When I pronounce the question: "What do you want to do?", I hear some stress on the first syllable of "whaddya" and "wanna" and a bit stronger stress on "do". This is how I pronounce it: https://clyp.it/tz2dwr42 I'm not sure if I pronounce it correctly or not. Maybe a native American could give me a feedback on pronunciation and intonation. Thank you very much!

  • 2
    That's a perfectly fine way to place the stresses. But if you put the strongest stress on "wanna" or "whaddya" or "you", it's not wrong; it just carries a slightly different shade of meaning. Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 15:37
  • Like many sentences, the "right" stresses depend on what you want it to mean. I can see a case for the stress to be on any word in this sentence, except for the penultimate word, "to". In its most natural form, I suppose the "what" is the word that I personally would give slightly more stress to. Hope that helps :)
    – ne1410s
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 20:46
  • You can find many examples of English connected speech (especially the shwa sound) at learningbritishaccent.blogspot.com. This free site has many audio clips and video examples of connected speech. This site can answer your question much better than a verbal discussion of stress or intonation.
    – user3847
    Commented Apr 5, 2015 at 3:46

1 Answer 1


Perfectly good pronunciation, and, yes, typical stress. Particularly if there is no prior context. (You walk up to your friend and start out with "Whaddya wanna do?)

But if you were responding to someone who had just said "I don't want to do THAT", you might sound out almost all the words, and stress especially the first "do":

  • What DO you {want to/wanna} do?

If you are responding to someone who said "They want to do [x] , but that doesn't sound like any fun." you might sound out, and stress, "you":

  • Whadda YOU wanna do?

If you had just suggested one or more activities, and the friend declined any of them, you might stress "wanna":

  • Whaddya WANna do?

If your mom comes in your room and sees you lazing around diing nothing, as usual, she might ask, accusingly and rhetorically:

  • Whaddya {wanna/gonna} DO with your life?

But If you are teaching about time management/planning, you might say to your students:

"Ask yourself three questions...

  • WHAT d'ya wanna DO?

  • HOW're ya gonna DO it?

  • WHEN're ya gonna DO it?

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