American English Phonetics

Another American English Faculty Project

The second column gives the SF, the third the WF, and the fourth column gives an illustration of the use of the WF.

The following prepositions have WFs and SFs:

  SF WF Example
at æt ət at home
for fɔr fər for William
from frʌm frəm from Angela
of ʌv əv a view of LA
    ə in: a cup of tea, a pint of milk, etc.
till tɪl t(ə)l till Christmas
(in)to tuː to go into business
until ʌnˈtɪl ənˈtɪl until we die

Before vowels, many speakers use /tu/ for the weak form of to, as in to Ann, to eat.

Again, the Sf is used when the word is stressed: I don’t like the people who talk ˈat /æt/ one rather than with one.

Just like auxiliaries, prepositions may occur before a deletion site, in which case they, too, have their SF. Consider the sentence: They are looking at the problem now. If we could move the words the problem away from at, then this preposition would occur before a deletion site. We can do this by making the sentence passive: The problem is being looked at /æt/ { DS} now.

Or by turning it into a relative clause:

This is the problem that they are looking at /æt/ { DS} now.

Or by querying ’the problem’, that is, by asking:

What are they looking at /æt/ { DS} now?.

Here are some further examples:

I don’t know who he has got it from /frʌm/ { DS}.

What are you doing that for /fɔr/ { DS} ?.

In those days kissing in public was not approved of  /ʌv/ { DS}.

Note that also the infinitive particle to may occur before a deletion site, as in: Marry you? You know I’d love to /tuː/ { DS} but my husband won’t let me.

Summarizing: prepositions and the infinitive particle to have their SF when they are stressed or when they occur immediately before a deletion site. When an unstressed preposition occurs before an unstressed personal pronoun, the preposition usually also has its SF.