The Secret to Understanding Canadians

Sometimes my students tell me that Canadians can be difficult to understand. When we speak naturally, like in conversation we don’t pronounce every part of a word or syllable. Sometimes the words bump into each other or the word sounds change. These changes are called connected speech or connect discourse. Canadians can be quite predictable in their use of connected speech. In this lesson, we will explore two ways in which Canadians use connected speech.


Canadians tend to change the pronunciation of some letters within specific words.

T sound becomes a D

In many words, the T sound will shift to a D

Butter will sound like “bud-der”
Arctic will sound like “arc-dic“
Patio will sound like “pad-io”

D is pronounced like a J or soft G

“Did you eat yet?” sounds like “Jeet jet?”
“Do you want to go?” sounds like “Gwanna go?”

Deletion of a after an N

This is also known as elision. This is when a sound disappears, in many chances in Canadian

Winter sounds like “win-ner“
Centre sounds like “cen-ner”
Twenty sounds like “twenny“
International sounds like “innernational“

Dropping Syllables

For instance (3 syllables) becomes “frins-stance” (2 syllables)
Immigrant (3 syllables) becomes “imm-grant” (2 syllables)
American (4 syllables) becomes “Mare-can” (2 syllables)Lack of Descriptive Adjectives

Lack of Descriptive Adjectives

Canadians do not use a lot of descriptive adjectives in their everyday speech.

Canadians will say “not bad” when they mean good, “not good” when something is bad, and “not too bad” when something is fair.

America- great or terrific
UK- awfully good or awfully well
Canada- not bad
America- okay
UK- fair
Canada- not too bad
American- lousy or terrible
UK– awfully bad or poor
Canada- not too good


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