Pronunciation Reduction Can
He can hit the ball.
Can is a helping(auxiliary) verb which also makes it a function word. As with most function words it is reduced in the sentence. The reduction is either to a k with a schwa sound, or just a kn sound. Either way, the sound is reduced and pronounced quickly. Say kun three times. Say kn three times. Like some of the other words, the difference in the way that it is pronounced is up to the native English speaker. Many people in the southern US will pronounce it as kun. Look at these two examples:
- I kun come on over. I kun cum n over. (Southern)
- I kn come over. I kun cum on over. (Northern and other parts of US, but not all)
This is one of the things that makes learning English so difficult. Here are a few more examples of the reduction of can:
- I kn help.
- She kn work on it with me.
- They kn come over later.
- He kn really hit the ball!
- How kn he do that?
- I kn pass the test.
Exceptions When Can Is Not Reduced
Notice that can is also a noun or a main verb, depending on how it is being used. In those cases the sound is not reduced since it works as a function word. Instead, can is produced with an a sound in the middle, surround by a k and n sound. Also, when it is contracted as can’t, it is in the negative form, which is also treated as a content word. Here are a few examples of the pronunciation of can as a content word:
- Yes, he kan.
- Get the kan.
- No, they kan’t.
- Get the garbage kan.