Introduction
 
 
 
 
American English Reductions Introduction

Reductions are words like gonna which are not real words but are used in TV, movies, music, literature, and in conversations among native English speakers.
You need to use reductions in order to sound more natural
The following table has the most common reductions used by Americans
 
Common Reductions
Reduction Formed From
whassup what + is + up
whatser what + is + her
whatsiz what + is + his
Reduction Formed From
gimme give + me
lemme let + me
Reduction Formed From
coulda could + have
mighta might + have
musta must + have
shoulda should + have
woulda would + have
Reduction Formed From
gonna going + to
gotta got + to
hafta have + to
hasta has + to
oughta ought + to
wanna want + to
Reduction Formed From
donno do + not + know
dunno do + not + know
Reduction Formed From
jeet did + you + eat
jev did + you + have
jever did + you + ever
Common Reductions
Reduction Formed From
betcha bet + you
doncha don't + you
getcha get + you
gotcha got + you
howarya how + are + you
howdya how + do + you
howjya how + did + you
howujya how + would + you
jya did + you
whaddaya what + are + you
whaddaya what + do + you
wancha want + you
whajya what + did + you
whenjya when + did + you
wherjya where + did + you
whojya who + did + you
woujya would + you
Reduction Formed From
frunna front + of
kinda kind + of
kindsa kinds + of
lotsa lots + of
lotta lot + of
outta out + of
sorta sort + of
typa type + of
Which reductions should you learn?

The reductions in the table are most often used by native English speakers. Each reduction page has examples, songs with lyrics, and TV advertisements, showing the usage and pronunciation.
  • What are reductions?
  • Reductions are reduced forms of English words.
  • Reductions, such as gonna, are not real words in English.
  • You need to use reductions in order to sound more natural.
  • You need to know reductions in order to understand conversations between native English speakers.
  • Why should you learn reductions?
  • Reductions are used extensively in American TV, movies, music, literature, and in conversations among native English speakers.
  • American English reductions are usually not taught in English language schools.
English Reductions used in Movies
True

True (1998) the original whassup short film. This is the short film that inspired the classic whazzup Budweiser ads (see video below). Plus interview with the film's creator, Chuck Stone III (Drumline, Uncle Drew).
English Reductions used in TV
Budweiser Beer Commercial

This is an old Budweiser beer commercial (advertisement) with the English language reduction "whassup" used about a bazillion times. lol.
English Reductions used in Music
The Black Eyed Peas - I Gotta Feeling

The Black Eyed Peas using the English language reductions "gonna", "gotta", and "wanna" all in the same song.
Hey Students,

You need to learn reductions. Yes pronunciation is very important but reductions are definitely the next thing you should learn.  The English reductions in the table below are used a lot. PLEASE LEARN REDUCTIONS....REALLY IMPORTANT.
 
Reductions Introduction Video
A Few More Miscellaneous Reductions

A few more English language reductions for you.
Dropping The G in ING
Dropping the G from ING is becoming much more common in American English. These reduced words are often used in TV, movies, music, and in the normal conversation of native English speakers. The words are typically written with a ' in place of the letter g. The final syllable is pronounced as the word in and not as ing. The following are a few of the many examples.
Word Reduction Usage
asking askin' I'm askin' you to show a little consideration.
bragging braggin' She's always braggin' about how much money she earns.
breathing breathin' She was breathin' hard.
buying buyin' I was buyin' her a present.
cooling coolin' Was coolin' off in the yard.
chilling chillin' I'm tired of chillin' at the beach.
crying cryin' He thought she was cryin' about last night.
doing doin' What are you doin' up at this hour?
dressing dressin' It hit her as she was dressin' to go to the party.
drooling droolin' You've seen me naked and droolin' and drugged up.
falling fallin' Hey fallin' in love with you baby.
featuring featurin' The show was featurin' the new model.
feeling feelin' I was feelin' good after drinking that wine.
fooling foolin' Hey no more foolin' around.
fronting frontin' He's unpopular because he's always frontin'.
fucking fuckin' He's a fuckin' psycho man.
going goin' She might be goin' to the party.
hating hatin' She had spent too much time hatin' him.
learning learnin' You are learnin' about them today.
leaving leavin' We're leavin' tomorrow, aren't we?
letting lettin' Lettin' you go was the stupidest thing.
looking lookin' Hey lookin' good girl.
loving lovin' I am lovin' this party.
lying lyin' You're lyin' to the public.
picking pickin' She's pickin' herself up out the dust.
pushing pushin' Hey you better not keep pushin' her.
repairing repairin' You been repairin' this for a month now.
schooling schoolin' His schooling was irregular and not successful.
screaming screamin' No point in wasting energy screaming now.
singing singin' They sat around with guitars singing rock songs.
something somethin' You should do something about the problem.
speaking speakin' Why is she speakin' to you like that.
stepping steppin' This other guy keeps steppin' on my toes.
throwing throwin' He was throwin' in the towel after the eight round.
trying tryin' She keeps tryin' to make up her mind.
waiting waitin' Are you still there, waitin' for me to come to you?
walking walkin' I don't wanna be walkin' in the rain again.
yearning yearnin' I am yearnin' for a night alone with that girl.
yelling yellin' I could listen to them yellin' all night.
Miscellaneous Reductions
The following reductions are a small sample of ways words are typically reduced in English. There are many more but these are a few good examples.
Word Reduction Usage
about 'bout How 'bout going to the party with me tonight?
already ahready Hey she ahready came.
all + right ahright Ahright man I get it.
all + right aight Hey aight, you can keep them.
because 'cause I'm only going 'cause you asked me to.
come + here cumeer You better cumeer man.
come + on cumon Hey cumon, give her a chance.
I'm + going + to imma Hey imma be famous someday.
isn't + it innit Hey this is true innit?
suppose spose I spose we can go.
them 'em You better tell 'em the game is cancelled.
trying to tryna She was tryna talk to you dude.
want + to + be wannabe She is a guitar playing wannabe.
what + is + that wussat Wassat you're listening to?
what + is + up sup Sup? (similar to whassup)
you + all y'all How y'all doing today?
 
Reduction Tips
Audio Program
(Beginner - Listening)

Wanna, Gonna, Hafta: Getting Relaxed With Reduced Forms of Speech - A five minute audio program of the written script below. The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
AA: I'm Avi Arditti with Rosanne Skirble, and this week on Wordmaster: reduced forms in spoken American English.

RS: We're talking about forms like whaddaya -- meaning "what do you," as in "whaddaya say?" "Whaddaya Say?" is also the title of a popular teaching book on reduced forms by Nina Weinstein.

AA: She did extensive research on the subject as a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, and as a teaching fellow at Harvard.

NINA WEINSTEIN: "There were a lot of assumptions. People felt that maybe it was a sort of uneducated kind of speech or maybe it was caused by informality or things like this. So my master's thesis is actually on what causes reduced forms.

"And what I found was speed of speech was statistically significant as a cause for reduced forms, not informality. Though in informal speech we tend to speak more quickly, and so we think it's the informality, but actually it's the speed of speech."

RS: "What do you find? Do you find certain patterns of reductions? Is there a way in which you can almost predict, if you are a speaker of English as a foreign language, that you can almost predict when or how it's going to happen?"

NINA WEINSTEIN: "Yes, yes -- in fact, you can learn the reduced forms before. There are fifty to seventy common reduced forms that everyone should know from a listening point of view. Sometimes, I think, teachers feel that students will just pick this up. And they do pick up some, but they don't pick up all of them."

AA: "Can you give us a few of the most common reduced forms?"

NINA WEINSTEIN: "The three most common reduced forms are wanna, which is the spoken form of 'want to'; gonna, which is the spoken form of 'going to' plus a verb; and hafta, which is the spoken form of 'have to.' And one of these forms will occur about every two minutes."

AA: "On average in a conversation?"

NINA WEINSTEIN: "Yes, in unscripted spoken English."

AA: "That's amazing. And we're talking about common, everyday speech. And yet I could see maybe some students who are learning English who want to maybe apply for a job or meet with an employer or someone, a professor, and maybe they're afraid that they're going to sound uneducated or that they're too informal. What do you say about that?"

NINA WEINSTEIN: "Informality -- informality actually is a very, very large part of American English. And as I tell my students, the majority of English is informal, though we do have situations that call for formality. I don't think that students should worry about their own use of the reduced forms because non-native speakers generally don't reach the speed of speech to have reductions. And so their speech will not reduce naturally.

"I don't advise students unnaturally adapting these forms because, as I said, they're a natural flow of spoken English. But what I do suggest that they do is, if they want to sound more natural, regardless of whether it's an interview situation or just in everyday speech, they could adopt the three most common reduced forms in their speech because these are almost like vocabulary items. They're that common.

"As far as the job interview goes, as I said, I don't think students should adopt the fifty to seventy common reduced forms in their own speech. But they need to understand the interviewer, who will be using reduced forms."

RS: "Now beyond these top three, is there a top ten?"

NINA WEINSTEIN: "I wouldn't say there's a top ten. If I were to just give you some really common ones, one of the more common question forms would be 'what do you/what are you' changing to whaddaya. You can put that together with want to -- 'what do you want to' would be naturally pronounced as whaddaya wanna: 'Whaddaya wanna do?' 'Whaddaya wanna have?' Of course, we talked about gonna, which is 'going to' plus verb.

"We've got gotta, which is 'have got to': 'I've got to do this.' 'I've got to go there.' I think those are common, but I think the ones that are represented in 'Whaddya Say?' are really the most common. And I can't cut it off at ten, because actually in my research I found three hundred and five reduced forms."

A: Nina Weinstein, the author of "Whaddaya Say? Guided Practice in Relaxed Speech," speaking with us from VOA's Los Angeles bureau.

RS: And we gotta go. That's Wordmaster for this week. To learn more about American English, visit our Web site, voanews.com/wordmaster.

AA: And our e-mail address is word@voanews.com. With Rosanne Skirble, I'm Avi Arditti.
 
Audio Program
(Beginner - Listening)

To Master Rhythms of English, You Really Hafta Learn Reductions - A five minute audio program of the written script below. The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
AA: I'm Avi Arditti with Rosanne Skirble, and this week on WORDMASTER: expanding on reductions. When speakers compress a phrase like "going to" into "gonna," or "what do you" into "whaddaya," that's a reduction. We mentioned their importance when we talked last week about the natural rhythms of spoken American English. To explain more, we found a segment we did with Slangman David Burke where he talked about reductions.

DAVID BURKE: "One of them is 'you.' Instead of saying you, we just say ya. Instead of saying `How are you?' [we say] `How are ya?' If I were to say to you 'Didja eat yet?' and you replied `No, didju?' we would understand that. 'Didja eat yet?' Did you eat yet?

"We talked about ya which is a reduction of you, but after the letter d the you or the ya becomes a 'ja' sound always after the letter d. `Would you like to come to the movies?' `Wouldja like to come to the movies?' `Did you eat?' `Didja eat?' And, for some reason after the letter t the ya becomes 'cha' -- `I'll let you come with me.' `I'll letcha come with me.' `What's that you have in your hand?' `Whatcha have in your hand?' So, we have about four different ways of saying `you' which is 'ya,' 'ja,' 'cha' and even 'ju.'"

AA: "This is spoken English, right? Now if you were writing a report or something for work, you would want to be more careful about using the formal non-reduced forms."

DAVID BURKE: "Absolutely. But, I would have to say yes and no, because reductions are used typically in speaking; however, a lot of times when we are writing to friends or especially in comic books we'll see the reduced form.

"True, in a formal report, you do not want to use reductions, but when we are writing a letter to somebody we might say in the beginning of the letter `How are ya?' and spell y-a for ya. That's pretty common."

AA: "Also on the most-often-heard reduction list are the reduced forms of going to and want to. They become gonna, g-o-n-n-a, and wanna, w-a-n-n-a."

RS: "As in 'I'm gonna be late,' or 'Do you wanna go with me?'"

DAVID BURKE: "And what's a little bit difficult to understand about `gonna' [is that] `gonna' is the reduction of `going to' only when it is something that is happening in the future.

"But when it indicates going from one place to another you cannot reduce it. For example, `I'm going to the movies tonight.' You can't say `I'm gonna the movies tonight.' Or `Are you going to the market?' You can't say 'Are you gonna the market?' So, it's only used to indicate the future, and it's really popular."

AA: "Sometimes, when reduction takes place, two different words are reduced to the same sound."

RS: "That happens with 'and' and 'in'."

DAVID BURKE: "'And' is pronounced 'n': `Rosanne n Avi.' The word `in' -- 'Let's go inside' -- it's pronounced absolutely the same. `Put the pencil 'n' the box.' It sounds like `Put the pencil and the box.'"

AA: "So someone coming to this country who is not used to the fast-speaking ways of your average American is going to be confused by these `wannas, gonnas -- "

RS: "Can't ya, don'tcha."

DAVID BURKE: "Absolutely. In fact just now you said a very common reduction, `used to' - `usta' means to be accustomed to, to be acclimated to. I'm usta getting up early. He usta be my best friend. We would never say `used to.'"

RS: "The question I have for you is that given the fact that Americans speak with reductions, how do people who speak English as a foreign language learn to tell the difference? How do they learn these reductions?"

DAVID BURKE: "The only way they can learn is to live in this country, and of course when they arrive they will be absolutely shocked and all of a sudden someone comes up and says, `How do ya do?' not `How do you do?' They are stunned."

AA: Slangman David Burke, talking about reductions in a segment from two thousand. You can learn about his language teaching materials at slangman.com. And that's WORDMASTER for this week. Archives are at voanews.com/wordmaster. And our e-mail is word@voanews.com. With Rosanne Skirble, I'm Avi Arditti.

MUSIC: "Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy?" / Chris LeDoux/Garth Brooks
 
Reduced Forms

Broadcast on "Coast to Coast": January 16, 2003

AA: I'm Avi Arditti with Rosanne Skirble and this week on Wordmaster, English teacher Lida Baker explains some of the shortcuts that work their way into conversational American speech.

RS: They're called reduced forms, or reductions. And, since it was noon when we spoke to Lida, she served up the perfect lunchtime example:

BAKER: "So tell me, jeet yet?"

RS: "No we haven't eaten yet (laughter)."

BAKER: "See, you understood what I said, 'jeet.' Now if we were to pronounce that the way it's written, we would say 'did you eat yet?' But in rapid, spoken English, the 'did you' gets reduced. Do you see how the nature of the consonants changes, it's not 'did you,' it's 'juh' Let's suppose that you had already eaten lunch, so I could ask you 'hoodjeet with with?'"

RS: "Who did you eat with?"

BAKER: "That's right. Whadja eet?"

RS: "'What did you eat?' to translate."

BAKER: "Right. The reductions occur in words that are not stressed. So going back over those three examples, which admittedly are rather extreme -- and we'll go back and look at a few cases that are less extreme -- notice that it's the auxiliary verb, which is 'did,' and the pronoun 'you' gets reduced, and the word 'eat,' which is the verb in this sentence, is the stressed word. The word 'yet' is unstressed; it's an adverb. So it comes out 'jeet yet?'

Now let me give you some examples of reductions that occur frequently, or even all the time. One example would be the preposition 'to,' which we normally in spoken language pronounce 'ta,' 'I hafta go,' 'I hafta,' right? Haf-ta. It's not 'to.' Same thing with the word 'you.' How does that get reduced?"

RS: "Ya."

BAKER: "That's right, it becomes 'ya.' So instead of 'how are you doing,' we say 'how ya doin'?"

AA: "You drop the g on doing."

BAKER: "We drop the g. So that would be -- remember, there are two changes that occur in pronunciation when forms are reduced. One is that consonants change or disappear, and other one is that there's a change in the vowel quality. So 'how ya doin',' the word 'are' disappeared all together, the 'you' changed to 'ya' and on the word 'doing' the g dropped."

RS: "It would sound really strange if I would say in casual conversation, 'how are you doing?'"

AA: "Unless you're talking to someone who's hard of hearing or you know doesn't understand the language very well."

BAKER: "Yeah, it would be very unnatural. Think of other forms like 'gotta.' 'I gotta go.' We don't say 'I have got to go.' The word 'have' drops, 'got to' becomes 'gotta.' Notice 'got to,' when we pronounce them together, the 't' in American English changes to a ‘d.’ So there's a example of where, as I said before, consonant quality changes."

RS: "And we see this with 'going to,' 'I'm gonna go.'"

BAKER: "And very interesting, because most of my students, even at a low intermediate level, are familiar with 'gonna.' They've heard it so many times in movies and in songs and so on, so much so that I'll receive essays where the students have written g-o-n-n-a. But what I'm teaching people is academic English, and so I have to teach them that it's not OK to write reduced forms. It's OK to say them, but you shouldn't write them."

AA: "So is any of this related to social class or to education?"

BAKER: "I think the use of reduced forms is tied more to the situation. You'll find that when people are talking with their friends in a more casual situation, where we're feeling more relaxed, we tend to use more reduced forms -- because, one of the reasons that we do reduce forms, that we do have so many reductions in our speech, is that it's just much easier to pronounce words. Whenever we pronounce consonants, the mouth has to be in a certain position, and to move from one position to another requires a certain amount of muscular effort."

RS: Lida Baker teaches at the American Language Center of the University of California at Los Angeles. She also writes textbooks for English learners.

AA: You'll find our previous Wordmaster segments with Lida on our Web site, voanews.com/wordmaster. And our e-mail address is word@voanews.com. Or write us at VOA Wordmaster, Washington DC 20237 USA. With Rosanne Skirble, I'm Avi Arditti.

MUSIC: "What You Gonna Do"/The Jeanette Williams Band
 
Pronunciation Tips
Are You How You Talk?
(Beginner - Listening, reading)

A video lesson to help with your understanding of American dialects.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Click here to visit the lesson page.
Are You How You Talk?
(Beginner - Listening)

An audio lesson to help with your understanding of American dialects. The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed. Click here to visit the lesson page with the written script for this audio program.
Improve Your Pronunciation by Training Your Ears
(Beginner - Listening)

An audio lesson to help with your pronunciation and English language reductions. The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed. Great English pronunciation tips. Click here to visit the lesson page with the written script for this audio program.