Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda pronunciation


Have you ever heard someone say shoulda? “Oh yeah, I shoulda done that!”

What’s it mean? In this American English pronunciation video, youre going to learn

about shoulda, woulda, coulda.

Shouldais a reduction ofshould have’. I made a video years ago about dropping

the H in words likehave’ – we do it all the time in spoken American English. But

inshoulda’, were going a lot further than just dropping the H. Were reducing

the AA vowel to the schwa, and were dropping the V sound. All were left with is the

schwa, uh, uh. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Note that the L is silent in these words, and they

all have the UH vowel, as inbook’, where the lips flare a little and there’s some

tension in the back of the tongue as it lifts a bit. Uh, should, uh, would, uh, could.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

Let’s look at some sentences. I shoulda been there.

You coulda been hurt! I shoulda seen it coming.

I woulda been there. We coulda tried harder.

I woulda thought so.

Sometimes I pronounce these words like this, all the way reduced, and sometimes I make

a light V sound, vv, vv, vv. There’s no reason why I do it one way or another, I just

know that I do, and youll probably hear it both ways.

Now, you don’t want to try to write them this way, but speaking? Yes, do it. These

reductions sound like natural American English.

Shoulda, woulda coulda. Shoulda, woulda, coulda: these three words together is a phrase we

use sometimes to sayoh well’.

>> Man, I wish I had bought Apple stock ten years ago.

>> Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

Bonus: Let’s learn the negative too:

Should not have. Americans will say this: shouldn-uh. Drop the wordnotand just

make an N sound. So it’s going to sound like two or three syllables, depending on

how fast you transition from D to N: shouldnt-uh. Right aftershould’, hold out an N: shouldnnnnn.

The tongue position for D and N is almost the same. Shouldnnnnnnnnnn-uh. Then just release

the tongue to make the schwa. Shouldn-uh, shouldn-uh. This is the same for couldn’t

have, couldna, and wouldn’t have, wouldna.

Let’s look at some example sentences: Shouldn’t have, shouldna.

I shouldn’t have said that. I’m sorry. It shouldn’t have started already. Shouldna.

Couldn’t have, couldna. You couldn’t have known.

We couldn’t have made it anyway. Couldna, couldna.

Wouldn’t have, wouldna. I wouldn’t have said that.

It wouldn’t have mattered. Wouldna, wouldna.

I hope youll now be more comfortable identifying these phrases when you hear them, and reducing

them yourself in conversation.

If there’s a word or phrase you’d like help pronouncing, please put it in the comments

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That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.