I like watching movies with English subtitles and I totally have no idea how fast some things are being said sometimes. I mean I miss some words like can, could, did. And I can swear they are not being pronounced at all.

For example the subtitle for this audio (https://voca.ro/eJyglMirQXd) was: How much did those guys leave you?

But the only thing I hear is: How much those guys leave you?

I can't hear any "did" in that sentence. Is this common like saying "you ready?" instead of "are you ready?"

Another example. https://voca.ro/gGbBSIPFBIX

According to the subtitles she is saying: "I don't want our kids growing up thinking meat comes from a store wrapped in plastic."

What I hear is: want our kids growing up thinking meat comes from a store wrapped in plastic.

I don't hear any "I" or "don't" in that sentence, that's for sure. And this happens so many times. So how am I supposed to "fill in those blanks"?

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    There is some weird noise in the second example where "I don't" should be. Is there a problem with the audio recording / editing? (But you are right about the firs texample and that it is a colloquialism) Aug 26, 2020 at 12:30
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    Most likely in both these specific cases the speaker isn't deliberately "deleting" those "missing" words - they're just not very explicitly articulated. But clever voice analysis would almost certainly show that at least some elements of those sounds (AND associated mouth / lip / tongue / air movements) are in fact present. And because native speakers expect them, we just fill them in ourselves even if we didn't actually hear them clearly. IMHO, many speakers in many contexts articulate no more clearly than is essential in order to be understood (when not teaching English! :) Aug 26, 2020 at 12:37
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    (In many other contexts, native speakers may be perfectly well aware that they're not bothering to articulate certain "100% predictable" elements. But defining those contexts would be a Sisyphean task.) Aug 26, 2020 at 12:41
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    AE speaker here. I usually watch Grey's Anatomy with the subtitles off. But when Patrick Dempsey (who plays Derek Shepherd) speaks, I have to turn subtitles on. I just can't understand him when he mumbles.
    – rajah9
    Aug 26, 2020 at 13:40
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    Beyond the laziness of the speaker, I view dropping the obvious as honoring the intelligence of the listener. Aug 26, 2020 at 13:44

3 Answers 3


It's a very soft 'd' that's kinda merged into the 'th'

How much d'those guys leave you?

The second has the don't turn into just its 'n'.

I'n want our kids ....


They do pronounce all the words. It's just they're reduced to basically non-existent because English doesn't put equal emphasis on all the syllables like Japanese or Chinese does. Some words are not as important and they don't get as much emphasis.

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    This is right. English is a stress-timed language in which the key words (typically nouns, pronouns, verbs or adjectives) are stressed. And the intervening words (typically articles, prepositions, etc.) get shortened and weakened ('swallowed'). English contrasts with French or Hindi, for example, which are syllable-timed languages. There is a Wikipedia article on this with the title Isochrony: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isochrony
    – Shoe
    Aug 26, 2020 at 16:48

The first is very difficult to make out and I'm a native speaker of English. The speaker is American and I'm British. At first hearing I wasn't even certain that she was speaking in English!

The second I hear as "What are kids growing up ...". This isn't strictly grammatically correct but a lot of conversational speech isn't.

Note that context is very important in English. If we were to hear more of the conversation it would be much easier to hear what was said.

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