Listen to a story about a dilemma I had at Thanksgiving dinner this year!
You’ll also learn how to hear and make the reduced form of the preposition “of.”
Welcome to the English Teacher Melanie Podcast, a podcast for intermediate to advanced English learners who want to improve their English listening and speaking skills!
Each episode includes a story and a pronunciation tip. In the story, I use core vocabulary, the most common words in English, to tell a real world story. The pronunciation tip will help you understand natural spoken English.
You’ll hear the story twice. The first time, the story is a little slower than normal. It sounds funny because I used editing software to change the speed of the story and make it slower. After the pronunciation tip, you’ll hear the story again, but at a regular speed.
Every year on the 2nd Monday in October, Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving. This is not to be confused with the American Thanksgiving, which happens in November. Thanksgiving began as a special day to thank God at the end of the harvest, when the farmers had finished collecting all the crops from their fields. Even though most Canadians aren’t farmers anymore, Thanksgiving is still an important holiday. We celebrate the day with a big family dinner.
Learn more: Canadian Thanksgiving
We had our family over for dinner on the Sunday so everyone could relax on the Monday before they had to go back to work. The house was full of fun and lively conversations. There were 9 of us around the dining room table. I don’t know how my mother cooks such a large meal. Every year, she makes such a delicious dinner! We had turkey with stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce, as well as fall vegetables like potatoes, squash, turnip, and carrots.
I had a real dilemma this year! Everyone who came to dinner brought a dessert: We had cupcakes, 3 different kinds of pie and an apple dessert! Dessert is my favourite part of the meal. How could I possibly eat dinner AND all the desserts? Do I eat a big dinner and choose only one dessert? Or do I eat a little less at dinner, so I can save room for more of the desserts? This was my dilemma.
In the end, I compromised. I ate some turkey and vegetables, but not too much. I attempted to eat a little bit of all the desserts, but I only had room for 1 cupcake, some apple crisp and a slice of pie. We put one of the pies in the freezer to save it for later, and during the week after Thanksgiving we ate one of the other pies.
I was so full after dinner, but it was a very happy Thanksgiving!
Listen to some things I said in the story:
3 different kinds of pie
a slice of pie
one of the pies
Did you hear the word of in those phrases?
Of is a preposition. It’s a function word so it’s unstressed in a sentence. It’s reduced to just the sound /ə/ before a consonant sound.
So, instead of 3 different kinds of pie, you’ll hear:
3 different /kaɪnzə/ pie
Instead of a slice of pie, you’ll hear:
A /slaɪsə/ pie
Instead of one of the pies, you’ll hear
/wʌnə/ the pies
It’s not wrong to fully pronounce of and pronounce the /v/ sound at the end. Also, when of is before a vowel sound, the final /v/ sound is usually pronounced. You should learn to recognize both the fully pronounced and the reduced form of of.
This is why you will sometimes see native speakers write a slice a pie or kinda. They say /ə/ and forget that the sound actually represents of.