching.

Please share it with your non-native speaking friends if you liked it and come over to my website

and sign up for free for my audio Accent crash course or my interactive list of

the fifty most mispronounced words in English. So you click on it and you hear me say the word

and you see it written phonetically, it’s pretty fun!

Have a wonderful week and I’ll see you next week in the next video.

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2 Comments on “How to Connect Words and Sounds in English”

  1. This is very useful program,by this lessons everyone able to understand easly pronunciation in better way.

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