ˈwɒts ðə ˈdɪfrəns | bɪˈtwiːn ə ˈkæt ən ə ˈkɒmə
ˈwʌn ˈhæz ˈklɔːz | ət ði ˈend əv ɪts ˈpɔːz | ˈwaɪl ði ˈʌðəz ə ˈpɔːz | ət ði ˈend əv ə ˈklɔːz
Key at bottom of page.
what’s: When unstressed, as it usually is, the word is can have three different pronunciations, depending on the final sound of the immediately preceding word:
- When the final sound of the preceding word is /s z ʃ ʒ ʧ ʤ/, then is has the form /ɪz/, e.g. Chris is well /ˈkrɪs ɪz ˈwel/.
- When the final sound of the preceding word is a voiceless consonants (excluding the consonants listed above), then is has the form /s/ and forms a contraction with the preceding word, e.g. Jack is well /ˈʤæks ˈwel/.
- If the final sound of the preceding word is voiced (i.e. a vowel or a voiced consonant (excluding the consonants listed above)), then is has the form /z/ and forms a contraction with the preceding word, e.g. John is well /ˈʤɒnz ˈwel/.
This is the same pattern as with possessive s, plural s and the third person singular s.
the: When unstressed, as it usually is, the definite article the has the weak form /ðə/ when the following word begins with a consonant.
difference: When schwa /ə/ is followed by /r/ and then an unstressed syllable, the schwa /ə/ is often elided. Memory /ˈmeməri/ becomes /ˈmemri/, separate (adj.) /ˈsepərət/ becomes /ˈseprət/, etc. In the case of difference, the word is so common that for most people /ˈdɪfrəns/ is probably the form they have in their mental lexicon and the form /ˈdɪfrəns/, if they occasionally use it, is caused by the influence of the spelling.
between: When a word begins with the unstressed prefix be-, it can be pronounced /bɪ/, /bə/ or /bi/. When dictionaries such as the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.) give these three alternatives, it isn’t made clear that the third variant is much less common than the first two variants in General British.
a: When unstressed, as it usually is, the indefinite article a has the weak form /ə/.
and: When unstressed, as it usually is, and has the weak form /ən/ or /ənd/. Some books say that /ən/ is used before consonants and /ənd/ before vowels, but this is not true. While both forms can be heard before consonants and vowels, /ən/ is much more common than /ənd/. Learners can safely use only /ən/ for the weak form of and because it will never be wrong to do so.
claws: Plural s has three pronunciations depending on the sound at the end of the noun:
- /ɪz/ after /s z ʃ ʒ ʧ ʤ/
- /s/ after the remaining voiceless consonants
- /z/ after vowels and the remaining voiced consonants.
The same pattern applies to third person singular s, possessive s and the contraction of is.
at: When unstressed, as it usually is, at has the weak form /ət/.
the: The symbol i represents the same vowel phoneme as the symbol iː. We use i in unstressed syllables and iː 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).
of: When unstressed, as it usually is, of has the weak form /əv/. When a consonant immediately follows in the next word, of can have the form /ə/. This is particularly common before /ð/ (e.g. of the, of those, of them, of this, of that) and in high-frequency phrases (e.g. a cup of tea, a bunch of grapes).
paws: See claws above.
other’s: See what’s above.
What’s the difference between a cat and a comma.One has claws at the end of its paws, while the other’s a pause at the end of a clause.