Many words in English have two pronunciations. There is a stressed form of the word and an unstressed form of the word which is called the ‘weak form’. For example, the word ‘your’ is pronounced as /jɔː/ (stressed form) and as /jə/ (weak form).

Weak forms are often hard to hear in the sentence and it may seem as if the sound is ‘swallowed’. Native speakers use weak forms all the time in their natural speech, which makes them harder to understand than non-native speakers. Weak forms are also the reason native speakers appear to be speaking quickly, when in fact, often they are speaking at a normal tempo.

By learning the weak forms of words and then using them you can greatly improve the overall rhythm and flow of your speech in English.

Click the audio player link at the bottom of the page to listen to this podcast lesson on how to pronounce the schwa weak forms. Here are a few example words taken from the lesson:

cat in a hat = /ˈkæ.tɪ.nə hæt/

Does he know him? = /ˈdʌz.i nəʊ hɪm/

Lend us some money = /ˈlen.dəs sʌm ˈmʌ.ni/

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