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We can drop the "h" in the words "he", "him", "his" and "her" if there is a consonant before them and if there is no punctuation between. For example like in "I like him." Can we do the same in the words I mentioned in the title?

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  • To my knowledge, one should never drop the "h" sound. Not even in the case you mention, with a preceding consonant. You may still find the dropped "h" sound in a regional dialect, but I think even that usage has faded. Dropping the "h" sound is quite famously illustrated in George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, where it was characterized as an uneducated speech pattern. I would be curious where you have heard that dropping an "h" is ok.
    – Mark G B
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 16:29
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    Are you a native speaker? Native speakers definitely can drop the "h" in "him", "her" and "his". You can type "Pronunciation: How to pronounce words beginning with /h/" and watch the video of BBC on Youtube. In my own observation and according to many native English teachers that's correct. Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 16:54
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    @CorvusB, I think dropping 'h' is not uncommon for these particular words. For example, "Get 'im!" But I don't think it depends so much on the preceding sound being a consonant, rather just on the word being unstressed. For example, I think it could be dropped in "Show 'er the car" (though I guess the 'w' could arguably be a consonant there).
    – The Photon
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 16:54
  • Thanks. What about "hers"? I feel like the "h" of "hers" shouldn't ever be dropped either. In the video I mentioned also the teacher didn't mention that we can drop the "h" in "hers". Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 17:08
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    I have been a native speaker for some 60 odd years now - of American English, just to be clear. It is entirely uncommon for the "h" to ever be dropped, and only occurs in the most informal usage. Even then, for most Americans, the "h" may lack stress, but it is typically not dropped entirely, as happens in certain British dialects. It should not be taught as acceptable.
    – Mark G B
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 21:48

2 Answers 2

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Contrary to what was said in comments, it is fairly common to drop the 'h' in him, her, and his. But I am not sure that it depends on the preceding sound being a vowel. Rather I think the 'h' is dropped when the word is unstressed. For example, I think I'd drop the 'h' in something like

Show [h]er the car.

Whether the 'w' in show is a consonant here (or becomes one when the 'h' is dropped) might be debatable. Another example of dropping 'h' after a vowel would be "Did you do 'er?" (where to keep the example from being excessively crude, we'll assume we're in a gangster movie and do means "kill").

In the case of hers I think the 'h' is dropped as routinely as it is in his.

For himself and herself, I have a hard time thinking of an example where the word is sufficiently unstressed to drop the 'h', but I think it would be in something like,

Being a time-traveler, she had to be careful not to meet herself coming around a corner.

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  • I can flap the "t" which comes before the word if I drop the "h" in the words "he", "him", "his" and "her" like in "I like to visit her" "I swore at him" "This is the cat he petted" etc, right? Instead of a true t sound, I can make a flap at the words "visit", "at", and "cat" in those sentences, right? Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 14:45
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Not in standard English, though you will find many accents and dialects (such as Cockney or Coventry) that do this...

Except after any /u/ (IPA) sound at the end of the previous word, as suggested in this answer (I am just attempting to clarify that it is not normally accepted to drop the "h" sound).

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  • Thanks. According to the English tutorial videos of BBC and also Americans(American accent is what I practice actually) it is standard English. Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 17:28
  • No, it is unequivocally not standard English. Cockney and Coventry accents are not regarded as standard English. I would certainly like to see a link to the BBC videos you mention. In the US, in such informal examples as given, in an informal setting, one might find the "h" is not stressed, but it is typically not dropped entirely.
    – Mark G B
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 21:58
  • @Corvus B This one is the video of BBC: youtube.com/watch?v=x6wLCnaHsJU&t=106s And these are the videos of some Anericans: youtube.com/watch?v=QuOw_KnFk3Y youtube.com/watch?v=DqGr_U-I5ko&t=4s What you said is confusing sir. The user named The Photon above is American too and he doesn't agree with you. Many native speakers don't agree with what you said actually. :) Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 9:00
  • And I could be wrong, but I am quite sure I am not. Still, thank you for the links, I will view them, and if I learn something along the way, it will be good exercise for my brain. However, the examples noted, "get 'im", "get 'er", could be considered idiomatic. They can be extended to a few other cases, I imagine. I can think of "look at 'im". But it is not extended to general usage. Even in typical usage on these phrases, the "h" is not dropped. It is weak, but it is aspirated. Also, to the original topic, the case would not be extended to other pronouns like "himself" or "herself".
    – Mark G B
    Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 13:53
  • Oh, boy. Now I have to very angry letters that I must write to the producers of both these videos. The US vid is the most accurate - and you notice she uses the word "reduced", which is quite accurate, and she gives a VERY limited number of words where this is done, which is also accurate. Insert the words "help", or "home" in the examples, and if you hear a native speaker say it, you will see the reduction no longer applies. I think that, unless a learner is already at near-native command, these tutes are not useful, but distractive.
    – Mark G B
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 3:05

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