1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Gonna and Wanna

Informal American English Pronunciation

By

Two female friends having dinner
Portra Images/ Taxi/ Getty Images

Wanna and gonna are two examples of informal spoken American English. Wanna means 'want to', and gonna means 'going to'. You can hear these phrases in movies, pop music and other forms of entertainment. However, you will not hear these forms in more formal shows such as the news.

These two expressions are not generally used in written English, but in spoken English. Wanna and gonna are examples of reductions. Reductions are short, commonly used phrases that are spoken quickly. These reductions tend to be used for function words such as auxiliary verbs and questions words. It is important to remember that there are important differences in American English and British English pronunciation. British English also has its own exceptions in pronunciation. This page focuses only on American English pronunciation and reductions such as wanna and gonna.

There are different views on whether students should use this type of pronunciation. In my opinion, students who live in North America should at least be familiar with these forms as they will hear them everyday. If students decide to use this pronunciation, they should remember that it is appropriate only for informal spoken English and should not be used (except for texting, perhaps) in written English.

Reductions in Questions

The most common reductions are found at the beginning of questions. Here's a list of important reductions with the pronunciation written out to help you learn to recognize them in everyday American English. To begin with, listen to this reduction pronunciation sound file of the most common questions.

Are you ...? = arya
Can you ...? = kinya
Could you ...? = kudja
Would you ...? = wudja
Did you ...? = didja
Do you ...? = doja
Don't you ...? = doncha
Will you ...? = wilja
Do you want to ...? = doyawanna
Are you going to ...? = aryagonna
Do you have to ...? = dijahafta

Focus on the Main Verb

If you choose to use reductions in your use of American English, it is important to focus on the main verb in the question to correctly pronounce using reductions. In other words, we quickly speak over the reduced forms (are you, could you, etc.) and stress the main verb. Listen to these example reduced questions to hear the how the main verb is stressed.

Are you ...? = arya

Are you enjoying yourself?
Are you going to help me tonight?

Can you ...? = kinya

Can you say that again?
Can you understand me?

Could you ...? = kudja

Could you help me?
Could you visit next month?

Would you ...? = wudja

Would you like to have dinner?
Would you answer my question?

Did you ...? = didja

Did you see him?
Did you buy it?

Do you ...? = dija

Do you play tennis?
Do you eat fish?

Don't you ...? = doncha

Don't you love it?
Don't you understand?

Will you ...? = wilja

Will you come with me?
Will you finish tonight?

Do you want to ...? = diyawanna

Do you want to have fun?
Do you want to eat out?

Are you going to ...? = aryagonna

Are you going to leave?
Are you going to have lunch?

Do you have to ...? = dijahafta

Do you have to stay?
Do you have to work today?

Gotta and Wanna

Two of the most common reductions are gotta and wanna. Gotta is the reduction of got to. It's rather strange because its use means have to. In other words, in informal American English "I got to get up early." means "I have to get up early." This is then further reduced to "I gotta get up early." Wanna means want to and is used to indicate the desire to do something. For example, "I wanna go home." means "I want to go home." A synonymous expression is also "I would like to go home." However, this form is much more formal.

  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. English as 2nd Language
  4. Pronunciation - Speaking
  5. Small Talk
  6. Gonna and Wanna

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.