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Sometimes short is best, and in this session we look at spoken short forms. Why say give me when you can say gimme? Learn more, improve your pronunciation and test your knowledge.

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6 Minute Vocabulary

Spoken short forms

Gonna, wanna, dunno, whatcha... are these really English words? Who uses them and why? Finn and Catherine give you an introduction to short spoken forms in 6 Minute Vocabulary.

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Finn
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary with me Finn…

Catherine
And me Catherine. Today we’re talking about short spoken forms.

Finn
That's words like gonna, wanna and gotta that we use a lot in spoken English. Let’s start by listening to Jason and Yuki talking about their plans for the weekend.

Catherine
And here’s a question: Who’s Yuki meeting on Saturday night? Have a listen.
 

INSERT
Jason
Whatcha doing at the weekend, Yuki?

Yuki
I dunno. I’m probably gonna meet Lucy on Saturday night.

Jason
Oh, right. Do you wanna come to the cinema in the afternoon?

Yuki
No, thanks. I’ve gotta finish an English essay for Monday morning.

Jason
OK. Lemme know if you change your mind.

STING

Finn
Well that was Jason and Yuki. We asked you: Who’s Yuki meeting on Saturday night?

Catherine   
And the answer is: she’s probably going to meet Lucy.

Finn
That’s right. But instead of saying going to, Yuki said gonna. She’s probably gonna meet Lucy.

Catherine
Yes, and that’s what we’re looking at in this programme. English speakers often say the words going to very fast – and it sounds like gonna. They usually do this in informal situations when they’re talking to friends.

Finn
So does that mean that you shouldn’t say gonna when you need to speak carefully and politely, like in a job interview?

Catherine
Well, not necessarily. If gonna comes out naturally, it’s probably ok. But a job interview is formal, so it’s probably a bit more polite to say going to. And you don’t usually use gonna in writing, unless you’re actually writing down a dialogue.

Finn
In fact some people never use it, even informally. Although it’s probably more common in American English.

Catherine
That's right. And one other thing about gonna is that we only use it to replace going to when it’s followed by a verb.

Finn
That's true. If you say: I’m going to Paris, you can’t use gonna to say: I’m gonna Paris. You’d have to add a verb, like this, and say: I’m gonna go to Paris.

Catherine
I'm gonna go to Paris. Let’s have another clip with some more short spoken forms.

INSERT CLIP 1      
Jason
Whatcha
doing at the weekend, Yuki?

Yuki
I dunno. I’m probably gonna meet Lucy on Saturday night.

Finn
So Jason said whatcha. Whatcha. That’s a short form of what are you. Or sometimes what do you.

Catherine
And Yuki said I dunno. I dunno. That’s a short spoken form of I don’t know.

Finn
Let’s have another clip. See if you can spot any more.

INSERT CLIP 2
Jason
Oh, right. Do you wanna come to the cinema in the afternoon?

Yuki
No, thanks. I’ve gotta finish an English essay for Monday morning.

Catherine
Did you get them? We heard wanna. That’s a short form of want to. Do you wanna come to the cinema in the afternoon?

Finn
And there was also gotta. Gotta. I’ve gotta finish an English essay. Here, gotta is short for got to. But gotta can also be short for the possessive got a, like in I’ve gotta new mobile.

Catherine
And now for the last clip. 

INSERT CLIP 3
Jason
OK. Lemme know if you change your mind.

Finn
Can you guess what lemme is short for? It’s let me. Let me know if you change your mind.

Catherine
Yes. And there are others like hafta, hafta, for have to or gimme, that's gimme, for give me.

Finn
Now what about kinda, kinda, for kind of? Like She’s kinda nice. 

IDENT          
6 Minute Vocabulary from BBC Learning English.

Finn
And we’re talking about spoken short forms. So Catherine, whatcha gonna do in the quiz?

Catherine
Let's go. Quiz question number one: what’s a more informal way to say I’ve got to phone the bank?

Finn
It’s I’ve gotta phone the bank.

Catherine
Good. And number two: you want to know what your friend is doing tonight. How can you ask them, using a spoken short form?

Finn
You could say: whatcha doing tonight?

Catherine
And number three: you think it’s going to rain. Tell your friend using a spoken short form.

Finn
You could say: I think it’s gonna rain.

Catherine
And that’s the end of the quiz. Well done if you got them all right. Now before we go, here’s a vocabulary tip. Try to watch TV, movies and video clips regularly in English. Listen out for short spoken forms and practise repeating them. It will help you to understand better when you listen and sound more natural when you speak.

Finn
There’s more about this at bbclearningenglish.com. We’ve gotta go now, but do join us again soon for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.

Both
Bye!

Downloads

You can download 6 Minute Vocabulary from our Unit 4 Downloads page. Remember, you can also subscribe to the podcast version.

Vocabulary points to take away

Spoken short forms are ways of saying phrases quickly in informal situations. Some common examples are:

gonna - going to
I'm gonna watch a DVD.

wanna - want to
Do you wanna watch too?

whatcha - what are you
Whatcha doing?

dunno - don’t know
I dunno.

gotta - got to (or got a)
I've gotta go now.

hafta - have to
Do you hafta go already?

gimme - give me
Gimme a call tomorrow.

lemme - let me
Lemme know what you think.

kinda - kind of
She's kinda nice.

Next

So, there are lots of spoken short forms in informal English. In the next activity, you listen to a conversation and find all the short forms. See you there!

이번 세션 문법

Session Vocabulary

  • gonna – going to
    I’m gonna watch a DVD.

    wanna – want to
    Do you wanna watch too?

    whatcha – what are you
    Whatcha doing?

    dunno - don’t know
    I dunno.

    gotta – got to (or: got a)
    I’ve gotta go now.

    hafta – have to
    Do you hafta go already?

    gimme – give me
    Gimme a call tomorrow.

    lemme – let me
    Lemme know what you think.

    kinda – kind of
    She’s kinda nice.