No matter how good your English grammar and vocabulary may be, if your pronunciation is so bad that nobody can understand a word you say, then your English won't be much good as a means of communication. You might be good at grammar, have a broad vocabulary, and be able to explain all the aspects and tenses of English, but it's not much good if you can't be understood when you speak. I have designed these Activities to help you to improve your pronunciation, as well as other areas of your English.
Reading is the easiest way to take in English. Listening is a much harder skill and one that has to be developed as you study the language. There are lots of speech features that arise when native English speakers speak English. These speech features, such as elision, simplification, intonation, stress, and rhythm, and the way in which speakers may miss out sounds or whole words, are important to understand if you are to be able to listen to and fully understand spoken English. These Britlish Library Activities will help you to develop you listening skills.
It's not easy to teaching speaking skills remotely through a website, however good the site is. To really practice your speaking skills, you need someone to speak to who can correct your mistakes as you go. The Activities here will go some way to helping you to improve your speaking skills by helping you to mirror the speech you hear in the lesson. In this way, you can notice how your speech differs from that in the Activities and, by recording your own speech, you can adjust your pronunciation to more accurately match that in the Activities.
Ellipsis is the missing out of words or sounds. When writing, it is shown by the ellipsis sign of three dots … When speaking, we just don’t hear certain words in a sentence. It’s not that the words are not present, just that they are obvious and need not be spoken. Ellipsis can cause considerable problems for students of English who are used to saying every word in a sentence. Knowing how ellipsis works is one of the ways you can improve your listening skills. Don’t worry! Ellipsis and near ellipsis are not essential things to learn how to do. You will still be understood by all listeners if you don’t use ellipsis. However, you need to know how and why it happens if you want to fully understand native English speakers. We’re a lazy bunch, us English speakers, and anything we can do to get the message across with the minimal amount of effort we will do.
Ellipsis is the missing out of words or sounds.
When writing, it is shown by the ellipsis sign of three dots …
When speaking, we just don’t hear certain words in a sentence.
It’s not that the words are not present, just that they are obvious and need not be spoken.
Ellipsis can cause considerable problems for students of English who are used to saying every word in a sentence.
Knowing how ellipsis works is one of the ways you can improve your listening skills.
Like ellipsis, near ellipsis is a way of missing out the obvious words in a sentence when speaking.
Unlike ellipsis, near ellipsis only misses out part of a word.
You may know the famous Christmas poem which begins:
‘Twas the night before Christmas…
Here we have near ellipsis of the word it at the start of the sentence.
The author thought this necessary as it meant he could use just one syllable instead of the two in It was…
The poem’s rhythm needed one fewer syllable and so near ellipsis was used.
You don’t have to do this!
Don’t worry! Ellipsis and near ellipsis are not essential things to learn how to do.
You will still be understood by all listeners if you don’t use ellipsis.
However, you need to know how and why it happens if you want to fully understand native English speakers.
We’re a lazy bunch, us English speakers, and anything we can do to get the message across with the minimal amount of effort we will do.
You can see how prevalent ellipsis is from the poem I mentioned a moment ago.
Victims of Ellipsis
The empty pronoun, it, is often a victim of ellipsis and near ellipsis. You can find out more about this in the Empty Pronoun lesson.
Personal subjects before be or have are also victims.
Be when it is used as a question word is a common victim.
Auxiliary verbs like do or have often fall victim to ellipsis, too.
And it’s not just verbs that disappear, but entire subjects of any kind, particularly when preceded by auxiliary verbs.
Let’s look at each case in turn, shall we?
Subjects with Be or Have
The subject pronouns are often subject to ellipsis and near ellipsis particularly when followed by be or have.
Are you ready, yet?
I’m ready! (No simplification)
…’m ready! (Near ellipsis)
…ready! (Full ellipsis)
Be in Questions
And in our last example we can also have ellipsis and near ellipsis in the question itself.
Are you ready, yet? (No simplification)
…you ready, yet? (Near ellipsis)
…ready, yet? (Full ellipsis)
Question Words and Subjects
Question words followed by subjects are often victims of ellipsis which can result in the auxiliary and the subject disappearing.
Do you want to know more? (No simplification)
…you want to know more? (Near ellipsis)
…want to know more? (Full ellipsis)
Have you got a minute? (No simplification)
…you got a minute? (Near ellipsis)
…got a minute? (Full ellipsis)
5WH Questions with Be and Have
In 5WH questions, ellipsis and near ellipsis often rob us of the be and have verbs.
Where are you going? (No simplification)
Where … you going? (Full ellipsis)
What has she done? (No simplification)
What’s she done? (Near ellipsis)
What… she done? (Full ellipsis)
5WH Questions with Do
When we use do with 5WH questions, we only hear near ellipsis and the do is heard as / s / or / z / as in contractions.
What does he want? (No simplification)
What’s he want? (Near ellipsis)
Where does he live? (No simplification)
Where’s he live? (Near ellipsis)
The best way to understand what is happening with ellipsis is to do some practice.
In the exercises, listen to the sentences as I say them.
Decide whether I use no simplification, near ellipsis, or ellipsis when I speak.
Record yourself speaking the sentences using the same near ellipsis or ellipsis as you hear me use.
Refresh your browser to get some new random sentences to practice with.
Use your study record to set lessons as completed, rate them with a 1-5 star rating, record vocabulary from the lesson for future reference, and take notes about the lesson for future reference.
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