Listen to a story about a car accident I had many years ago!
You’ll also learn how to say the modal verb phrases “should have” and “should not have” in fast, natural spoken English.
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.
I consider myself a good driver. I’ve been driving for over 20 years. I’ve only been in one accident and I’ve only gotten one speeding ticket. Still, I hate making left turns, because I got in an accident once making a left-hand turn. We drive on the right-hand side of the road in North America, so when you make a left turn, you’re driving in front of cars coming in the opposite direction.
Learn more: Use the present perfect to talk about your life experiences
The accident happened at a busy intersection. I’d been waiting a while in the left-hand turn lane at the traffic lights, and there was one car in front of me. The light turned amber and the car in front of me turned left. I followed the car hoping to beat the red light. I’d just assumed that the cars in the other direction had already stopped since the car in front of me was turning left.
Learn more: How to use I, me, myself, and my
I saw too late that a car had sped up and was trying to beat the red light. I was hit in the middle of the intersection. The car slammed into my passenger-side door. I completed the left-hand turn and pulled over to the side of the road. There was an off-duty police officer in the car behind me who witnessed the accident. I don’t remember who called the police, but an officer arrived at the scene. He explained that both drivers were at fault and he gave both of us tickets. I shouldn’t have tried to rush through the amber light. I should have checked that all the cars had stopped before I started the left turn.
I wasn’t hurt. The other driver wasn’t hurt, either. There was damage to the passenger-side door and it cost me a lot of money to repair the door! I didn’t fight the ticket in court. I paid the fine. Now, I avoid making left-hand turns as much as possible, especially at a busy intersection!
My Car Died | Episode 19
My License Plate | Episode 08
HOW TO SAY “SHOULD HAVE” AND “SHOULD NOT HAVE” IN FAST NATURAL SPOKEN ENGLISH
This transcript uses IPA symbols to represent sounds and teach pronunciation. Learn more about the IPA here.
Listen to a sentence from the story:
I should have checked that all the cars had stopped
Did you hear the modal verb phrase should have in that sentence? In fast, natural spoken English, should have is pronounced /ʃʊɾəv/.
The modal verb should is only 3 sounds: ʃ ʊ d
The L is silent. Don’t say the L. Should rhymes with good, wood/would, and hood.
Click here to see if your language has the vowel sound [ʊ]: (Wikipedia)
Have, in this phrase, is an auxiliary verb. It’s a helping verb. The main verb is the verb after have.
To make the verb phrase easier to say, should and have are contracted. They form the spoken contraction “should’ve.”
“Should’ve” is an informal written contraction. In formal writing, like in an essay or in a report for work, it is better to write out should have. Both Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary and the Cambridge Dictionary list “should’ve” as a contraction of should and have. However, one of the grammar books that I use, Practical English Usage by Michael Swan, does not list “should’ve” as an accepted written contraction.
The helping verb have is reduced in this contraction. It becomes the sound /əv/. Yes, it sounds the same as the preposition of. There is no H sound and the vowel sound becomes the reduced vowel schwa sound [ə].
Learn more: The reduced form of the preposition of | Episode 09
The D is between two vowel sounds, and it’s at the beginning of an unstressed syllable. It becomes the alveolar flap sound. I talk about this sound in a few pronunciation tips, because it’s a common sound in American English.
Listen: Pronunciation tips that explain the alveolar flap sound
The T and D consonant sounds have the same mouth position. T is voiceless and D is voiced. However, both become the same alveolar flap sound when they’re at the beginning of an unstressed syllable and between two vowel sounds.
The alveolar flap sound is not a T or a D sound. It’s a quick tongue tap. The tip of your tongue quickly hits or taps the gum ridge behind your top teeth.
/ʃʊɾəv/ -or- /ʃʊt̬əv/
Notice that I’m not saying /
ʃʊdəv/ with a hard D sound.
I should have checked that all the cars had stopped …
In very fast, informal speech, some speakers will shorten have even more and just say the reduced vowel schwa sound [ə]:
/ʃʊɾə/ -or- /ʃʊt̬ə/
Listen to another sentence from the story:
I shouldn’t have tried to rush through the amber light.
Did you hear the modal verb phrase should not have in that sentence? In fast, natural spoken English, shouldn’t have is pronounced /ʃʊdnəv/.
Shouldn’t is a contraction of the words should and not. The contraction ends with the letters D, N, T. I’ve already told you that the D and T have the same mouth position. Both sounds start with the tip of your tongue pressed against the gum ridge behind your top teeth. This is ALSO the starting mouth position for the N consonant sound. The difference is that the N consonant sound is continuous and it comes out of your nose. Try it: [n]
When you say the first part should, don’t finish the D sound. Stop the sound, but keep the tip of your tongue pressed up against the gum ridge behind your top teeth. Without moving your tongue, go straight into the N sound. Listen:
The N and T have the same mouth position, they are both in the unstressed syllable, and the T is followed by a vowel sound. When that happens, American English speakers skip the T sound and go straight into the next sound. The next sound is the reduced form of have.
Put those sounds together: ʃʊd n əv
I shouldn’t have tried …
Again, in very fast, informal speech, some speakers will shorten have even more and just say the reduced vowel schwa sound [ə]:
When American English speakers are speaking slowly or when they want to speak clearly, they may say should have or should not have very clearly. It’s not wrong to fully pronounce these modal verb phrases. It’s important that you know all the ways of saying these phrases so that you can hear all the ways of saying them.
Note: the IPA symbol for the alveolar flap is [ɾ]. However, none of the dictionaries for English learners use this symbol, maybe because it looks too much like an r. Some dictionaries do not use any symbol to represent the flap sound. They use use the regular [t] symbol. Other dictionaries use the symbol [ t̬ ]. I have chosen to use both in this pronunciation tip.
- Have you ever been in an accident?
- Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket?
Leave me a comment below!
Marie-Danielle O'Reilly says
Thank you Melanie ! Your story goes very well with the news I heard on the radio. .Have you seen the snow this morning in Montreal ? Thank God nobody was hurt ! You almost have to cry…and scream.
I will always LOVE your stories. They really help with my English.
When you explain the grammar, I understand very well.
Big kiss from Switzerland !
Thanks so much for your fantastic website and your free English lessons. I always archive them because I am very lazy about checking my emails.You are second to none.
Thank you Melanie for all the lessons; I enjoy them all, appreciate your effort.
I hope you’re OK. Thanks God you didn’t get hurt in this car accident.
Thanks for your lessons once again.
Like everybody does, I tank you for your time explaining to us how to use the English vocabulary, And about car accidents, you say you paid a lot of money to repair your car. In my country when you have a car accident it is paid by an insurance company. I have driven a lot of time and fortunately I have not had any major accidents.
Thank you for your free stories.
My regards, Gabriel.
I really appreciate you to spend your time for us. I enjoy your lessons. Thanks so much.
How are you? I wonder about you! You are same like me. I love my native language Tamil.Four months ago, I searched for a job.No one gave me a job due to my lack of English language.I worried. Every one told me to learn the English language,but no one explained the proper way to learn English.One year ago, I found your website. From that day,I have been learning English language by your guidelines. I can’t improve English suddenly.I tried to learn,by watching your pronunciation videos,reading the listening lessons,and hearing the listening stories. I attended the interview confidently and I got a job.
I´ve also gotten one speeding ticket. It was in a urban area where the limit was 50km/h and I was driving at 71km/h. There wasn´t traffic in the road and I didn´t realize the real speed. I had to pay one fine and I Iost 2 points in my driver license.
I ve never been an accident hehe firstable i dont know how to drive but one month ago i had an accident in the passenger side was horrible and i had headache for 3 days..so i decided when i know how to drive i will try to be cautious because i dont wanna hurt others.. i like a lot your stories.. because help me in my english learning!
all the best wishes for you!
Hi Melanie! I am Costarrican, I am married with an American and now I live in Texas. I want to have my pharmacy license here in The U.S nut passing the TOEFL is really difficult. Thank you because there is so much vocabulary to learn… you have helped me a lot with tons of vocabulary.
I got a ticket driving to New Mexico. Texas is huge so, I was really tired and wanted to arrive as soon as possible. I had to pay $160… very painful… and what I didn’t know is that the car insurance increases because of that :(
I have a question: I bought a podcast (I think) that had a PDF document. You offered in it core vocabulary for the lesson with collocations, phrasal verbs, etc. You don’t do that for every podcast, do you? I am rally interested in those pdf. I am willing to pay. I think that the one I bought is about the garage sale.
I really appreciate you to spend your time for us. I enjoy your lessons.Pronunciation of words is very important. Please explain the differences in American and British pronunciation in one lesson.
Thanks so much.
Hi, Behzad! Thank you for your kind words! It’s impossible to explain the differences between American & British pronunciation in one lesson, because I don’t know everything about British pronunciation! If you would like to learn more about British pronunciation, I recommend the BBC Learning English website!
I need your professional help.
Is it correct “I used to play the piano for 10 years”
Cara Leopold says
Hi Melanie. This is a cool format for a learner podcast. I love the level of detail you go into in the pronunciation tip: with reason because I find that these 3rd conditional structures pose huge problems for learners to catch, even at upper-intermediate and advanced levels!
I’ve never been in an accident, but I’m a very fearful driver and I rarely drive. Stories about accidents probably don’t help with the fear factor!
Hope to hear some more episodes from you soon.