TESOL/Weak forms

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High-frequency words in English often have alternative forms used in unstressed speech, such as conversation, called weak forms, which are reduced forms of those words. Weak forms pose difficulty to learners of English as a second language by making listening comprehension more difficult, which can lead a learner to mishear a word which may cause the learner to infer a different context despite evidence following the misunderstood word.

High frequency weak forms[edit]

These are 51 high-frequency weak forms in English:

word weak form
a ə
an ən
any
some səm sm
the ðə
at ət
for
from frəm
of əv ə
to
and ənd nd n
but bət
as əz
than ðən ðn
that ðət
who υ hυ
there ðe ðə (+r)
he ɪ hɪ
her ə hə
him ɪm
his ɪz
I ʌ
me
we
she ʃɪ
them ðəm ðm
us əs
you
your
our ɑ: ʌ
am əm
are ə
be
been bɪn
was wəz
were
can kən kn
could kəd kd
do dυ də
does dəz dz
had həd əd
has həz əz
have həv əv
must məst
shall ʃəI ʃI
should ʃəd ʃd
will wəl əI I
would wυd wəd d
-n’t n
Saint sənt snt
Sir

[1]

Homophonous weak forms[edit]

From the point of view of the listener, homophonous weak forms are identical. They sound the same. When a learner hears these forms, they have to focus to determine which word the speaker is thinking of:

weak form intended word
ə
  • a
  • are
  • of
  • er
əv
  • of
  • have
ən
  • an
  • and
əz
  • as
  • has
  • you
  • your

References[edit]

  1. Gimson 1994