Key at bottom of page.
a: When unstressed, as it usually is, the indefinite article a has the weak form /ə/.
word you: When a word ends with /d/ and the immediately following word begins with /j/, the /d/ and the /j/ can combine to form /ʤ/. This is known as coalescent assimilation. It is most common with the high-frequency words you and your, especially when they occur with grammatical inversion, e.g. could you /ˈkʊʤu/, would you /ˈwʊʤu/, did your /ˈdɪʤɔː/, etc.
The symbol u represents the same vowel phoneme as the symbol uː. We use u in unstressed syllables and uː in stressed syllables. This distinction isn't very helpful for TEFL purposes and learners should simply treat the two symbols as the same. Because we are using two different symbols for one phoneme, this means our transcription isn't truly phonemic (phonemic transcription = one symbol for each phoneme).
use: Note that the verb use /juːz/ has a different pronunciation from the noun use /juːs/.
when: In all its various uses when is usually stressed and has no weak form.
can’t: Although function/grammatical words are generally unstressed in English, negative contractions such as can’t (and don’t, won’t, can’t shouldn’t, etc.) are usually stressed.
the: When unstressed, as it usually is, the definite article the has the weak form /ðə/ when the following word begins with a consonant.
first: When /t/ is at the end of a word (more specifically, in a syllable coda) and is immediately preceded by a consonant (except /l/ and /n/), it is commonly elided/deleted when another consonant immediately follows (i.e. without a pause) in another word or in a suffix.
of: When a preposition is grammatically stranded, i.e. it doesn’t appear directly before the noun phrase it relates to, it is stressed and appears in its strong form. This is most common:
- In relative clauses, e.g. the man that I looked at /ðə ˈmæn ðət aɪ ˈlʊkt ˈæt/, the team that I played for /ðə ˈtiːm ðət aɪ ˈpleɪd ˈfɔː/
- In wh-questions, e.g. Who did you run to? /ˈhuː dɪd ju ˈrʌn ˈtuː/, What did you dream of? /ˈwɒt dɪd ju ˈdriːm ˈɒv/
- In passive sentences, e.g. They were laughed at. /ðeɪ wə ˈlɑːft ˈæt/, I was turned to. /aɪ wəz ˈtɜːnd ˈtuː/
A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the word you first thought of.