Pronunciation – Weak and Strong Forms


Tom can play basketball, but not tennis. – Yes, he can! I saw him play tennis last week. This short conversation contains two examples of ‘can’. In the first sentence, ‘can’ is not accented and takes the weak form. It is said quickly, with almost no vowel. In the second sentence ‘can’ is pronounced using the strong form with a full vowel. This guide to weak and strong forms will help you improve pronunciation by recognizing which words have these forms and when the weak or the strong form is used.

These two articles go further into how weak and strong forms are pronounced because of emphases and the intonation of English.

Intonation and Stress in English
Sound Scripting – Emphasizing words to change meaning

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