Haley found the remark disrespectful and felt she couldn't keep quiet, the sources said.

I heard someone read this, and I can hardly hear "the" between "found" and "remark".

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    The reason you can hardly hear "the" between "found" and "remark" is because in many relaxed casual speech contexts it's hardly there - the vowel itself would often be reduced to an almost inaudible schwa (neutral vowel). Note that in your exact context, all native speakers (and listeners) would "know" the article was present because it's syntactically necessary. On the other hand, if I were to say I found the three things you were looking for, the article might or might not be present, so even native speakers might not be certain whether I'd actually enunciated it or not. – FumbleFingers Apr 19 at 12:03
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    @FumbleFingers: however, while I found three things and I found the three things are both grammatical, they are not synonymous. The first implies that there was an unspecified number of things you were looking for (and you found 3 on the list), the second implies that you found those the precise three things you were looking for. – poncho Apr 19 at 13:43
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    @poncho: Exactly my point! If the person I was speaking to was actually looking for four things, he might be uncertain as to whether I mistakenly thought I was only trying to find three anyway, and had prematurely given up the hunt. He might therefore have to check with something like What about [thing4]? You do realise I'm looking for that too, don't you? – FumbleFingers Apr 19 at 15:10
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    Many non-native speakers have trouble ending on a consonant, and will pronounce 'found' as 'found-uh' - which is exactly how a native speaker would pronounce 'found the'. Perhaps you heard 'found-uh remark' and interpreted it as 'found remark' instead of 'found the remark'? – Sanchises Apr 20 at 14:20
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    @SmartHumanism I'd rather say that the 'd' of 'found' disappears, although when speaking quickly it may not make much of a difference. Either way, the 'd' and 'ð' definitely blend into a single consonant. – Sanchises Apr 26 at 6:41

12 Answers 12

up vote 68 down vote accepted

*"Haley found remark disrespectful" is ungrammatical, so you'd be unlikely to hear a native speaker say it.

What you're likely hearing is the "the" being reduced, likely with almost no vowel sound. Sometimes the "th" might sound more like a "d", as well.

e.g., a native speaker might pronounce it like either of the following, in casual speech:

Haley found th' remark disrespectful

Haley found d' remark disrespectful

In such cases, I'd often expect the first "e" in "remark" and/or "disrespectful" to be heavily reduced, as well.

In extreme cases, you might even get the "d" in "found" dropped, so under the right circumstance, you could have a pronunciation which sounds like:

Haley foun' d'remark disr'spectful

Where "d'remark" would be "the remark" in well-enunciated speech, and "foun'" would be "found".

  • Yes, it's ungrammatical. I was practice my Enlgish-listening when I heard that. I also found it was strange, and couldn't understand the sentence. I replayed it many times, counldn't figure it out. Then, I looked up the sentence, That I found there was a "the". – 马化腾 Apr 20 at 0:24
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    I think it's worth pointing out that the reduced "the" is probably enhanced by the final "d" in found. The tongue doesn't have to move far to turn a "d" into a "th", so it's easy to chain "found" and "the" -- in fact that pair is probably most often pronounced "foun the". Try this with "blame the receptionist" -- the "the" will be perfectly audible. – BallpointBen Apr 20 at 5:07
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    It might help the asker to mention that quiet, short pronunciation of “the” is quite common. They are likely to encounter this again. – Todd Wilcox Apr 20 at 14:07
  • Your last one is fairly extreme, but apparently I do part of that: "Foun' the remark", I don't blend "the" into "remark". – Izkata Apr 22 at 17:15
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    @SmartHumanism No. "Found [th]e" would be pronounced as "found a", which would be interpreted as in e.g., "I found a dollar on the ground". You need to pronounce the "th" so that it's understood as "found the" instead of "found a". – BallpointBen Apr 26 at 20:11

I'm a native English speaker, and we do say the "The"

It's true that if you are speaking quickly it will all get blended together, but we definitely don't omit it.

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    Yes The the dental [d] at the end of "found" will blend with the dental fricative of "the", and the vowel sound is a schwa, so pretty minimal already. – James K Apr 19 at 11:10
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    Yeah, it's definitely possible to come out like "Haley founthuhremark" but the "the" is still there – rococo Apr 19 at 18:07
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    And, native speakers will often be happy to formally correct and/or enunciate clearer when misunderstood. While it might sound like "Haley foun-der-mark" and that's what they are saying, if asked, most will slow down and enunciate every syllable of each word, going back to what would be written and then say "Haley... found ... the... remark". – MikeP Apr 20 at 22:42

In my dialect (British, West Midlands), it actually comes out as:

"Hayley foun' the remark disrespectful."

The D in found is very, very heavily reduced in this sentence. In fact, forcing myself to enunciate the D as well as the "The" seems really unnatural. Perhaps this is why a non-native speaker could miss the different sounds?

But regardless, the grammatically correct sentence definitely includes the "the" and I can't imagine somebody omitting the word fully even in casual speech.

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    Yes, the British accent is more clearly. But, unfortunately, by watching so many American TV series, and moives. I'm just accustomed to the American English. DX – 马化腾 Apr 20 at 0:20
  • It's required because the most likely correct alternative is "a remark", a very different thing. I suggest that's why you're uncomfortable with leaving out the article altogether. – Aethelbald Apr 20 at 19:30
  • "Trouble at mill"... (no apostrophe) Yorkshire might drop it. Strine (Aus) would blend it "Garna footy Sadee?" for "Are you going to the football on Saturday ?" "found the remark" as "founder a mark" unless delivered at a word by word pace. – mckenzm Apr 21 at 1:31
  • American English here. I pronounce it the same way. – wchargin Apr 22 at 21:17

Native speakers don't "omit" the entire word, but many of them will strongly de-emphasize the vowel sound in the and essentially merge it with the start of the next word. It's not quite an elision of the syllable, because you can still hear it, but it's very fast and nearly omitted.

Typically this happens if the following word starts with an unstressed syllable. For example, a native speaker would likely sound like they were saying:

I found the entire exchange disrespectful.

or:

I found the statement disrespectful.

but:

I found th'remark disrespectful.

Others have already given good answers, but for what it is worth, I'm an U.S. speaker and would naturally say

"Haley foun' the remark disrespectful"

just like @Psiloc mentioned. But I would guess many Americans would also say

"Haley foun da remark disrespectful"

where "the" almost sounds like "da" attached to "found".

  • Might even come out as blended as "founder mark" when said fast. Though ask most Americans to slow down, they will enunciate every syllable and word, and enunciate "the". – MikeP Apr 20 at 22:44

To add to the dialect versions, northern English dialects will often pronounce "the remark" as "ut-remark" with a glottal stop (spelled "t'remark" if you want to write it down). This is very easy to mishear.

It's standard for Yorkshire, parts of Lancashire, and parts of Derbyshire. You won't hear it further south, and when you get further north (up into Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyneside) then you have different accents again which also don't do this.

We definitely say it. As other answers have pointed out, the 'd' and the 'th' can get blended together, and the 'e' doesn't have much emphasis on it. But you can always hear the syllable, no matter how mangled the pronunciation is. Put simply, no matter how fast we're speaking, it takes us longer to say "found the remark" than "found remark".

  • The presence of the extra syllable does not really force the whole phrase to take longer, English being a stress-timed language. – Emil Jeřábek Apr 19 at 16:09
  • You can tell me about stress-timed languages all day, and I still won't be able to say "found the remark" faster than "found remark". – LastStar007 Apr 19 at 16:54
  • I didn’t say faster. I said that it may well be the same length. – Emil Jeřábek Apr 19 at 17:16
  • All right, damn you: You can tell me about stress-timed languages all day and I still won't be able to say "found the remark" as fast as "found remark". – LastStar007 Apr 19 at 17:18

It's been obliquely mentioned a few times here, but I thought it might be worth spelling out:

Not only is the reduced to th' when a native-speaker says this, but found is also reduced to foun'. A native-speaker will typically pronounce the D on "found" only if the following word begins with a vowel.

So when you're listening, you're merging foun' with th' to make something like founth (which sounds very much like found), and therefore it sounds to you like there is no the.

A native speaker would pronounce "found remark" as "foun' remark", and there would be no d/th sound between the words.

  • 1
    Mostly right but I think the final sentence is wholly wrong. When speaking, the 'd' sound might get pushed onto the second word but it wouldn't be dropped. – user5505 Apr 22 at 8:41

What you are hearing as the end of "found" it actually the "the". The part that most likely is being omitted is the 'd' in "found". Like "foun the remark"

In my dialect (mid-southern american) we tend to pronounce it like "found th'remark".

Subtle differences in the sounds formed are not necessarily conveyed to the listener. Try this test:

Choose a quiet place and native speaker. Speak the word facts then the word fax.

I tried this and my mouth formed the two words differently, but the listener could not hear the difference.

So although I would pronounce the phrase foun' d-th' remark, the listener will not hear the subtle changes the mouth makes switching from d to th.

No, the word "the" would not be omitted in that phrase. It sounds like they were just speaking quickly.

  • You downvoters aren't native English speakers, are you? – Spencer Williams Apr 24 at 19:25

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