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Why Don't I Hear Words Correctly?

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Question: Why do I hear many Spanish words different than what is spoken? For example, I hear deste but the words are actually de este.

Forum answer: You hear deste because that's what they say. Just like in English, words are not uttered as separate units but run together in a phrase. You don't say, "Why .. do .. not .. you .. tell .. me" but "Whydonchootellme." So ¿Cómo está usted? very naturally comes out ¿Cómwestáoosté? ...

I like the suggestion of listening to newscasts. They still run their words together but tend to speak more distinctly and don't slur things so much.

Comment: The technical name for what's happening here is elision — the omission of sounds as words are combined into phrases and sentences. As common as it is in English to run words together, it is even more common in Spanish. In normal conversation, there is no way to tell the difference between deste and de este, nor between el lado and helado, nor between ha abierto and abierto, nor between he visto un peso and evistoumpeso. That's probably the main factor that makes understanding conversation so difficult for some learners, even for those who can read with near fluency.

Note: This question and answer were adapted from a discussion on the bulletin board. To read the original discussion, go here.

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