How to Understand Native Speakers


Hi. Welcome back to I'm Adam.

Today's lesson is a little bit tricky

because I want to help you understand native speakers. I want you to understand how they speak. So,

for example, if you hear somebody say:

"What did you do that for?"

You should be able to understand what the person said. Now, whether you understood what I just said or not,

not important yet; we're going to get to that. So "Native Speaker Pronunciation".

Now, before I get into this lesson, I want you to understand: I don't want to teach you

how to speak like this. Okay? I don't want you to speak like this. I want you to speak

good, clear, strong English, just like I'm speaking to you now. But I also want you to

understand that when I am with my Canadian friends, for example, I speak a little bit

more like this. It's just natural, it's habit. It's not a good habit, but it's habit. Okay?

Now, I had a few comments on, quite a few people asking me: Why do I understand

you? Like why do you understand me, Adam, but when I watch a TV show or when I watch

a movie, I don't know what they're saying? Why? Why such a big difference? Well, first

of all, let me say that I am speaking to you, knowing what you can and cannot understand,

for the most part. So I don't speak to you like I... Like I would with my Canadian friends

who are native English speakers. I don't speak to you like Hollywood actors speak on the

movie. Okay? I'm speaking to an audience. I know that they need to listen to me, that

you need to understand everything I say, so I enunciate, I speak very clearly. I stress

each syllable so that you can catch every word I say. But I'm going to talk about when

and where to speak like this in a minute.

So, I did actually do a lesson about how to speak like a native speaker before. You can

learn how to make elisions, how to connect sounds, how to... When you have two sounds

that are the same, to drop one of them. This is a little bit different. We're going to

look at dropped sounds inside words.

Now, these words, for example:

"listen", no "t";

"plumber", no "b";

"dumb", no "b".

These words are not dropped sounds words. These are just the way these words are constructed;

we are supposed to make the "t" silent, we are supposed to make the "b" silent. That's

just how the word is built.

But native speakers, native English speakers... And I'm sure this is the same in your native

language if you pay attention carefully to how you speak and how your friends speak,

we like to take shortcuts. Okay? We don't like too many syllables. We like to have fewer

and fewer syllables to make the speech go faster. We don't want to think too much about

what we're saying.

So, for example, here are a few words. Now, I'm looking at consonant clusters.

Does everybody remember what a consonant is? B, c, d, f, g, etc.

Vowels: a, e, i, o, u.

All the other letters, consonants.

So when we have consonant clusters, these are groups when you have consonants

bunched together; you have a few of them together. When we have words with this situation, we

tend to drop one, maybe two of those consonants.

So, for example, the word "probably". Pro-bab-ly, pro-bab-ly-.

I have three syllables in this word,

but when I'm speaking in natural speed, I say: "Probly".

-"Are you coming to the party tomorrow night?" -"Yeah, probly."

Now you're watching me on a TV or you're watching me

in a movie, and you're thinking: -"What?" -"Probly." -"What?" -"Probly." Okay? All I'm

saying is "probably", but what I'm doing, because I have "b, b, l", I have a little

cluster of consonant sounds, I'll just drop this one; I don't need it. You'll understand

me without it, right? I think with another native speaker. "Probly". "Good bye", even

two consonants, ah, too much. "Gobye. Gobye". I barely even say the o's, I just say like:

"Gobye". Okay?

"Old friend". Now, in the other video, I told you if the letters... The very last letter

and the first letter are the same, you can drop one, but we do it anyway, even if they're

not the same.

"I have an ol' friend. Ol' friend who I met for dinner last night.

Oh, I met an ol' friend from high school."

Okay? We just drop 'em. Why? Because we can, because

we know that we will be understood. "L, d, f, r" - too many. Too many consonants. I don't

need so many. Drop at least one. Right? Get it out of the way. It makes it quicker.

The word "What". Now, if you're listening to native speakers, hardly anybody actually

pronounces the "t". "Wha did you do last night? Wha did. Wha did. Whasup? Whasup?"

You've seen movies, like: "Sup?" Sometimes they don't even say the "Wha"; they just say: "Sup? Sup?"

So we always drop the "t" because we just don't need it. Okay? You'll hear a lot of

these examples in movies, in TV shows, etc.

So, I come up to my boss and I said:

"I made a mistake with the report. I sent it to the wrong place."

He goes: "Oh, you shunda done that. Shunda done that. Shun-da done that."

What does that mean? Now, before I actually tell you... Before I open it up and show you

what this means, can you guess what it means? "You shunda done that." Think about the context.

I made a mistake. I sent the report to the wrong place. So my boss is very angry, and he goes:

"Oh, very bad. You should not have done... Oh, you should not have done that."

I will feel like a little child, he will be even more angry because he had to say more syllables.

"You shunda done that. No, you shunda done that."

Okay? But I will understand

this. You also need to understand it. But again, it's the context. He's angry. I did

something bad that I should not have done. Okay? Now, that's not enough. That's not all.

Context is not all. You have the "shun" and "done that", these are clear enough, you should

be able to just fill in the rest because the context: "You should not have done that."

Now, "Doesn't do", "doesn't give", "doesn't have". "Doen't do. Oh, he doen't do that."

We don't bother with the "s". Woop, sorry, wrong place. We just don't bother with the

"s". It's an extra step, an extra syllable that we just don't need. "S, n, t" - too much.

"Doen't do", "Doen't give". Now, here, we also drop the "h": "doen't ave". Don't have.

That's why Americans say: "Oh, he don't got." Even though it's bad grammar, they just got

so used to dropping things that they just use bad grammar all the time naturally. Not

all Americans. I apologize if I offend anyone, but it does happen. "I ain't got nothing."

That's bad English, but it happens.

"H's" are quite often dropped, because "h" is a very soft sound; it gets lost in the

flow of the speech. If you ever listen to French people, they don't really pronounce

the "h", because it's a very soft sound. So in English, it's actually quite... Quite often dropped.

"What's his name? Watsis name? Watser name? Watser: What is her?" We keep the "ts"

and make it "ts", we drop the h and we put it all together. "Watsis name? Watser name?"

Okay? "H's", you will very often miss an "h" when you're listening to native English speakers

because it's a soft sound that gets lost in the flow.

I think a lot of you are aware that the "g" in an "ing" word is quite often dropped.

Not many people will say: "I love singing. Singing." They'll say: "Oh, I love singin'. I love dancin'.

What's happenin'?" We always drop the "g". And sometimes: "What's hapnin'?" We sometimes...

We even drop the vowels in between because it's just too busy; we don't need it. You

understand what I'm saying, that's what's important. Okay?

Sometimes we even drop the initial vowel. So, here:

"'Scuse me? 'Scuse me, can I ask you a question? 'Scuse me?"

I should say: "Excuse me?" but I have a "k", an "s", a "k"

- too many. Too many consonants, there. I'll just drop this one. And I figure, well you

know I'm not going to go from "e" to "s", I already dropped the "k", I may as well just

drop the "e", too. "'Scuse me? 'Scuse me?" Okay? Very common way to say "excuse".

-"Do you need some help?" -"No, it's okay. Ah, 'tsokay. It's okay." I don't need this "i".

It's troublesome. "'Tsokay is enough." You understand it, or another native speaker will

understand it.

Now, what is the moral of this story? What am I trying to tell you? To practice this?

No. I don't want you to practice this. This is basically everyday street language.

Even native speakers are aware that they shouldn't do this in certain con-... In certain contexts,

in certain situations. If you're going to a job interview, don't speak like this. A

native speaker will not speak like this in a job interview. He or she will enunciate.

This is actually... You don't need to know this word, but I'll write it anyway.

"Enunciate" means stress every... Enunciate. Stress every syllable. Okay? En-un-ci-ate. So, it's okay.

Thank you. Okay. I'm not going to say: "Good bye", I'm going to say: "Gobye".

I'm going to say each consonant, I'm going to say each vowel because that is more formal, that is

more correct English. With my friends, very informal situation, I'll speak like this.

With colleagues, with bosses, with parents, etc., I will speak good, clean, strong English,

just as you should.

So, now, what is the point of this? Am I telling you to just ignore it? No. You can't ignore

it. You want to watch Hollywood movies, you want to watch TV shows. Well, that's where

you're going to learn, that's where you're going to practice these sounds by watching

these movies and hopefully, if you can find transcripts, you can find out exactly what

they're saying, and then listen again to how they're saying it. Or, again, use the context,

use the situation. What should they be saying in this situation? That is probably what they

are saying, but they squeezed it. You have to open it up.

Now, another very good way to practice these is listen to English songs, as long as you

can follow the lyrics. Because English songs cut sounds all the time. Why? Because it fits

the melody, it fits the rhyme. Sometimes one... One word doesn't rhyme with the other word

because of one extra letter: "Ah, I'll just drop it." You don't need it. As long as it

rhymes. Songs are a very good way to listen for this sort of stuff. Listen to TV shows

and movies with transcripts or subtitles or captions, or whatever you need. Do dictation.

Okay? Write things down, and try to figure out. Look at a situation, what is going on.

What is the person meaning? What does he want to say? What does she intend to say?

And figure it all out.

Now, I wish I could give you a quiz on this, but you actually have to hear this stuff,

and we don't really do sound quizzes, so there's no quiz for this video. But feel free to

ask me questions in the comment box under the video on

And if you have any specific...

Any specific things you heard that you want me to maybe explain to you,

by all means, ask me; I'll be more than happy to.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel,

and come back again, and we'll see you soon. Bye.