Relaxed Pronunciation
Get Relaxed Pronunciation essential facts below. View Videos or join the Relaxed Pronunciation discussion. Add Relaxed Pronunciation to your topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Relaxed Pronunciation

Relaxed pronunciation (also called condensed pronunciation or word slurs) is a phenomenon that happens when the syllables of common words are slurred together. It is almost always present in normal speech, in all natural languages but not in some constructed languages, such as Loglan or Lojban, which are designed so that all words are parsable.

Some shortened forms of words and phrases, such as contractions or weak forms can be considered to derive from relaxed pronunciations, but a phrase with a relaxed pronunciation is not the same as a contraction. In English, where contractions are common, they are considered part of the standard language and accordingly used in many contexts (except in very formal speech or in formal/legal writing); however, relaxed pronunciation is markedly informal in register. This is also sometimes reflected in writing: contractions have a standard written form, but relaxed pronunciations may not, outside of eye dialect.

Certain relaxed pronunciations occur only in specific grammatical contexts, the exact understanding of which can be complicated. See trace (linguistics) for some further info.


The following sections contain common words said with relaxed pronunciation in American English, along with pronunciations given in IPA, and a common written indication of this pronunciation where applicable:

Of, have, and to

The words of, to, and have all tend to elide to nothing more than a schwa [?] in many common situations. This sometimes leads to spelling confusion, such as writing "I could of..." instead of "I could have..." or "I could've".

  • could have: ['k], coulda or ['kv], could uhv.
  • must have: ['m?st?], musta or ['m?st?v], must uhv.
  • should have: ['?], shoulda or ['?v], should uhv.
  • would have: ['w], woulda or ['wv], would uhv.
  • it would: when contracted, it's pronounced ['d], iduhd, but this often collapses to ['?d], ihd.
  • it would / it would have: ['], itta.
  • a lot of: [?'l], a lotta.
  • kind of: ['ka?], kinda.
  • out of: ['a], outta.
  • sort of: ['s?], sorta.
  • going to: ['n?], gonna.
  • got to: ['?], gotta.
  • have to: ['hæft?], hafta.
  • want to: ['w?], wanna.
  • ought to : ['], oughta.

"Would" can also be contracted ("I'd have done things differently."), which usually yields [] ("I would have..." can be pronounced [a]). The [v] in "have" and "of" is usually retained before a vowel sound (e.g. in "I could have asked...").


"You" tends to elide to [j?] (often written "ya"). Softening of the preceding consonant also may occur: (/t/ + /j?/ = [t], /d/ + /j?/ = [d], /s/ + /j?/ = [], and /z/ + /j?/ = []). This can also happen with other words that begin with [j] (e.g. "your", "yet", "year"). In some dialects, such as Australian English, this is not a relaxed pronunciation but compulsory: got you ['t?j?:] (never *['tj?:])[].

  • did you: ['d?d], didja
  • do you: ['d], d'ya
  • don't you: ['do?nt], doncha
  • got you: ['t], gotcha
  • get you / get your: ['t], getcha
  • would you: ['w?d], wouldja


  • -ing forms of verbs and sometimes gerunds tend to be pronounced with an [n] at the end instead of the expected [i?] or []. E.g. talking: ['tkn], tahkin. If followed by a [t], this can in turn blend with it to form []. E.g. talking to Bob: ['tk 'b?b], tahkinna Bob
  • "I will" gets contracted to "I'll" [a?j?l], which in turn gets reduced to "all" [?l] in relaxed pronunciation. E.g. I'll do it: ['?l 'du(t)], all do it
  • "he" tends to elide to just [i] after consonants, sometimes after vowel sounds as well. E.g. is he: ['?zi], izee; all he: ['?li], ahlee
  • "his", "him", and "her" tend to elide in most environments to [z], [m], and [?], respectively. E.g. meet his: ['miz], meetiz; tell him: ['tlm], tellim; show her ['?o], show-er
  • "them" tends to elide to [?m] after consonants. E.g. ask them: ['æsk?m], ask'em. (Historically, this is a remnant of the Middle English pronoun hem.)
  • about: ['ba?t], bout
  • already: [?'i], ahready
  • all right: [?'it], ahright
  • all right: [?'?it], aight
  • come here: ['k?mi(?)?], cuhmeer
  • don't know: ['no?], [d?'no?] if not preceded by a vowel sound, dunno
  • fixing to: "finna"
  • give me: ['mi], gimme
  • I'm going to: ['a?m?], "I'mma" or ['?m?n?], "Ah-muhnuh"
  • is it: [z?t], 'zit
  • isn't it: ['?n?t], innit
  • let me: ['l?mi], lemme
  • let's: [ts], E.g. let's go: [ts'?o?]
  • library: ['la?b?i], ['labi]
  • probably: ['pli], ['pbli], prolly, probly
  • suppose: [spo?z] s'pose. E.g. I suppose so: [ai spo?z so?]
  • trying to: ['t?a?] "trynna"
  • want to: ['w?], wanna
  • what is that: [?w?'sæt], wussat
  • what is up: [w?'s?p], wassup
  • what is up: [s?p], 'sup
  • what are you: ['w?t], whatcha
  • what have you: ['w?t], whatcha. E.g. What have you been up to? : [w?t b?n ?p tu]
  • what do you/what are you: ['wj?], whaddaya
  • you all: [j?l], y'all


  • weenie = Ik weet het niet ("I don't know")
  • lama = Laat maar (zitten) ("Nevermind")

Examples of the Dutch as spoken in the Netherlands include:

  • der = haar ("her")
  • ie = hij ("he"), often used in phrases such as dattie for dat hij ("that he")
  • amme = aan mijn ("on / to my"), for example in ammezolen for aan mijn zolen ("not on your life")

Often, especially in Belgian Dutch, the -t at the end of the word is omitted.

  • nie = niet
  • da = dat For example, kweet da nie = Ik weet dat niet ("I don't know that")
  • wasda = wat is dat ("What is that")


  • Ich ("I") -> ch/(sch) Ich weiß ("I know") -> Schweiß (would translate, literally, to "sweat". A common source of some well-known jokes)
  • Du ("you", singular) -> de/d - Weißt du ("do you know") -> Weißte
  • Wir ("we") -> mer - Können wir ... ("can we") => Kö(n)mmer ..., Kennen wir! ("we know") -> Ke(n)mmer!
  • Das ("this/the") -> (d)s - Das Pferd dort ("The horse over there") -> 's Pferd dort
  • es ("it") -> s - Es regnet ("It's raining") -> 's regnet
  • Ist ("is") -> is/s - ist es möglich ("is it possible") -> isses möglich
  • denn ("then, actually, anyway") -> (d)n - Was ist denn los? ("What's up") -> Was'n los?
  • so ein(e) ("such a") -> so'n(e), von so einem ("of such a") -> von so'm
  • vielleicht ("maybe") -> v'leisch (same pronunciation as Fleisch, "meat", also a source of jokes)

A wide range of possible pronunciations can be found in the negatory 'nicht ("not") depending on the dialect region.

See also Synalepha


The most notable example in Russian language is the greeting (['zdrastvujt]), which is colloquially pronounced ['zdrast]. Other examples include:

  • [sj't?as] -> [?:as] or [?:a] ('now')
  • ? [s'vod?n] -> ['sd?n] ('today')
  • [?to] -> [t] ('what'; originally a contraction of Genitive ? [t?i'vo], but can be used instead of Nominative too)
  • [k?'?da] -> ? [k?'da] ('when')
  • ['t?st?a] -> ? ['t:a] ('thousand')
  • ? [z?d's?at] -> ['s?at] ('sixty')

Contracted forms are usually found only in colloquial contexts, but they can occur in poetry.

For example, look at the verse from the Russian translation of Avesta (Mihr Yasht, verse 129):

? ?

"On a side of the chariot of Mithra, the lord of wide pastures, stand a thousand ... arrows, with a golden mouth."

This contrasts with contracted forms found in colloquial speech in that it is used to keep the original rhythm. The previous verse (verse 128) has a literary form:


"On a side of the chariot of Mithra, the lord of wide pastures, stand a thousand bows well-made, with a string of cowgut".


The phrase tu as (you have) is frequently elided to t'as and tu es (you are) to t'es. The same with je suis (I am) to j'suis or ch'uis (very informal, or regional), and je [ne] sais pas (I don't know) to j'sais pas or ch'ais pas (very informal, or regional). The expression, "Qu'est-ce que..." is little used in colloquial speech for forming the interrogative, but when it is, in very informal use, it is shortened:

"Qu'est-ce que tu veux ?" becomes... "Qu'est-c'tu veux ?"

"Qu'est-ce que tu as dit?" becomes... "Qu'est-c't'as dit?"

A more complex sentence, such as "il ne savait peut-être plus ce qu'il faisait" ("Perhaps he knew no more what he was doing"), can become "i n'savait p'têt plus c'qui v'zait" [in sav?p t?t plys kiv z?], or even further relaxed, "i sa'ait têt' pu c'qui v'zait" [i sa?p t?t pys kiv z?].[1]


Forms of the verb estar ("to be") are often shortened by dropping the first syllable (as if the verb were *tar)[].

  • Estoy aquí -> Toy aquí.
  • Acá está. -> Acá ta. ("Here it is", joking tone or baby-talk)
  • Para -> Pa'.

Often, d will turn into its approximant, the Voiced dental fricative, which is "softer"; and when placed between two vowels it might disappear in relaxed pronunciation[].

As such, the d in the final -ado of past participles can disappear: Estoy cansado ("I am tired") is heard as Toy cansao; this is also applied to the final -ido, as in Me he perdido ("I got lost"), which is heard as *Me perdío. This phenomenon is often perceived as uncultured, and can lead to hypercorrections like *bacalado instead of bacalao ("cod")[].

Hiatus between two words will often lead to these merging[], with del being the grammatically correct form of de el. If the merged word is small enough, it might be omitted entirely[]:

  • Me he perdido -> Me perdío

Some dialects like Andalusian Spanish lose the syllable-final s. Since it is important as a mark of plurals, it is substituted with vowel opening[].



= está ([it/she/he] is)
tamém = também (also)
ma = uma (a/one)
'vambora = vamos embora (let's go)
'bora = vamos embora (let's go)
pra, pa = para (to)
= você (you)
home = homem (man)
= vou (I will) (In Portugal 'ô' is the standard pronunciation of 'ou')
portuga, tuga = português (both for the Portuguese people and language)
para + o = pro -further contraction-> po.
para + a = pra -> pa.
para + os = pros -> pos.
para + as = pras -> pas.
num = não (no/don't. It is just used in the beginning or middle of a sentence).
né? = não é? (it is equivalente to the tag questions).
d'uma = de uma (of a).

In some dialects, que (that) is reduced to the "q" sound:

que + a = q'a
que + o = q'o
que + ela = q'ela (that she)
que + ele = q'ele (that he)
que + é = q'é (that is)
que + foi = q'foi (that was), etc...

In Portugal, the mute 'e' and the final unstressed vowels are often elided:

perigo = prigo (danger)
mete água = met água (put water)
muito mais = muit mais (much more)
fala inglês = fal inglês (speaks english) (if the following word starts with a consonant, the final 'a' cannot be elided)


Japanese can undergo some vowel deletion or consonant mutation in relaxed speech. While these are common occurrences in the formation of some regular words, typically after the syllables ku or tsu, as in gakk? (? gaku + ? k?) "school" or shuppatsu (? shutsu + ? hatsu) "departure", in rapid speech, these changes can appear in words that did not have them before, such as suizokkan for suizokukan "aquarium." Additionally, the syllables ra, ri, ru, re and ro sometimes become simply n or when they occur before another syllable beginning with n or d, and disappear entirely before syllabic n. This can happen within a word or between words, such as wakannai "I dunno" for wakaranai "I don't know" or ? m? kite n da yo "they're already here" for m? kite iru n da yo.

Relaxed pronunciation also makes use of several contractions.



  • Ne haber? (What's up?)-> N'aber?
  • Ne oluyor? (What's going on?) -> N'oluyor?
  • Ne yap?yorsun? (What are you doing?) -> N'ap?yorsun?
    • This can further be reduced -> N'ap?yon

In all of these cases, the pronounced length of the initial vowel is slightly extended, though in the case of "nap?yon" the terminal vowel maintains its initial length or, if anything, is shortened.


In Hindustani, it is common to elide the sound /h/ /<?> in normal speech. For example, ? / ? ?p kah j? rahe hãi will be pronounced / ?p k j? re ãi.

See also


  1. ^ Die Symptyx im spontanen französischen Redefluss , Les Editions du Troubadour, accessed December 14, 2013.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes