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.
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!
HOW TO HEAR AND SAY THE REDUCED FORM OF THE PREPOSITION OF IN FAST, NATURAL SPOKEN ENGLISH
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.
NOTE: 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.
I learned a lot, with this lesson. Thanks.
perfect, very good teacher skills
Dani Jiménez says
I'm a student from Madrid and I've already read your story and i think it's very interesting.
I've learn many things about that day, so thank you.
miguel sanz says
I'm from Madrid and I've alredy read your story. You told me many things that i didn't know before
I have learned a lot with your lesson "A Dilemma on Thanksgiving!". thaks.
I'd like to know if the vowel sound (I) in an unstressed syllable (like in: Pump-kin, pock-et, vir-gin, Kev-in, etc.) really is changed into a schwa by some speakers, therefore those words I mentioned would be pronounced like this: pumpkin /ˈpʌmpkən/, pocket /ˈpɑ:kət/, virgin /ˈvɚʤən/, Kevin /'kevən/ instead of the /I/ sound at the unstressed syllable. Does this happen Melanie?
Thanks a lot for replying me. I really needed the answer of a person who knows the language better than anyone else (you). That cleared up my mind. :)
I totally agree with you about the importance of these two different sounds. I used to do a comparison pronouncing a same word with both sounds in the unstressed syllable just to hear the difference, and sometimes in some words even I knew which sound I was making I couldn't notice a significant difference between them. It's like you make a sound, you know what sound you are making but you can't really say if it's really being pronounced differently (sometimes). Well, I don't know. That's why english is so fascinating! :)
Again, thanks for your explanation. You can't imagine how it helped me. ;)
This is an interesting question. In an unstressed syllable, the difference between /ə/ and /I/ is very small and not very important. I checked two different dictionaries (Merriam Webster's Learner's Dictionary & Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary) and got two different answers! One had /ˈvɚʤən/ and one had /ˈvɚʤIn/. This is one case where is doesn't really matter if you say /ə/ or /I/ – no one will hear the difference!
I hope that helps!
Thank teacher so much. it ís very good :)
Hi, Tai! It’s nice to see you again. I’m glad you’re still enjoying the listening lessons. = )
Hi, Melanie! Iam havinga trouble with listening part!! Seems like the story doesnt play when i hit the lesson,
Have you tried it again? It’s loading & playing fine for me.
What country are you in?
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well , this is an important way to learn english pronounciation , I corrected soo many words that I was totally sure that it is prounounced in another way but it is never too late to correct oneself, i listented to your story at list 3times without looking at the written form than I read with you. it is, acctually, a good technique . Thank u verry much Mélanie .
Hi Melanie! Thank you for your amazing podcasts and pronunciation guides. They are really helpful!
Would you mind answering my question?
This podcast is about the reduced form of OF. I can’t understand how to pronounce the reduced form of OF in the phrase “One useful way of seeing the difference…”.
“One useful way of seeing the difference…”.
‘Way of’ can be pronounced two ways in this sentence:
/weɪə/ and /weɪəv/
It just depends how the speaker is speaking. If the speaker is speaking naturally & quickly amongst friends, he would probably say /ə/. If he is giving presentation or doing an interview, he would probably be fully pronouncing ‘of’ /əv/
Thank you, Melanie
You’re the best english teacher in the world!
Amr Wady says
Happy Thanksgiving Day. I am wondering if you could teach English online on Verbling or Colingo sites.
Greetings from Egypt. :)
Mr. Duval says
How can I support this amazing thing…