Hi everyone, I've got a problem that neither my dictionaries nor the internet have solved. If I don't know how to pronounce those words, I can't read anything!!! Emotion: crying

Since I'm learning American English, I'd like an american point of view about this matter, though I think British pronunciation shouldn't be different.

So, here are some sentences ( /s/ is like the ss in "pass", /z/ is like the z in "zebra" )

1. Can I use your phone? /yooz/ should be right

2. This thing is used for killing people. /yoozd/ should be right

3. This thing is used to kill people. /yoozd to/ I hope so, but I'm not sure because of the "to"

4. I used to live in USA when I was 18. /yoost to/ shoud be right

5. Did you use to live in USA?? ??????? is it still with /s/ like just above, because of the same meaning??

6. I didn't use to live in Europe. ?????? again, with /s/ ??

7. I am used to eating snakes.(with salt and pepper, though) usually /yoost to/, sometimes /yoozd to/..... I hope so

Could anyone give me some advice? Thank you very very much in advance friends.Emotion: wink
Well maybe it's just me Emotion: wink, but I use the pronunciation "yoost" for cases 5-7. You are correct for 1-3--always the 'z' sound.
Thank goodness -- an easy question to answer!

to use something /yooz/ (verb) , i.e., to make use of something /yooss/ (noun)

1. Can I use your phone? /yooz/

2. This thing is used for killing people. /yoozd/

3. This thing is used to kill people. /yoozd too/


Past habits

4. I used to live in USA when I was 18. /yoostoo/

5. Did you use to live in USA?? /yoostoo/

6. I didn't use to live in Europe. /yoostoo/


be accustomed to doing something

7. I am used to eating snakes.(with salt and pepper, though) /yoostoo/ (always)

Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Thanks a lot for your help friends!!! I'll buy you all a beer! (when I'll come to US...)Emotion: wink
CalifJimThank goodness -- an easy question to answer!

...the difficult ones have yet to come!Emotion: smile

See you
i would recommend that you hear everybody speak and then you will know the difference between those.

"hear everybody speak"

That will be quite a task! How many millions of English speakers are there? Emotion: smile

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CalifJim already covered some stuff, but I want to add a little bit. I looked up "use" at Dictionary.com and "used to" at BBC.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/radio/specials/1346_gramchallenge15 /

I never say the "d" in "used to". What looks like "yoosehd-too" is really "yoostoo".

Pronunciation by meaning of "use"

"Use" (verb) is always "yooz".
  • I used it.
  • Does she use it?
  • She uses it.
  • He will use it.
"Use" (imperfect past, habitual) is always "yoos".
  • I used to do that.
  • You didn't use to do that.
  • Did you use to do that?
  • We did use to do that. (This emphasizes "Yes, we did use to do that." It sounds like "we" are trying to point out the fact we did that.)
"Use" (noun) is always "yoos".
  • She has a use.
  • A car's use is for transportation.
  • What use was that?
  • That has an important use.

    "Used to" (state) is always "yoos". It means that you know this thing well or that you find it familiar. If you're used to something, that something will never surprise you.
    • I'm used to it.
    • Are you used to speaking English?
    • She will be used to me.
    • She was used to me.
Then there are the verb phrases from Dictionary.com. I'm putting them here for clarity, though you could probably figure them out from the above usages.

  • use up (yooz)
  • have no use for (yoos)
  • make use of (yoos)
  • of no use (yoos)
  • put to use (yoos)

Pronounciation of "used to" (past imperfect) by sound and situation

In a New Englander's accent, the "to" becomes "tuh" in front of a consonant sound.
  • used to think (yoostuh)
  • used to talk (yoostuh)
  • didn't use to use (yoostuh, because of the "yooz")
It sounds like "two" in front of a vowel sound.
  • used to eat (yoostoo)
  • used to eye (yoostoo)
  • didn't use to attack (yoostoo)
Regardless of the following sound, if the speaker forgot what's next, is stalling, or speaking slowly, "used to" is always "yoostoo".
  • used to... run (yoostoo)
  • used... to... speak... up (yoostoo)
  • used to... eat (yoostoo)

Even if the fact that someone used to do something is being stressed, it's still based on the following verb. However, if the speaker is talking like a robot and is trying to get the point across by saying every word separately, then it's always "yoostoo". (That's a rude way of talking for native speakers. You only talk like that if you're a beginner in English or if you want to make the other person feel stupid.)

  • used to think (yoostuh)
  • used to eat (yoostoo)
  • USED. TO. TRY. (yoostoo)

If nothing follows "used to", it's always "yoostoo".

  • Did you use to drink Cola? (yoostuh)
  • No, I didn't use to. (yoostoo, even though "drink Cola" is implied)
  • She used to. (yoostoo)

Mind you, this is only for the particular accent I speak with in New England. If I were imitating a Southerner, gangster, or cowboy, I would always say "yoostuh" regardless of following sounds and situations. I think west-coast people might say "yoosteh". If I were mocking an British person, a prim-and-proper guy, or an Australian, I would always use "yoostoo" regardless of following sounds and situation. (If I were British or Australian, I think these rules still apply. Maybe.)

Maybe it's actually "yoostə", with that "schwa" thing, but it's hard to tell because the word "to" is said so fast all the time, and if a native speaker slows down on purpose, the vowel sound is changed to "too". I'm not a linguist - yet!

Some last things...

While typing this up, I thought of this sentence.

"I didn't use to attempt suicide."

  • If you didn't "yooz" to attempt suicide, it means you didn't use (an implied drug) to try to kill yourself. (Slang! If you "yooz" - like, "I use" or "He uses" - then it means you use some drug, at least in my high school. Look at http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=use for other slang meanings, some of which are inappropriate. Emotion: thinking)
  • If you didn't "yoos" to attempt suicide, it means that you in the past did not try to kill yourself habitually.

Honestly, though - if you've got an accent, many English speakers are used to foreigners and will understand even if you don't use "yoos"/"yooz" or "yoostuh"/"yoostoo" correctly. This is a really subtle thing, so don't sweat it unless you're a spy and have to have a perfect accent. Emotion: wink

Also, I'm only a high schooler, so you might want to take this all with a grain of salt. But even so, this is how I talk and how the people around me talk.

~ Sarruby
Yes, the pronunciation of the 's' is different between "use" and "used to".

'Use' (the verb) is pronounced with a /z/ sound. I use mint toothpaste. / That machine is used to make holes in paper. (this last example is in the present passive)

"Used to" (the form for speaking about things from the past that are different now) is pronounced with an /s/ sound.
I used to play guitar in a band. / I didn't use to like spinach. / Did you used to wear glasses?

"be/get used to" is pronounced with an /s/ sound.
Are you used to the weather here? / You'll get used to the accent here after a few weeks.