Stress and Reductions and Example 1

Stress + Reduced Syllables

We have talked about stressed syllables before. We can imagine that they are 100% whole and complete. Remember that stress means: louder, longer, higher, clearer, and bigger 😁

a basket of vegetables
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Reduction is the opposite of stress in English.

Reduction, or reduced syllables are:

  • Quicker: they are not as long, and you might delete some of the sounds.
  • Less clear: the vowels might change to “uh” /ə/
  • Quieter: they are not as loud
  • Normal pitch: they are not musical, high or low
  • Smaller: speakers’ mouths do not open or move as much
a pot of chopped vegetables
Photo by Rio Lecatompessy on Unsplash

You can imagine that they are chopped up. Reduced stress makes it easier to put things together in spoken English, once you learn how.

This can help you with understanding other speakers, too. For example:

  1. I just want to have some peace and quiet around here.
  2. Sorry, but I didn’t hear that.
  3. How is it going?

Example 1: And

In normal American English, the word “and” usually reduces to “an” with a schwa sound: /ən/

Here are some common phrases and idioms. Can you practice reducing “and”?

A. Reducing and

  1. peace and quiet
  2. rock and roll
  3. bread and butter
  4. pride and joy
  5. death and taxes
  6. fair and square
  7. by and large
  8. smoke and mirrors
  9. blood, sweat and tears
  10. it cost an arm and a leg


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Green Tea Intermediate English Communication OER Copyright © 2020 by Eric Dodson; Luciana Diniz; and Nanci Leiton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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