»Practise rhythm in the phrases below. Listen in British or American English
Pronunciation of the weak or "schwa" vowel:
The use of the weak or "schwa" vowel gives English speech its natural rhythm. It is used in:
1. Certain unstressed syllables (see 1 above):
"together, photographer, analysis, percent"
2. Positive auxiliary verbs (see 2 above):
"was, were, have, does"
3. Non-final prepositions (see 3 above):
"to, for, of, into"
4. Other function words (see 4 above):
"a, an, and, but"
(blue = ‘weak’ vowel)
• He’s got to try to find out how to get there.
• She can swim and ski but she can’t skate.
• Don’t forget to phone first and check they can go.
• They sleep at eight and wake at ten
• He went to live in Canada for four years
• Seventy percent of photographers prefer this camera.
The ‘weak’ vowel is NOT used when:
1. Prepositions and auxiliary verbs are sentence final.
2. Auxiliary verbs are negative.
3. The speaker wants to emphasise a preposition, positive auxiliary verb or
other function word.
“No, I gave a nice present to Sarah”
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