SKILL FOCUS | Pronunciation: Weak and strong forms

Some words have two pronunciations: a strong form and a weak form. In normal speech,
we usually use the weak form as in the sentences below.


Activity 1

Look at sentences 1-5, and identify the prepositions.


1 Can I have a cup of tea?
2 We met at uni.
3 I’ve known him for ten years.
4 I’m from Dubai.
5 It’s quarter to ten.


Do you know the weak forms of the prepositions in the sentences above? Listen and repeat, taking
care not to stress the weak forms.

Exam tip: If you use weak forms correctly, you will be more fluent and you will sound more like a native speaker. This will get you higher marks in the exam. Knowing about weak forms will also help you understand the examiner more easily; t is easy to miss weak forms because they are unstressed.

Sometimes, even in fast speech, we use the strong form of a word:

a if we want to emphasise it, or contrast it with another word
b if it comes before a pause
c if it comes at the end of a sentence


Activity 2

Listen to sentences 1-4. Are the prepositions strong or weak? If they are strong, give a
reason from the list a-c above.

1  Has she been waiting for long? _____ _
2 What are you looking at? _____ _
3 The present’s not from Mark, it’s for Mark. _____ _
4 I want to go! _____ _

Now check your answers, Then repeat the sentences.

Exam tip: Other function words [or grammatical words] also have weak forms. Some common ones are:
• positive auxiliary verbs [e.g. can, must, do, shall, was, are]
• pronouns [e.g. her, you, them, your]
• conjunctions [e.g. and, but, because {‘cos}, than]
• articles [the, a, an]
A good dictionary will give you guidance on strong and weak pronunciations. Practise using weak forms by saying sentences that have prepositions in them.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top

Get in touch!

Centru Partener IELTS


Suntem Centru Partener IELTS (limba engleză) prin parteneriatul dezvoltat cu EUROPEAN EXAMINATIONS CENTRE din București (EECentre).




Absolvirea testului IELTS oferă cele mai prestigioase certificate pentru cei ce studiază limba engleză; fiind folosite în peste 130 de țări și recunoscute de peste 10.000 universități și angajatori pe plan internațional. 


Eliberare rezultat și certificate: 3-5 zile (de la data susținerii testului)


Termen valabilitate certificat: 2 ani (de la data susținerii testului)






EUROPEAN EXAMINATIONS CENTRE – EECentre este o instituție autorizată de prestigioase organisme internaționale de învățământ să furnizeze în Romania, examene de certificare a cunoștintelor de limba engleză (IELTS, CAMBRIDGE, LINGUASKILL, TRINITY) și limba germană (ÖSD), conform procedurilor internaționale, în condiții și la standarde de calitate identice cu orice alt centru de examinare din Europa, America, Asia.