In this video, we’re going to look at how AUXILIARY VERBS contract in questions.

If the AUXILIARY VERB is the first word in the question, obviously there is no word before it to contract it onto. Don’t contract it.

If it isn’t the first word in the sentence, contract it onto the previous word, whatever that word is.

Let’s go through some examples.

What am I meant to say? – What am I meant to say?
wɔt æm ɑe ment tə sæɪ – wɔɽ‿əm ɑe men[t]‿tə sæɪ

Where are you going? – Where’re you going?
weːr ɐː jʉː ˈgəʉɪŋ? – ˈweːɽ‿ə jə ˈgəʉən

Why is it a problem? – Why’s it a problem?
wɑe ɪz ɪt ɐ ˈprɔbləm – wɑez‿ɪɽ‿ə ˈprɔbləm

How has she been? – How’s she been?
hæɔ hæz ʃiː biːn – hæɔ[z]‿ʃiː biːn

Which have you chosen? – Which’ve you chosen?
wɪʧ hæv jʉː ˈʧəʉzn – wɪʧ‿əv jʉː ˈʧəʉzn

When had they walked off? – When’d they walked off?
wen hæd ðæɪ woːkd‿ɔf? – wenə[d]‿ðæɪ woːkd‿ɔf?

What could I have done? – What could I’ve done?
wɔt kʊd ɑe hæv dɐn? – wɔ[t]‿kʊɽ‿ɑe‿əv dɐn?

Would it have mattered? – Would it’ve mattered?
wʊd ɪt hæv ˈmætəd? – wʊɽ‿ɪɽə(v)‿ˈmætəd?

When should we have left? – When should we’ve left?
wen ʃʊd wiː hæv left? – wen ʃʊd wiː‿ə(v)‿left?

May we have forgotten? – May we’ve forgotten?
mæɪ wiː hæv fəˈgɔtn? – mæɪ wiː‿ə(v)‿fəˈgɔ[t]n?

Might they have eaten it? – Might they’ve eaten it?
mɑet ðæɪ hæv ˈiːtn ɪt – mɑe[t]‿ðæɪ‿əv‿ˈiː[t]n‿ɪ[t]

Who must he have helped? – Who must he’ve helped?
hʉː mɐst hiː hæv helpt – hʉː mɐst‿(h)iː‿əv‿[h]elpt

Shall I have achieved anything? – Shall I’ve achieved anything?
ʃæl ɑe hæv əˈʧiːvd ˈenɪθɪŋ – ʃæl‿ɑe‿əv‿əˈʧiːvd‿ˈenɪθɪŋ

Will it have occurred by then? – Will it’ve occurred by then?
wɪl ɪt hæv əˈkɜːd bɑe ðen – wɪl‿ɪɽəv‿əˈkɜː[d]‿bɑe ðen

Note: in these examples, for the words HAD and HAVE you’re going to hear the schwa /ə/ in there before the /d/ and the /v/ sounds. And this is opposed to when these words HAVE and HAD are contracted onto pronouns and they’re just the /v/ and /d/ sound.

So, you’ll hear that difference, for example:

I have tried – I’ve tried
ɑe hæv trɑed – ɑe‿v trɑed

What will I have tried? – What will I’ve tried?
wɔt wɪl ɑe hæv trɑed – wɔ[t] wɪl‿ɑe‿əv trɑed

It sounds weird to say:

What will I’ve tried?
wɔt wɪl ɑe‿v trɑed –> wɔ[t] wɪl‿ɑe‿əv trɑed

You had learnt it – You’d learnt it
jʉː hæd lɜːnt ɪt – jʉː‿d lɜːnt‿ət

When had you learnt it – When’d you learn it?
wen hæd jʉː lɜːnt‿ət – wen‿əd jʉː lɜːnt‿ət

This may seem confusing, guys, but it just takes time and practice and these subtle differences help us understand which contracted word it is that’s being contracted, okay? That’s why we have these rules.