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.

With to

The word to contracts with a number of verbs to form single words. These are given in the table below.

had to hæt̬ə We /hæt̬ə/ tell her
has to hæstə He /hæstə/ be there
have to hæftə I /ˈhæftə/ do it
supposed to səpoʊstə She’s /səpoʊstə/ do it
used to juːstə he /juːstə/ do this
want to wɑːnə I /wɑːnə/ kiss you
going to gənə It’s /gənə/ rain

With not

Not has a WF /nt/, informally spelled n’t, which contracts with auxiliaries, as in He couldn’t /kʊldnt/come. In such cases the auxiliary always has the SF, i.e. we cannot have */kədnt/, for example. In some cases the contractions consist of one syllable. These are given in the table below.

are not or aren’t ɑrnt
cannot or can’t kænt
do not or don’t doʊnt
will not or won’t woʊnt

In questions, not is often written after the subject in formal writing, as in Is it not time Mrs Selkirk took that step?  When reading such a sentence out, however, not should be contracted with the auxiliary: /ɪznt ɪt/ etc. The pronunciation /ɪz ɪt nɑːt/ would be very formal.

Note that in order to avoid the clumsy Am I Not? One normally says /ɑrnt aɪ/, and writes Aren’t I? And musn’t is pronounced /mʌsnt/.