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Unit 2: English In A Minute
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Session 51

Sian explains what the schwa is, which will help your pronunciation, in this English In A Minute.

Activity 1

The schwa

Have you ever wondered how to use the schwa? Find out with Sian in this English In A Minute.

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Sian

Let's find out how to make your pronunciation more natural.

So in fast speech we don't pronounce every word equally. Fast words are often pronounced as this sound - the schwa.

It's a lazy sound like this uh. Here are some examples:

In natural speech grammar words like articles, prepositions can be reduced to a schwa.

A and of can become Ə. An becomes Əm. To becomes tƏ.

A cup of tea becomes Ə cup Ə tea.

Also the auxiliary have is often reduced to just Ə.

Would have becomes wouldƏ, should have - shouldƏ and could have - couldƏ.

You should have told me, I would have helped.

And with going to, the to often becomes Ə so we get gƏnnƏ and want to becomes wƏnnƏ.

So if you want to sound more natural you're going to have to use the schwa.

The Schwa

The schwa is the most common sound in the English. Learning it can make your pronunciation more natural.

It is a weak vowel sound and sounds like uh.

In natural speech grammar words like articles and prepositions can become a schwa.

A and of can become Ə. An becomes Əm.

  • A cup of tea = Ə cup Ə tea
  • A glass of wine = Ə glass Ə wine

To becomes .

  • I'll talk to him later = I'll talk tƏ him later. 

Also the auxiliary have is often reduced to just Ə.

Would have = wouldƏ

Should have = shouldƏ

Could have = couldƏ

  • I could have done that = I couldƏ done that

Going to = gƏnnƏ and want to = wƏnnƏ.

  • I'm going to want to go = I'm gƏnnƏ wƏnnƏ go

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