Neologisms in The English Language - Wanna, Gonna, Gotta

english phrases short video lessons vocabulary Aug 09, 2021
neologisms in the english language

 The English language is always reinventing itself.  It has changed a lot from Shakespearean days and it’s still evolving today.  New ideas, new concepts, and new terminology need to be explained, so  the English language invents, or re-invents, language to explain them.


What Are Neologisms in The English Language?

Neologisms are words that are created to explain new ideas.  Neologisms are formed by borrowing words or mixing existing words to talk about new concepts.  They can be made of words in English, words from other languages, or by adding a prefix or suffix that best suits the new concept.  


A great example is ‘webinar.’  This word comes from blending ‘web’ and ‘seminar’ to describe a seminar that takes place on the internet.  This is a new concept that has never existed before the 21st century, so English speakers used what they already know to describe something new.


What Are The Main Types of Neologisms?

Neologisms come in different forms but they can be separated into three main types.  We can borrow words from other languages, form new words by blending two together or add a prefix or a suffix to change the form of the existing word. 


A new word may be adopted from another language.  For example, the word ‘cafe’ is the word for ‘coffee’ in many different parts of the world.  ‘Wanderlust’, ‘cartoon’, and ‘loot’ are other words that have been taken from other languages and are commonly used in English.


Common blended words to form new words include:

Breakfast + lunch = brunch

Hungry + angry = hangry 

Chill + relax = chillax

Confused + puzzled = confuzzled

Smoke + fog = smog


And it’s common to add the suffix -er to a verb or a noun to describe a person in that area or profession.

For example:

Instagram = Instagrammar

Blog = Blogger

Influence = Influencer

Facebook = Facebooker


What Is An Example of Neologism?

‘Cyberspace’, ‘staycation’ and ‘skort’ are some of the common neologisms in English.  They have been formed by combining two separate concepts.  They explain an idea that didn’t have its own word.  The concept of ‘cyberspace’ is relatively new so a new word needed to be created to describe it.


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What is The Concept of Neologism?

Neologisms take a while to become integrated into the English language.  They usually make their way into the dictionary when they are commonly used by native English speakers.  A word is considered a neologism when it’s very obvious that it’s a word made up of other words or that one word has been changed to get it to fit a new form.  


Neologisms can occur in passing too.  A native English speaker could make up a new word on the spot to describe what’s on their mind.  It’s not uncommon for native English speakers to create a word by blending two together or adding a prefix or a suffix in a once-off situation to describe something specific.  


Examples of Neologism Words

Hiberdating = hibernating + dating

Nonversation = not a worthwhile conversation

Workaholic = work + alcoholic

Situationship = situation + relationship

Skort = skirt + short

Staycation = stay + vacation

Cyberspace = cyber + space

Selfie = self + suffix ie

(The suffix -ie usually makes a word into the informal and endearing form)

Sweetie = sweet + ie

Youie = you + selfie

Bothie = you + me selfie

Humanness = human + ness



The spelling of ‘gonna’ is used in the place of ‘going to.’  This word is informal and is derived from the spoken pronunciation of ‘going to.’  English speakers usually don’t stress the /t/ sound and reduce it instead.  This does depend on the country and regional accents too.



Gonna Grammar

There is a rule as to when ‘going to’ can be reduced to ‘gonna’ and when it has to stay ‘going to.’


We say ‘gonna’ when we want are talking about the future using ‘be going to + verb 1.’


The sentence structure is subject + be + going to + verb 1



I’m gonna go to the shops after work.

Are you gonna go home after the holidays?

They’re never gonna make it.


We CANNOT form ‘going to’ to ‘gonna’ in the present continuous tense.


This sentence structure is: subject + be + v -ing



I’m going to the shops.

She’s going to the beach after work.

They’re going to their cousin’s house for Christmas this year.


How To Pronounce Gonna

‘Gonna’ has two different pronunciations.  The differences simply depend on your accent.


In British English, the pronunciation is /ˈɡə.nə/

In American English, the pronunciation is /ˈɡɑː.nə/


It doesn’t matter which pronunciation you choose, just remember to stress the first syllable.  Do not put too much emphasis on the /nə/ ending.  The whole reason ‘going to’ becomes ‘gonna’ is because the second syllable is unstressed.



‘Gotta’ is the informal version of ‘need to.’  The verb ‘get’ can almost always be replaced by a more expressive verb, however, ‘got to’ is more common in informal spoken English.  If you want to sound like a native English speaker, try to say ‘gotta’ instead of ‘need to’ when in informal situations.



Gotta Grammar

‘Gotta’ is the spoken form of ‘got to.’  It is used as a filler verb to say that you need to do something.  


The structure is subject + got to + verb 1.


‘Gotta’ is reduced in spoken English because it is not the main verb of the sentence.  The speaker wants to get past ‘got to’ and get to the main verb to explain themselves.  



I gotta go.

You gotta finish your homework before you go out.

We gotta get to the shops before they close.

I gotta fetch my brother from school today.


How To Pronounce Gotta

Similarly to ‘gonna,’ ‘gotta’ has two pronunciations.


In British English, ‘gotta’ is pronounced /ˈɡɒt.ə/

In American English, ‘gotta’ is pronounced /ˈɡɑː.t̬ə/


The stressed syllable is the first syllable because the second syllable is the one that gets reduced.  Reductions are never stressed in English.  



‘Wanna’ is the spoken and informal form of ‘want to.’  It is also not the main verb of the sentence, so it’s common for native English speakers to reduce ‘want to’ to ‘wanna’ when speaking.


Wanna Grammar

In English grammar, ‘wanna’ replaces ‘want to’ in informal spoken English and when writing informally. 


The structure is subject + wanna + verb 1



I wanna go out tonight.

I don’t wanna play football today.

They wanna come over.

We wanna go to bed.


How To Pronounce Wanna

The pronunciation differs depending on whether an American or a British person is speaking.


In British English, ‘wanna’ is pronounced /ˈwɒn.ə/

In American English, ‘wanna’ is pronounced /ˈwɑː.nə/


The first syllable is stressed and the reduction is unstressed.  The schwa /ə/ sound in English is never stressed, so it’s important that you don’t put too much emphasis on the second syllable. 


If you can learn how to reduce the words ‘wanna’ ‘gonna’ and ‘gotta’ effectively in English then you will be able to speak English fluently and sound like a native English speaker.