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Learning English - Welcome to London Big Ben
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Unit 1: Transport
 
Speak  1: Comparisons and the 'schwa' sound
 
The schwa sound
 
 
John and Fiona have been discussing which type of transport to use. In their conversation they often use the schwa sound when making comparisons about the different types of transport.
 
Instructions for exercise
 
The schwa sound is the most common weak sound in the English language and is very important because it helps to give English its rhythm.
The sound is used frequently, including when making comparisons.
Click on a sentence below to listen to it.
Look out for the text turning red to detect when the schwa sound is used during comparisons and then try and repeat the pronunciation.

 Flash exercise not working? Try the basic version.

 
Language tips - grammar
 
When we have 2 things to compare

The tube is quicker than the Airbus - quick is a short adjective (adjective + er + than).
The Airbus is more expensive than the Tube - expensive is a long adjective (more + adjective + than).
The Tube is not as quick as the Heathrow Express (not as + adjective + as). This is the same as saying 'The Heathrow Express is quicker than the tube'.

When we have 3 things to compare

The Tube is the cheapest (the + adjective + est). Remember, cheap is a short adjective.
A Taxi is the most expensive (the + most + adjective). Remember, expensive is a long adjective.


 
 
  Units
 
 
Unit 1: Transport
 
 
 
Listen 1: Choosing transport from Heathrow into town
 
 
 
Listen 2: At the ticket office
 
 
 
Listen 3: In the Underground station
 
 
 
Read 1: Comparing travel options
 
 
 
Speak 1: Comparisons and the 'schwa' sound
 
 
 
Unit 2: Hotel
 
Unit 3: Cinema
 
Unit 4: Shopping
 
Unit 5: Work
 
Unit 6: Eating Out
 
  Useful links
 
 
BBC London travel news