Do you use contractions when you speak English?

Do you use contractions when you speak English?

Many non native speakers don’t use contractions when they speak American English.

Instead, they speak word by word, saying phrases such as can not, do not, they will, that is and they are.

Contracted forms

Instead, you should be saying these contracted forms in conversations.

  • can’t
  • don’t
  • they’ll
  • that’s
  • they’re

I know it’s hard to believe, but when you don’t use contractions, it contributes to your accent!

Contractions help you speak with a better rhythm   

Using contractions help you speak using the correct rhythm of spoken English.

When you speak using contractions you’re able to:

  • reduce the sounds of function words
  • use more schwa vowel sounds
  • blend words together more smoothly
  • use American T sounds more effectively

Friendly, melodic & natural

Since you’re not giving equal emphasis to every word, your speech sounds more friendly, melodic and natural to the American listener.

I teach you how to use contractions and many other strategies you can use to reduce your accent in my Skype accent reduction coaching program.

☆My programs are guaranteed to help you speak American English with clarity and confidence!☆



How to pronounce suggestions

How to pronounce suggestions

How to pronounce suggestions

How to pronounce suggestions

One word that my accent reduction coaching clients often mispronounce is suggestions.

It’s tricky!

Let me tell you why suggestions is such a tricky word to pronounce.

The first g has a /g/ sound

The second g has a /ʤ/ sound

The ti also has a /ʤ/ sound

The s has a /z/ sound

Listen & practice

Try to say the word using the audio and my special spelling.

sug ʤes→ ʤenz

Similar words

The ti in the word questions also has a /ʤ/ sound, making it sound like this~


Unlock the code

I help you unlock the code for saying words like suggestions, questions and hundreds of other difficult to pronounce words in my Skype accent reduction coaching program.

If speaking American English clearly and correctly is important to YOU, find out how my ☛ coaching program can work for you.


Why You Need to Use Syllable Stress Correctly

Why You Need to Use Syllable Stress Correctly

Use syllable stress correctly

Use syllable stress correctly

When you’re speaking American English it’s very important for you to use syllable stress correctly.

One reason is because English has many heteronyms.

Heteronyms are two words that are spelled identically. The way the words are pronounced determines their meaning.

Example #1

One good example of this is the word: ADDRESS.

When you say the word ‘address’ the way you use syllable stress changes the meaning of the word.

When you place stress is on the first syllable, address is a noun as in this sentence:
Susan’s a→ddress is 2010 Pine Street.

When you place stress on the second syllable, address becomes a verb.
Susan will əddre→ss the meeting tomorrow.

Example #2

Another example is the word PRESENT.

When you stress the first syllable, the word pre→sənt means a gift.

When you stress the second syllable prəse→nt becomes a verb that means ‘to give’.

Listen here



Note that the reduced syllable in the verb form has a schwa /ə/ vowel sound. This is the reduced vowel sound found in unstressed syllables.

The vowel sounds in stressed syllables are lengthened and pronounced with a slightly higher pitch.

The vowel sounds in reduced syllables often have a schwa sound.

Again, note how the vowel sound in the unstressed syllable is reduced to schwa. The vowel in each stressed syllable is lengthened and pronounced with a slightly higher pitch.

Learn more

To learn more about how to use syllable stress and the schwa vowel sound, check out my iBook, American Accent Fundamentals.

American Accent Fundamentals - Susan M. Ryan

It’s informative, affordable and so easy to use on your iPad.

The first chapter is free in the iBookstore at the link above.

How do I know which syllable to stress?

How do I know which syllable to stress?

How do I know which syllable to stress?

How do I know which syllable to stress?

If you’ve been working on your American accent, you understand that using syllable stress correctly is one of the key skills that you need to learn.

However, knowing which syllable to stress is not always so easy.

In fact, one of the most common questions that people ask me is

Susan, how do I know which syllable to stress?

Syllable stress rules & dictionaries 

Dictionaries use a tiny symbol like this ‘ to indicate which syllable in a word is stressed.

Some dictionaries add the ‘ before the stressed syllable. Other dictionaries add the ‘ after the stressed syllable.

These syllable stress symbols are tiny. Most people have never even noticed them.

I make it clear

When I work with my clients on syllable stress, I use my own symbol that’s much easier to read and understand.

In fact, in my accent reduction coaching program, I provide my clients with a Master List for Syllable Stress that they can use to master these critical patterns.

My Master List for Syllable Stress teaches you the correct way to use syllable stress in~

  1. Two syllable nouns
  2. Place names
  3. People’s names
  4. Nouns ending with tion
  5. Two syllable verbs
  6. Verbs ending with ize
  7. Verbs ending with ate
  8. Adjectives ending with ate
  9. Abbreviations
  10. Numbers

and more…’s a BIG LIST. And it’s really important if you want to speak in a way that’s clear and comprehensible to Americans.

Learn more here on my blog

Follow this thread to read more about how using syllable stress will help your American English sound crisp & clear!

Get some personal coaching

If you’re serious about making noticeable positive changes to the way you speak American English, see how my Skype accent reduction coaching program can help you achieve your communication goals.



Ketchup or catch up?

Ketchup or catch up?  

Ketchup or catch up?

Ketchup or catch up?

This past weekend, one of my accent reduction coaching clients said to me~

Susan, I’ve been so busy since the holidays. I’m still trying to ketchup on my work.

Of course I understood that he meant catch up.

Phrasal verbs rules

Catch up is a phrasal verb.

That means that you stress it on the second part when you say it. This is true for all phrasal verbs.

Listen here



I’m still trying to catchUP on my work.

Speak clear American English

In order to speak clear American English you must apply the correct syllable stress. Not doing so can change the meaning of a word.

Here are a few examples:

  • put down ~ to put something down
  • put down ~ an insult
  • stand up ~ to get off your chair
  • stand up~ a type of comedy
  • turn on~ the computer, the stove
  • turn on ~ that’s a sexual term
  • turn over ~ a piece of paper
  • turn over ~ a type of pastry

Learn your phrasal verbs

In my accent reduction coaching programs I teach you to speak clearly using phrasal verb stress and other types of syllable stress that you’re probably unaware of.


University of Iowa Pronunciation App

University of Iowa pronunciation app

University of Iowa Pronunciation App

University of Iowa Pronunciation App

The articulation tool from the University of Iowa is now available as an iPhone & Android app.

This is an excellent app for learning to articulate all of the American English vowel & consonant sounds.

The app features interactive models that show you how to say each sound clearly.

The cost is $2.99 and WELL WORTH it!    Follow this link to download the app.

Articulation is only part of the solutions

Remember that working on articulation alone, won’t teach you to communicate.

But it will give you a chance to practice individual words & sounds.

American English is not articulated like you think

Why do you need more than this app to communicate clearly in American English?

It’s because American English isn’t spoken word by word. In fact, we don’t actually pronounce  every consonant & vowel sound.

Syllable stress, schwa & intonation ♫

The syllable stress, schwa and  intonation patterns that you need to be an effective communicator in American English, simply can’t be learned using an app alone.

Learning to communicate

To make noticeable changes to the way you speak.

To speak with feeling and professionalism.

To learn to communicate in a way that’s engaging, you’ll need personal feedback from an accent reduction coach.

Speak clearly using pitch emphasis

Speak clearly using pitch emphasis

Speak clearly using pitch emphasis

Speak clearly using pitch emphasis

Many people who come to me for American accent coaching don’t have significant problems with their pronunciation….

….but they do need instruction on how to use stress and pitch!

Let me explain…..

Using pitch emphasis

When speaking American English you need to stress the most important words in a sentence or phrase using a slight rise in pitch.

When you use pitch emphasis on important words.  it brings your listeners’ attention to the critical words in your message.

It enables your listener to focus on what’s important.

Stress nouns & verbs more than other words

American speakers usually stress

  • nouns
  • verbs

Sometimes we stress adjectives.

Since nouns & verbs are usually critical to the meaning of a sentence we almost always emphasize them using a slight rise in pitch.

We don’t stress little words such as

  • the
  • it
  • but
  • a
  • to

We don’t say every word with the same emphasis!

So what happens if you don’t use pitch emphasis when you speak?

  1. Your speech will sound monotonous to your listeners because they can’t hear any pitch.
  2. Your listeners won’t know which words in your want them to pay attention to.
  3. Your listeners will have to concentrate extra hard to understand you.
  4. They’ll get tired of listening and sometimes they’ll give up.

Help your listeners to understand you 

If you want to speak American English more clearly you MUST learn to use pitch emphasis correctly. This will help native speakers understand you more easily.

Learn using my iPad book for the American accent

American Accent iPad bookI teach you the rules for speaking American English with the correct stress & pitch in

my iPad book ☆American Accent Fundamentals.

My iPad book is an excellent guide that will help you speak American English more clearly,



American English Everyday Dialogs

American English Everyday Dialogs 

American English Dialogs

American English Dialogs

The people who I work with in my Skype accent reduction coaching program are learning to:

  • Communicate with clarity and confidence in their workplace
  • Improve the way they speak in everyday situations (at the market, at lunch, on the phone)

Small Talk

We often call the latter skill, “small talk”. But really, it’s not small at all.

That’s because speaking clearly when you pick up the phone or chat with your colleagues at lunch is really important.

Small talk allows you to connect with people.

  • Those connections enhance your relationships.
  • Those connections allow you to get things done faster.
  • Those connections allow you to be recognized for your contributions.

Free Dialog Practice Activities

For those of you who want to improve your American English “small talk”, below is a link to some excellent everyday dialogs said with super clear North American accents.

American English Everyday Dialogs

The dialog site has some special accent tips for Russian speakers.

These are great dialogs, so be sure to check them out!


How to sound friendly in American English

How to sound friendly in American English

How to sound friendly in American English

How to sound friendly in American English

Have people commented that your American English sounds sort of

  •  flat
  • monotone
  • unfriendly

Many of the people I work with in my accent reduction coaching programs have been told this. Since my clients are for the most part very friendly people, they want to change this perception.

How can you do this?

In order to change sound more friendly when speaking American English, you need to learn how to use American English intonation patterns.

What are intonation patterns? 

Intonation is the melody of spoken language. ♬ It’s the way we use pitch emphasis in phrases and sentences.

The way you use intonation sets the TONE of your message. This can be friendly, bored, uncertain, angry, confident…..

Here’s an example

When I ask someone “Hey Susan, how ARE you?”  ⤵ I use rising falling intonation.

I rise up on ARE …and then glide or fall down on you.  That type of melody makes me sound nice & friendly.☺

If I just say “Hey Susan, how are you?” without a rising falling intonation contour, I don’t sound as friendly.

Listen here to compare the tone of my message


Learn to speak in a friendly manner

I teach you to use rising falling intonation so that you can speak English in a manner that’s friendly and engaging in all my accent reduction programs. I you want to sound more friendly when YOU speak American English, take a look at what I have to offer.

Here is a short QUIZ on American English Intonation Patterns-Give it a try!

American English Intonation Patterns

Choose the best answer for each question about American English intonation.
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