Contracting Words with ‘Of’ – English Speech Habits

a pink neon question mark in a box down a dark hallway, doubts about contracting words with 'of' in English speech
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In English, like in any language, we speakers have some funny habits when it comes to using the language. Hey, at least it adds some character, am I right? Today I want to dwell a bit on this thing we do when we contract a quantifier word with the word “of”. This is similar to what happens when we combine “want to (wanna).” But first thing’s first; what in the Anglo-ing world is a quantifier?? Well, quantifiers are words that indicate a quantity (no, really!) or in other words, an amount of something. 

Contracting Quantifiers with ‘Of’

Some examples of this are: a little, a lot, many, some, a few

Read more about the types of quantifiers:

When describing an amount (or quantity) of something, some of these words are followed by “of.” 

  • a lot of cake; some of the cake; a bit of cake

Keep in mind, this is not all the time. Many quantifiers and some of their uses don’t have an “of” after them. 

  • some cake; a few cakes; many cakes

*“Some cake” and “some of the cake” can mean the same thing. Although, usually “some of the cake” sounds more specific (a piece of a specific cake) while “some cake” sounds more general (a piece of any cake)

When there is an “of” behind those quantifiers that need it, some speakers have a habit of combining the quantifier word with “of.” In this way, it forms a contraction. 

  • There’s a lotta cake left in the fridge. (a lot of)
  • Do you want to take home somma this cake? (some of)

This is more common in speech and when people are talking quickly. This habit is not a rule though, and these words are almost never spelled in the contracted way except in very informal text. It is also not universal and not everyone has this habit. Still, it is fairly common and a good thing to be aware of, say, when you talk with native speakers or watch TV. 

This plays into the larger trend of changing short words with the “shwa” sound (uh, like ‘of’, ‘to’, ‘the’) and just contracting them with a bigger word.

The most popular one of these you’ll notice in day-to-day speech will most likely be kinda. As a quantifier, it has about the same meaning as “somewhat” or “a little bit.”


Examples

Here are some other common instances of contracting quantifiers with “of.”

a bunch of

  • They’re a buncha sore losers. (They’re a bunch of sore losers.)

some of

  • Do you want somma my fries? (Do you want some of my fries?)

kind of (used as a quantity)

  • I kinda like him. (I kind of like him.)

a couple of

  • They’re just a coupla / couple’a guys hanging out. (They’re just a couple of guys hanging out.)

enough of

  • Okay, I’ve had enough’a this. (Okay, I’ve had enough of this.)

all of

  • Oh no! All’a / all’o the food is gone. (Oh no! All of the food is gone.)

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Contracting verbs with “to”, Wanna, Gonna, Hadda & more – Speaking Habits

a pink neon question mark in a box down a dark hallway, asking questions without auxiliary in English

There’s a dirty habit that English speakers have … okay, it’s not that terrible. Still, when many people speak, they have a habit of contracting certain verbs if they come before the word “to.” These verbs usually stand ahead of another verb that is in its infinitive form, which is the most basic (e.g. to love, to go, to see). Here, I’m talking about the verb that comes before these infinitive forms. Read some examples to see what I mean:

Examples – connecting verbs with “to”

  • I wanna help you.

(“Want to” might get fused together, so this sounds more like, “wanna”)

  • You hadda say that, didn’t you?

(You had to say that, didn’t you?)

  • You hafta help me, please!

(You have to help me, please!)

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Or, do you want more info? Look at this article on RealLifeGlobal.com along with the video below.

http://reallifeglobal.com/.

This might happen because the word “to” is normally pronounced as a “shwa” or a short “uh” sound. When people are speaking, it can be a drag to pronounce every letter and word. So, they get bunched together and form into a new word. It’s similar to how “would have” can turn into “would’ve.”

One thing to remember is that this fusing the verbs before “to” doesn’t work all the time. You might have to pay attention to which words this is used most commonly. Also, unlike with “would’ve,” hafta, wanna, and hadda are just how these words are pronounced in speech. They aren’t proper English, though, so you shouldn’t write these words on a paper or test (but they’re fine in text messages or social media).

Some other noteworthy examples of these contractions I’m sure you’ve all heard before are gonna and gotta.

More examples

  • They’ve gotta be kidding.

(They’ve got to be kidding.)

  • No one told you what’s gonna happen?

(No one told you what’s going to happen?)

  • She hasta help her mom first.

(She has to help her mom first.)

Thank you all for reading! I hope you learned something. Read the Blog for other posts like this about English habits. Go ahead and share a comment with us if you’ve heard this habit before. And as always, take care out there. Peace! ☮️