Pronunciation

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Tim's Pronunciation Workshop: 'was' and 'were'

Episode 58 / 09 May 2017

Tim
Hi. I'm Tim and this is my Pronunciation Workshop. Here, I'm going to show you how English is really spoken. Come on, let's go inside. Oh dear, excuse me. I’m a bit tired: I was out late last night, with the lads. I know, yeah, we didn't get back until 9.30. In the evening. It was a wild night. I know, I know, I am a party animal. Anyway, while I get myself together a bit, let's ask some other people in London what they got up to last night.

Voxpops
At 9 o'clock last night I was watching a movie.
I was laying in bed.
I was invited to a dinner at my friend's house.
I was playing football
I was out drinking.

Tim
Well well, what interesting lives we all lead. Now they all used the past form of the verb 'to be' – was. Now the word was is made of the sounds /w/, /ɔ:/, / z/, isn’t it? Or is it? Listen again. What sound can you actually hear?

Voxpops
At 9 o'clock last night I was watching a movie.
I was laying in bed.
I was invited to a dinner at my friend's house.
I was playing football
I was out drinking.

Tim
When the word was is unstressed, as in the examples we’ve just heard, then the vowel sound changes to a schwa - /ə/. So was becomes /wəz/, and also were becomes /wə/. These are called weak forms. Here are some more examples.

Examples
I was there when it happened.
We were delighted with the results.
We were having a good time until it rained.
He was feeling much better last night.

Tim
Right, now you've heard the examples, and now it's your turn. Listen and repeat.

Examples
I was there when it happened.
We were delighted with the results.
We were having a good time until it rained.
He was feeling much better last night.

Tim
Great work. Remember, if you want to learn more about pronunciation, then please visit our website, bbclearningenglish dot com. And that is about it from the Pronunciation Workshop for now. I'll see you soon. Bye bye! Now… oh look! Hey, you know what this is? This is WAS backwards. Get it? WAS backwards… it's a SAW. Now, I know what you were thinking. You were thinking that I was going to have some terrible accident. Well don’t worry – it’s not even switched on – look! Wooahhhhh!!!

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