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Unit 35. She was First.

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Pronouncing the Verb Be

Unit 35; Part A

You don't normally put stress on are in the middle of a sentence. Listen to this rhyme.

Roses are red,
Violets ate blue,
Flowers are nice,
And so are you!


note.jpgNote: Many speakers pronounce are just as the weak vowel sound /∂/, but if the following word begins with a vowel sound, the /r/ is pronounced too, for example People are angry. (See Unit 39.)

Unit 35; Part B

The word is (and 's) is not usually spoken as a separate syllable; it is usually joined to the syllable before, for example Snow is / 's white. But if the word before ends with letters like S, CE, GE and CH, it is a new syllable, for example Grass is green. (See Unit 24. ) Listen to the examples.
is and 's - not a separate syllable
is and 's - a separate syllable  
Snow is white.
Your hair is dirty.
The road is closed.
The clock is broken. 
Grass is green.
Your face is dirty.
The bridge is closed.
My watch is broken.

note.jpgNote: After a pronoun am, is and are are usually written as a contraction ('m, 's, 're). (See Unit 34.

Unit 35; Part C

In the middle of a sentence, was and were are also usually unstressed. Listen to the chant.

She was first.
You were last.
            It was hard.
            She was fast.
You were slow.
She was strong.
            I was tired.
            It was long.
 
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Unit 35; Part D

The verb be is normally unstressed at the start of a sentence too. Listen to this chant.
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Am I right? Am I wrong?
Is it short? Is it long?
Are you hot? Are you cold?
Were young? Were they old?
Is it false? Is it true?
Was it me? Was it you?

 
idea.jpgImportant for listening!
Note that the vowel is very weak in fast speech (see Unit 7 , which looks at weak vowels).
am = /∂m/;   is = /iz/;    are = /∂/;   were = /w∂/; was = /w∂z/
You don't need to copy the fast speech pronunciation. People will understand you if you use careful speech. But you need to be able to understand fast speech.
 

note.jpgNote: The verb be is stressed in negative contractions (e.g. aren't), and at the end of sentences (e.g. Yes, I am). (See Unit 36.)
Note: The verb be is also stressed for emphasis or contrast, for example:
That can't be John ... Wait a minute... It is John! (See Unit 49.)

 



Exercises

flag.jpgCircle the word are if you think the /r/ is pronounced. Then listen, check and repeat.
Key.35.4.jpg 
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flag.jpgTick the sentences where is is always a separate syllable. Then listen, check and repeat.
Key.1 a    3 a    5 b      7a
2 b    4b    6 b      

Example:
      a Lunch is ready!
1    a The house is cold.
2    a The taxi is here.
3    a The beach is crowded.
4    a The steak is good.
5    a The meaning is clear.
6    a The smell is awful!
7    a Juice is good foe you.
b Dinner is ready!
b The room is cold.
b The bus is here.
b The park is crowded.
b The fish is good.
b The message is clear.
b The noise is awful!
b Fruit is good for you.
flag.jpgListen and circle the verb you hear.
Key. 1 are    3 was    5 are    7 was    9 are
2 was   4 were     6 are    8 is    10 were
1    People are / were angry.
2    Alice is / was here.
3    Your face is / was dirty.
4    The birds are / were singing.
5    The books are / were cheap.     
6    The fish are / were dying.
7    The place is / was nice.
8    Paris is / was nice.
9    The children are / were tired.
10  My friends are / were coming.
flag.jpgListen and fill the gaps with one word.
Key.1 are    3 is    5 was    7 was    9 was
2 were   4 are    6 was    8 are    10 are

Example:    That  was  my favourite.
1    His parents _______ rich.
2    The birds _______ singing.
3    The beach _______ crowded.
4    The children _______ at home.
5    He _______ going out at the weekend.
6    Her dog _______ called Kip.
7    This car _______ very expensive.
8    The drinks _______ free on this flight.
9    The weather _______ terrible.
10  The banks _______ closed on Saturday.
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