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How to Speak Casual English: Reducing "That"

Speak the full short A sound in "that" when using "that" in a short phrase or emphasizing it. Reduce the A to a short E sound, as in "thet" if it is part of a long phrase or not emphasized. Notice that you can still use the T + Y rule when "that" is reduced. Review the rules for casual speech.

In the conversation below, the phrases in which "that" would often be emphasized are underlined. If "that" is in bold, it would likely be reduced. Please remember that emphasis is situational--there is no perfect way to do it.

Ed: I didn't know that you were planning to go to community college.

Wes: I think that community colleges are good these days.

Ed: I don't know. I think that you'd be better off at a university.

Wes: Well, I've already paid my tuition for a full quarter, that's that. I'm definitely going to community college next year. If it doesn't work out, I can transfer after the first semester.

Ed: O.K. If that's what you want. No matter what, you will transfer before you graduate, right? That way, you will have a university name on your resumé.

Wes: Yeah. That's what I'm planning. I'll go to that local community college, and if I like it, I'll stay for three years and then transfer.

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