English Conversation Study: Introducing Tom and HaQuyen – American English

You asked for it. So in this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to do a Ben Franklin exercise where we take real American English conversation and analyze the American accent to improve listening comprehension and pronunciation skills. First, let’s listen to the whole conversation. R: HaQuyen, this is Tom. HQ: Hi. T: Hi. HQ: Nice to meet you. T: How are you? T: Nice to meet you, too. R: Have you guys met before? HQ: Um… T: I don’t think so. HQ: No, not, not in person.

But you’ve told me about him. R: Okay. It seems like you have because I’ve known both of you for so long, but … T: Yeah. R: Never overlapped. T: Yeah, well, it’s about time! Now for the analysis. R: HaQuyen, this is Tom. Did you notice how the second syllable of ‘HaQuyen’ and the syllable ‘Tom’ were the most stressed? They had that up-down shape.

Especially ‘Tom’, which came down in pitch at the end of the sentence. R: HaQuyen, this is Tom. We want this shape in our stressed syllables. The two words ‘this is’ were flatter and quicker. R: HaQuyen, this is Tom. [2x] HQ: Hi. T: Hi: Both words, ‘hi’, ‘hi’, ‘hi’, had that up-down shape. Hi. Hi. HQ: Hi. T: Hi. [3x] HQ: Nice to meet you. These two phrases happened at the same time. HaQuyen said, “Nice to meet you.” What’s the most stressed word there? HQ: Nice to meet you. [2x] ‘Meet’. ‘Nice’ also had some stress, a little longer.

Nice to meet you. The word ‘to’ was reduced. Rather than the OO vowel, we have the schwa. Nice to, to, to. HQ: Nice to meet you. [2x] Nice to meet you. What did you notice about the pronunciation of this T? HQ: Nice to meet you. [2x] It was a Stop T. Meet you. There was no release of the T sound. HQ: Nice to meet you. [2x] Tom’s phrase, “How are you?” How are you? T: How are you? [2x] He stressed the word ‘are’. How are you? T: How are you? [2x] You’ll also hear this with the word ‘you’ stressed. How are you? T: How are you? Nice to meet you, too. Tom really stressed the word ‘too’. T: Nice to meet you, too. [2x] It was the loudest and clearest of the sentence. T: Nice to meet you, too. [2x] He, like HaQuyen, also reduced the word ‘to’ to the schwa. To, nice to, nice to meet you. T: Nice to meet you, too.

[2x] Also, again like HaQuyen, he made a Stop T here. He did not release the T sound. Meet you. T: Nice to meet you, too. [2x] R: Have you guys met before? I put a little break here, between ‘guys’ and ‘met’, while I thought about what I was going to say. R: Have you guys met before? Did you notice my pronunciation of T? A Stop T. R: Met before? We tend to make T’s Stop T’s when the next word begins with a consonant. Or, when the word is at the end of a thought or sentence.

R: Met before? [2x] R: Have you guys met before? What do you notice about the intonation of the sentence? How does it end? R: Have you guys met before? Before? It goes up in pitch. R: Have you guys met before? That’s because this is a yes/no question. A question that can be answered with yes or no goes up in pitch at the end. Other questions, and statements, go down in pitch. T: I don’t think so. I don’t think so, I don’t think so. Again, there was a clear stop in sound here. I don’t think so. T: I don’t thinks so. [2x] I don’t think so. The words were not connected. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t think. I don’t think so. ‘Think’ was the most stressed word there.

I don’t think so. Feel your energy to towards it and then away from it in the sentence. I don’t think so. T: I don’t think so. HQ: No, not, not in person. The first ‘not’ was a Stop T, as HaQuyen did not continue. Not, not. Not in person. The second T, though, was a Flap T because it links two vowels together. The AH vowel, and the IH as in SIT vowel. Most Americans will make the T between vowels a Flap T, which sounds like a D between vowels. Not in [3x]. Not in person. HQ: Not in person. [2x] ‘Person’ is a two-syllable word. Which syllable is stressed? HQ: Not in person [2x]. The first syllable. PER-son. The second syllable doesn’t really have a vowel in it. It’s the schwa sound. But when the schwa is followed by N, you don’t need to try to make a separate vowel, -son, -son, person, person. HQ: Not in person [2x], but you’ve told me about him. How is the T pronounced in ‘but’? HQ: But you’ve told me about him.

[2x] It’s a Stop T, but you’ve, but you’ve. What’s the most stressed, the most clear word in this phrase? HQ: But you’ve told me about him. [2x] It’s the verb ‘told’. But you’ve told me about him. The sentence peaks with that word. HQ: But you’ve told me about him. [2x] HaQuyen dropped the H in ‘him’. We do this often with the words ‘him’, ‘he’, ‘his’, ‘her’, for example. Also, ‘have’ and ‘had’. HQ: But you’ve told me about him.

[2x] Now the T comes between two vowels. What’s that going to be? A Flap T. About him, about him. Just flap the tongue on the roof of the mouth. HQ: But you’ve told me about him. [2x] R: Okay. I didn’t really pronounce the OH diphthong here, it was more like a schwa, okay, okay. ‘-Kay’ had the shape of a stressed syllable. Okay. R: Okay. [2x] It seems like you have… In the first part of this sentence, what is the most clear, the most stressed syllable? R: It seems like you have [2x] It’s the word ‘seems’. It seems like you have [2x]. R: It seems like you have [2x] because I’ve known both of you for so long, but. What about in the second half of the sentence. What’s the most stressed syllable? R: because I’ve known both of you for so long, but.

[2x] Known. Because I’ve known both of you for so long. ‘Long’ is also stressed, it’s also a longer word. R: because I’ve known both of you for so long, but. [2x] Even though this sentence is very fast, it still has longer stressed words, ‘seems’, ‘known’, ‘long’. It’s important to keep your stressed words longer, even when you’re speaking quickly. This is what’s clear to Americans. R: because I’ve known both of you for so long, but. [2x] The less important words, the function words, will be less clear and very fast. And sometimes, we’ll change the sounds. For example, in the word ‘for’. That was pronounced with the schwa, for, for, for.

It’s very fast. R: For so long [2x], but. How did I pronounce the T in ‘but’? R: For so long, but. [2x] It was the end of my thought, it was a Stop T. But, but. I stopped the air. R: For so long, but. [2x] T: Yeah. Tom’s interjection, ‘yeah’: stressed. Up-down shape. Yeah, yeah, yeah. T: Yeah. [2x] R: Never overlapped. Can you tell which is the stressed syllable in ‘never’? Which is longer? R: Never overlapped.

[2x] It’s the first syllable. Ne-ver. What about in the next word? R: Never overlapped. [2x] Again, it’s the first syllable. O-verlapped. Never overlapped. Uh-uh. Never overlapped. R: Never overlapped. [2x] Notice the –ed ending here is pronounced as a T, an unvoiced sound. That’s because the sound before, P, was also unvoiced. Overlapped, overlapped. R: Never overlapped. [2x] T: Yeah, well, it’s about time. Did you notice that Tom didn’t really make a vowel here. Tsabout, tsabout. He connected the TS sound into the next sound. T: Well, it’s about time. [2x] How is this T pronounced? T: Well, it’s about time. [2x] A Stop T, because the next sound is a consonant. T: Well, it’s about time. Let’s listen again, following along with our marked up text. You’ll hear two different speeds, regular pace, and slowed down. R: HaQuyen, this is Tom. HQ: Hi. T: Hi. HQ: Nice to meet you. T: How are you? T: Nice to meet you, too. R: Have you guys met before? HQ: Um… T: I don’t think so. HQ: No, not, not in person. But you’ve told me about him.

R: Okay. It seems like you have because I’ve known both of you for so long, but … T: Yeah. R: Never overlapped. T: Yeah, well, it’s about time! R: HaQuyen, this is Tom. HQ: Hi. T: Hi. HQ: Nice to meet you. T: How are you? T: Nice to meet you, too. R: Have you guys met before? HQ: Um… T: I don’t think so. HQ: No, not, not in person. But you’ve told me about him. R: Okay. It seems like you have because I’ve known both of you for so long, but … T: Yeah. R: Never overlapped. T: Yeah, well, it’s about time! We’ll listen one last time. This time, you’ll repeat.

You’ll hear each sentence or sentence fragment three times. Repeat exactly as you hear it, paying attention to intonation, sounds, and stress. R: HaQuyen, this is Tom. [3x] HQ: Hi. T: Hi. [3x] HQ: Nice to meet you. T: How are you? [3x] T: Nice to meet you, too. [3x] R: Have you guys met before? [3x] HQ: Um… T: I don’t think so. [3x] HQ: No, not, not in person.

[3x] But you’ve told me about him. [3x] R: Okay. [3x] It seems like you have [3x] because I’ve known both of you [3x] for so long, but … [3x] T: Yeah. [3x] R: Never overlapped. [3x] T: Yeah, well, it’s about time! [3x] Now the conversation, one more time. R: HaQuyen, this is Tom. HQ: Hi. T: Hi.

HQ: Nice to meet you. T: How are you? T: Nice to meet you, too. R: Have you guys met before? HQ: Um… T: I don’t think so. HQ: No, not, not in person. But you’ve told me about him. R: Okay. It seems like you have because I’ve known both of you for so long, but … T: Yeah. R: Never overlapped. T: Yeah, well, it’s about time! Great job. If you liked this video, be sure to sign up for my mailing list for a free weekly newsletter with pronunciation videos sent straight to your inbox.

Also, I’m happy to tell you my book American English Pronunciation is available for purchase. If you want an organized, step-by-step resource to build your American accent, click here to get the book, or see the description below. I think you’re going to love it. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English..

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