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PERFECT ENGLISH – 10 must-know English words! | Rachel’s English Pronunciation | Top 100 words


Today, you are getting the next video in the 100 most common words in English series. This is video 10, where we will be covering the last 10 words, that is 91 through 100 in the most common words in English list. In this series, we’re studying the real pronunciation. This is likely different from what you learned in English class. You see, in American English, we have all sorts of words that are unstressed or even reduced: that means we change the pronunciation. The set of the 100 most common words in American English contains many, many words that reduce. If you haven’t already seen video 1 and the other videos in this series, I do suggest you start there. These videos build one on top of the next, so click here to watch video one. In this final video, we do have a couple of great reductions. But our first word, number 91, isn’t a word that reduces. The word is ‘even’, and this is an adjective, an adverb, or a verb. So a content word, usually stressed in a sentence. But as I wrote sample sentences, I was thinking about how sometimes even content words seem unstressed because there are so many other stressed words that are more stressed in a sentence. First, let’s study word stress. It’s a two-syllable word, with stress on the first syllable, the EE vowel. Ee. Even, ee. The tongue tip is down, touching the back of the bottom front teeth, and the top front part of the tongue arches towards the roof of the mouth, ee. The corners of the lips may pull out a bit. Ee. Even. Then we have V, schwa, N. When the schwa is followed by N, it’s absorbed by it, so you don’t need to try to make a schwa sound, then an N sound. You can think of just going straight from V right into N, vn, vn, vn. It’s flat, low in pitch, and said very quickly. It’s an unstressed syllable. Even in our stressed words, unstressed syllables are fast, less clear. Even, even. Let’s look at some sample sentences. I didn’t make much money, but I did break even. Even numbers can be divided by two. Even, even. In both of these sentences, the word was longer and clearer. But let’s look at two other sentences. This one’s even better. Here, THIS and BETTER are more stressed, the flow goes UH-uh-UH. This one’s even better. BETTER is much more important than EVEN, so I stress that more. This one’s even better. This makes ‘even’ feel unstressed. This one’s even, even, even. This one’s even better. Do you hear how it’s flatter and doesn’t have the up-down shape? This one’s even, even, even, even, even, even, better. That means it’s unstressed. I don’t even know what to do. I don’t even know what to do. Even, even, even. I don’t even know. I don’t even, even, even, even. Unstressed, less clear than KNOW and DO. I don’t even know what to do. Even, even, even. This makes EVEN feel unstressed. The contrast with the longer, up-down shape of those stressed syllables. So when should you make sure to make it stressed? I would say when it’s a verb or a phrasal verb. But if it’s an adverb describing a verb, or an adjective describing another adjective, then you can make it unstressed. Because the verb or adjective it’s
describing will be more stressed. Stressed or unstressed: Even, even. Even, even. Number 92. The word NEW. This is an adjective. It’s a content word, it’s stressed. If you look it up, depending on the dictionary, it might say that this word has two pronunciations. That’s not really true. We only use one, and it’s N consonant
and oo vowel new, new. The dictionary might give an alternate pronunciation, new, with the EW diphthong like in ‘few’, new, but I really have not heard anyone use that pronunciation in conversational or business or even
more formal English. New. New. You don’t want to start with your lips in a tight circle for OO, nooo, nooo, that’s not quite right. Start with your lips more relaxed, then bring them in for the OO vowel. New, new, new. Let’s look at some sample sentences. There’s a new idea. I lost my new camera. She has a new book coming out. New, new, up-down shape of stress, a little longer, it’s one of the more clear words in the sentences. Number 93, the word ‘want’. Now, we mentioned this when we were looking at number 58, the word him, in the sample sentence, “We want him to succeed.” So when do re-visit that sample sentence. But first, let’s talk about is it a content
word or a function word. Will it generally be stressed, or unstressed in a sentence. It’s, a verb, or it can also be a noun. Those are content words, so this word is
usually stressed in a sentence. With stressed words, we don’t really
reduce, we don’t drop or change a sound. But every once in a while we do, and
‘want’ is one of those words. It’s a content word, it’s stressed, but still, it’s not uncommon to drop the T at the end. Let’s look at our sample sentence, We
want him to succeed. Want him, want him. Want is stressed, but there’s no T. I’m dropping the H in him, a very common reduction, and we link the two words together, want him, want him, want him. It’s common to do this when the next
word begins with a vowel or diphthong: I want everyone to be there. No T. Want everyone, want everyone. We want her to do to better. Want her, want her. Dropping the H, ‘want’ is now followed by
a vowel, and so I dropped the T. Want her, want her. I want another one. Want another, want another. Dropped T. In all of these sentences it was stressed, longer, with the up-down shape of stress. But, at the same time it was reduced. The T was dropped. What if the next word begins with a consonant? Then we make that a Stop sound. Just like with N’T endings, it’s a nasally
stop sound because of the N, want, want, nt, nt, nt, nt, nt. So as you’re making the N, you make an abrupt stop by the air stopping airflow. Want, want. And that the stop sound. I want that. Want that. I want that I want this one, want, nt, nt, nt, want. Ok, we’ve talked about the ending a lot, what about the rest of the word? It begins with the W consonant, then you have your choice of two vowels, AH as in FATHER or AW as in LAW,
according to the dictionary. Let’s try them out, AH, Father, AH, wa-, want. Want. Or AW, LAW, want, want. Want or AH, LAW, AH, Want, Want, want. Those both work, but I also hear a lot of Americans saying ‘want’, ah, law want. this is what I do, with the UH as in BUTTER vowel. Waa–, want, want. I don’t want that, want, waaa–, want. Want. So you have your choice of three vowels. You’re also probably familiar with the reduction ‘wanna’. This is want + to, and we drop the T. I think in this reduction, it’s especially common to use the UH vowel, wanna, wanna. I know, they ‘wanna’ see you. Wanna. So a stressed word, but we might reduce it. Number 94, a function word that does
often reduce, the word ‘because’. Just like with the word ‘want’ the stressed syllable here might be pronounced with the AH as in FATHER vowel, because, the AW as in LAW vowel, because, or the UH as in BUTTER Vowel, because. Because, because, because. But this words is a conjunction, a preposition, that is, a function word, and so we often reduce it. We say it really quickly and not too clearly, and we change it, even the stressed syllable, to be the schwa. Because, because, because,
because, because, because. OR we go even further, and we drop the
first syllable, cuz, cuz. You’ve probably seen people write C-U-Z, I don’t like that. I don’t like writing
reductions, though it’s really common. But speaking reductions, that’s great. That’s wonderful English. Let’s look at a few example. We’re late ‘cuz’ there was a traffic jam. Cuz, cuz. Late cuz. Or I could say, we’re late because there was a traffic jam. Because, because, because. Either way, one syllable or two, it’s unstressed, reduced, not fully pronounced. They’re staying home ‘cuz’ of the storm. She’s grounded ‘cuz’ of her grades. ‘Grounded’ means in trouble, facing
restrictions, usually this is something parents do teenagers for breaking rules or bad behavior. The ‘cuz’ or because reduction. Number 95, the word ‘any’. This word can be stressed or unstressed in a sentence, but it doesn’t reduce. We don’t drop or change a sound, we just make the quality different to make it stressed or unstressed: ANY vs. any. Any. We would stress this word when using it
as an adjective describing a noun: any kid would love that. What kind of kid? Any kid. At any rate, that’s a good deal. Any kid, any rate. Otherwise, it can sound unstressed: Do you feel any better? FEEL any BETTER? Feel any, any, any, any, any. There it’s not that up down shape here compared to FEEL and BETTER: Feel any better? any, any, any, any. Lower in pitch and flatter. Unstressed We also use ‘any’ for an unknown amount. Then it sounds unstressed: Do you have any money? Have any, any, any, any. Do you have any time? Any, any, any, said quickly, flat and low in pitch. Any, any. The pronunciation: We have the EH as in BED vowel, EH, eh-n, the N consonant and an unstressed EE. Any, any. Any or any. Number 96, wow, we’re getting close to the end! Number 96 is ‘these’. This word can be stressed or unstressed, depending on how it’s being used, but we don’t reduce it. Voiced TH, EE vowel, weak ending these. I want to point out that when this word is unstressed, I’ll even say any time it doesn’t begin a thought group, it’s common to cheat the pronunciation of
the TH a little bit. It still sounds like a TH to us, but we’ll make it without bringing the tongue tip through the teeth: These, these. We make it like this. These, these, these. The tongue tip is just behind the teeth, the, the, the, these, then it pulls down for the E vowel. You might see my tongue behind the teeth, the –, these, these, but I’m not really bringing it out. tttttthhhhese, these. Instead It’s these, these, these. This is an important shortcut for non-native speakers since so many of them struggle with the full pronunciation of the TH sound. Th, th, th, thse, these, the tongue tip isn’t at the roof of the mouth, and it’s not pointing down. It’s pressing the backs of the teeth and then pulling away. These, these. Let’s look at some examples. First, sentences where they’re not stressed: Everyone wants one of these. These, these, these. We need these to be cut in half. These, these, these. Simple TH pronunciation where the tip does not come thru. Now lets make it stressed, like at the
beginning of the sentence: These are great. These people need help. These, these, tongue tip is coming thru and we have that up-down shape, a little longer, a little clearer. These. Number 97, give. This is a verb, and verbs are content words, which means they’re stressed and they don’t reduce. Except certain ones can reduce, and this is one of them. Give, G consonant, IH vowel, V consonant. I’ll give you that for your birthday. Give. I’ll give you. Stressed, fully pronounced. We’re going to give her a discount. Give, give, again stressed and fully pronounced. But with ‘me’, it’s common to reduce this. It’s still a verb and it’s still stressed, but we
drop the final V sound: Gimme that. Gi– stressed, but no V. Gimme, Gimme that. In fact, sometimes you might see it written GIMME. Gimme, gimme, gimme. Gimme that. Can you gimme more time? So the G-I syllable is still stressed, gi —
even though we’re dropping the final V. This is just like ‘want’. It’s a content word, a stressed word, and yet, in certain cases, we drop the final sound. Isn’t it interesting? As you study how Americans really speak, you see that the full pronunciation often isn’t the most natural or common pronunciation. If all you learned was the book pronunciation, you’d have a pretty hard time putting sentences together naturally. That’s what this video series is about. Getting you to see it’s not always about a full, clear pronunciation in English. Let’s keep going. Number 98, the word ‘day’. This is always a noun, and it is always
stressed. We don’t reduce it! Out of all of the most common words that we’ve studied so far, almost 100, this is only number 25 that is never unstressed or reduced. Wow! D consonant, AY as in SAY diphthong. First drop your jaw, a-, then arch the top front part of the tongue towards the roof of the mouth. and the jaw relaxes up. Ay, day, day. I need another day to finish. What day is he coming back? Let’s call it a day. Day, day, up-down shape of stress, longer clearer. That last sentence, let’s call it a day, is an idiom that means, let’s stop doing what we’re doing. It usually refers to work. For example, if I’m working late at night,
David might come up to my office and say, Rachel, why don’t you call it a day? Number 99, the word ‘most’. This can be several different parts of speech, but all uses are content words. So this word is generally stressed. But it still might get a small reduction, and that’s because of the ending cluster. This is just like number 88, first, or number 57, just. When the word is followed by a consonant, it’s common to drop the T. Most people like it. Most people. Most people. It’s the most challenging part. Most challenging Most challenging Most people, most challenging. We drop this T because it comes between
two consonants and sometimes we do that to make speech smoother. To make the transition between two words smoother. If the word is followed by a word that begins with a vowel or diphthong, or at the end of your thought group, then do make the T: I got most of the questions right. Here it’s followed by a vowel. Most of the, most of the, most, and I’am making a T. Most. Most. M consoant, OH diphthong, mo-. Jaw drop then lip rounding Mo-, most. Then the ST cluster. Most. Number 100! The final word! Us. This word is a pronoun, a function word,
and so it’s not normally stressed. It’s unstressed. They took us to the movies. Took us, us, us, us. They gave it to us for our anniversary. Gave it to us, us, us, us, us. You could write this in IPA as schwa-S. Fully pronounced, it’s UH as in BUTTER – S. US, but unstressed, us, us, us. If it’s the last word in a sentence, I would
stress it: This belongs to us. Us, up-down shape of stress. But usually, us, us, us, unstressed. Flat in pitch said very quickly. Wow. There it is, the whole list, the 100 most common words in English, how Americans pronounce them. I started this project to show students
how frequently we reduce words, and the contrast of stressed and unstressed words. I feel like we still have a lot to learn from this list. Let’s do one more video together, where
we look at the list as a whole and come up with your pronunciation strategies. Join me for the last video in this series, which will coming up next week, Tuesday morning eastern time. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.

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