Intrusive Sounds (When Sounds are Added)

Intrusive sounds are a feature of connected speech.  What does intrusion mean?  This phenomenon happens in American English when we say two words one after the other and add an extra sound between them to make them easier to say. 


Intrusive sounds when linking two vowels:  

If one word ends with a vowel and the next word begins with a vowel, there should not be a pause between the words. To accomplish this, for a smoother transition between the vowels, we insert the intrusive sounds y and w between the two vowels.  More specifically, this means we add a short y (/j/) sound after a front vowel (like /eɪ/, /i/, and /ai/) and a short w sound after a back vowel (like /ʊ/ and /oʊ/).


Intrusive /w/ sound: 

  • Pronounce go over as  “go-wover” 
  • Pronounce How are you? as  “how-warr you”

Intrusive /j/ (y) sound 

  • Pronounce I ate as “I yate” 
  • Pronounce he is as “he yis”

For example:


  1. We yate in.          5. May yI go now?
  2. Go won.               6. That’s so wamazing!
  3. They yallow it.    7. We’ll buy yit!
  4. You know wit.     8. She yate out.


Need help?

Check out these other articles on how to connect your speech more naturally when speaking English:

Would you like a little more coaching on using intrusive sounds to make your pronunciation sound more natural? To learn more about English pronunciation and practice it in conversation, join SpeakUp, a dynamic program that engages you in authentic conversations on relevant topics and provides you with feedback from a professional experienced English teacher. The first week is free for you to try it out!  


Anita Collins

Anita Collins

Anita is a long-time English teacher and language enthusiast from Canada, currently living in the multilingual city of Montreal. She majored in linguistics, dabbled in translation, and has been teaching students from all over the world for over a decade. She now spends each morning trying to balance her two loves: planning the next trip and spoiling her beagle. The rest of her day she spends on curriculum design and language classes, with the beagle underfoot.
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