Basic English: How to pronounce negative contractions


Hello. I'm Gill at engVid. And today, we have a lesson on contractions. And you

may already have seen a previous lesson I've done on contractions with the

personal pronoun and the verb, with an apostrophe. This is a second one in that

series, with negative contractions. Okay. So, you might find it useful to

look at the other one first, before you look at this one. But don't worry, if

you want to watch this one first, then that's fine. Okay. So, these are

contractions, and how to write them, and how to pronounce themjust like in the

other lesson. And it's particular verbs that are used with these. So, the verb

"to be", with: "is" and "are", including the past tense: "was" and "were"; and

the future: "will", which changes its spelling to "w-o", rather than "w-i" —

we'll come to that again in a minute. The verb "to have": "has", "have", and

the past form: "had". And the verb "do": "do", "does"; "did" in the past. Okay.

And we also have some conditional ones as well, and a non-standard one, so I'll

explain those when we get to them. So, this is the main list here. And because

it's a negative contraction, we're using the word: "not" — "n-o-t" — "not". But

because it's a contraction, that gets the "o" omitted; the "o" is missing, and

the apostrophe is there, instead, to represent the missing "o". So, instead

of saying: "is not", we just say: "isn't", "isn't". Okay. So, I've noticed

some people, when they're reading from printed material and they see these

contractions, they expand them, and they read it: "it is not", "are not", "was

not", but you shouldn't do that if it's written as a contraction. There's a

particular way to pronounce it in its contracted form; abbreviated form.

Because these mostly represent how people speak; and when people are

speaking, they make things shorter for convenience, because it's shorter and

quicker when you're speaking, and it's more informal as well. So, people don't

go around saying: "is not", "are not", "were not" when they're having a

conversation; they use these abbreviated forms. Okay?

So, I'll just go through them so that you get an idea of how to pronounce

them. So, "isn't", "aren't"... so, this is a funny one; you might think it's:

"aren't", "aren't", but it's just: "aren't". It's a bit, like... well, it

sounds the same as that wordwhich is a family member — "aunt" and "uncle". It

sounds exactly the same as "aunt", so that's a way of remembering how to

pronounce it. So, "aren't". "Wasn't", "weren't", "won't", "hasn't", "haven't",

"hadn't", "don't", "doesn't", "didn't". Okay? So, that... it's... with most of

them, it's quite obvious what it is because you just remember that the...

the apostrophe is for the missing "o": "is not", "are not", "was not", "were

not", but this one... this is a bit strange because it means "will not", but

it's a strange thing that when it's contracted, the "i" in "will" becomes an

"o, so that's very strange. But I guess it's partly because it's difficult to

say: "willn't", "willn't" — it's... doesn't sound right at all, so it...

"will not" contracts to "won't", "won't". Okay? And then: "hasn't",

"haven't", "hadn't", "don't", "doesn't", "didn't" — they're all obvious what...

what they are; just put the "o" in where the apostrophe is, and you'll know what

it is. Okay, good. And then these three, here, with: "would", "could", and

"should". So, it's: "would not", "could not", "should not", but how it sounds

when contracted is: "wouldn't", "couldn't", "shouldn't". Okay? And then,

finally... we've covered this in another lesson about the Cockney accent; if

you've not seen that one yet, you might like to have a look at it, but this is a

non-standard form of a negative contraction: "ain't". It means... it

goes with the verb "to be"; it means: "am not", "is not", "are not". It can go

with any pronoun: "I ain't", "you ain't", "he ain't", "we ain't", "they

ain't". It works with all the pronouns, meaning: "is not", "are not" — the verb

"to be". But you may hear people using it, but it's... it's a non-standard

form, so I wouldn't use it if you're at an interview, for example, or in a

meeting with clientsthat sort of thing. It wouldn't be quite right; it's

a bit too informal, but it's there for you to know about because it's yet

another contraction. Okay. So, I hope that's helpful to show you how... how to

write them; how to pronounce them. And if you'd like to do a quiz to test your

knowledge, just go to, and do the quiz. See how you get on. So,

thank you for watching; and hope to see you again soon. Okay. Bye for now.