I'm having a hard time understanding native speakers when they speak like these examples below.


It's a book (of) pictures.

I know native speakers tend to pronounce of as a schwa sound, but here I can only hear a /k/ sound of book, there's no of at all!


It's not finish**(ed)** yet.

In this example, the -ed sound of finished is also disappeared. Sometimes native speakers stop sounds like /t/,/p/, etc... But in this case, the /t/ sound is for people to know it's a past tense, I don't think it's fine to be omitted.


I'(d) like that.

Again, I can't hear the /d/ sound here, but this time, I have my own understand and want to check if it's right. I think this situation is about the rhythm thing if it is I like that. the rhythm is like:
enter image description here
If it is I'd like that. it would be:
enter image description here
Am I right?

  • 1
    There is a distinct extra syllable between "book" and "pictures". I will agree that the final "d" in some past-tense verbs is harder to hear, and sometimes can be confusing even for native speakers. Most of the time we learn which to expect from context.
    – Andrew
    Apr 13, 2018 at 19:33
  • Although both are a single syllable, there is a distinct difference between "I' and "I'd". You just need to train your ear to detect it.
    – Andrew
    Apr 13, 2018 at 19:39
  • Your thought about the rhythm is not correct, unfortunately. I and I'd are both one syllable, and have the same length; you can't expect to hear any difference in rhythm like that.
    – stangdon
    Apr 16, 2018 at 13:40
  • @stangdon So how could I tell which is which? Could you show me some tips?
    – preachers
    Apr 16, 2018 at 22:10
  • 1
    @preachers - You just have to listen for it. To a native English speaker, there is a small but definite duh sound in I'd that is not there in I. Consider the difference between "I ignore" and "I'd ignore": the 'd in the second one is a stop consonant sound that doesn't exist in the first. It can be easier or harder to hear depending on the next sound; it is easier to hear it in "I'd eat" than it is in "I'd dig".
    – stangdon
    Apr 22, 2018 at 13:44

2 Answers 2


For your first example:

It's a book (of) pictures.

The "of" here is almost completely inaudible. It sounds to me like it's pronounced as an unvoiced schwa sound, and it's impossible to distinguish it from the release of the /k/ sound.

But there are two ways to tell that the speaker isn't saying "it's a book pictures". First is the fact that the /k/ is released; if the speaker were saying "it's a book pictures", he would probably pronounce the /k/ as an unreleased stop. Second is the fact that "it's a book pictures" simply isn't a likely phrase in English.

For your second example:

It's not finish**(ed)** yet.

Once again, the /t/ here is really hard to hear. I'm not sure if the speaker is actually is actually stopping the air flow at all!

But still, what I hear is different from what it would sound like if the speaker were saying "finish yet". It sounds to me like the /ʃ/ sound in "finish" is shortened, and followed by a "constricted" sound, before the /j/ in "yet" begins. That "constricted" sound is how the /t/ is being spoken, even if it's not actually [t].

If the speaker were saying "finish yet", then this "constricted" sound would be gone, and the /ʃ/ sound would be longer.

For your third example:

I'(d) like that.

This time, I think there really is a [d] sound there, but it may be hard to hear because there's very little evidence that it's there: it's spoken very quickly and it has no audible release.

But what I can hear is that the sound gets noticeably quieter after the "I" of "I'd" is pronounced, and then it gets louder again as the "l" of "like" begins. If the speaker were saying "I like that", then the loudness would stay mostly even as the vowel "I" transitions into the consonant /l/. The vowel would probably also be a little bit longer.

For this one, the "quiet spot" in between the "I" sound and the /l/ is clearly visible in the spectrogram.


In all these cases the phoneme that you think is missing is present.

The first is quite clear. There is a sound.

I can hear the /d/ sound in the second and third examples, though it is reduced, and short.

In short you need to listen carefully.

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