Unit 35. She was First.
Pronouncing the Verb Be
|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: 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.)
|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.
Note: After a pronoun am, is and are are usually written as a contraction ('m, 's, 're). (See Unit 34.)
|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.
|The verb be is normally unstressed at the start of a sentence too. Listen to this chant.
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?
Important 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: 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.)
|Circle the word are if you think the /r/ is pronounced. Then listen, check and repeat.
|Tick 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
|Listen 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
|Listen 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.
||Unit 34 Unit 35 Unit 36||