To

How do you pronounce that word?

A pretty easy question, no? It’s the same as too, and two!

Well yes, but also no. Because of course it doesn’t always sound the same as too or two, does it? This probably won’t surprise you, especially if you’ve already read about how connected speech means we often use the schwa sound for vowel sounds in unstressed syllables. So usually, the word to sounds something like “tuh.”

Not always of course. If you put it at the end of a sentence, for example, it sounds like too, because the schwa is a pretty unimpressive sound to end a sentence with. Most of the time though, to isn’t emphasised in a sentence, so when we use the word, it doesn’t sound like too.

So why do we call it that then? Why not always call it “tuh?” It’s funny, isn’t it, how we can have an official “name,” or “pronunciation” of a word, even if it’s not how we always pronounce it when we actually use it. To is a fairly extreme example, but most words have slightly different sounds based on their context. There’s often quite a gap between the ideal, basic form a word, and how we use them, simply because so much of how we use language is unconscious.

If we always had to stop and decide how to pronounce to, or whether we should pronounce the D in and or not, we’d never get anywhere, would we?

2 thoughts on “To

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