ter; to


Senior Member
“I was allowed ter do a bit ter follow yeh an' get yer letters to yeh an' stuff -- one o' the reasons I was so keen ter take on the job––“
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

There are four tos, three of them are written ter and one is to. What can make this difference?
  • Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    The author is trying to give the impression that the character is speaking in dialect. I don't think it is particularly effective, but then I'm a North American and not really able to judge the effect on British readers.


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Ter is just a way of representing the weak form of pronouncing to.

    Wikipedia has an article on strong and weak forms in English here:
    Some monosyllabic English function words have a weak form with a reduced vowel, used when the word has no prosodic stress, and a phonemically distinct strong form with a full vowel, used when the word is stressed (and as the citation form or isolation form when a word is mentioned standing alone). In the case of many such words the strong form is also used when the word comes at the end of a sentence or phrase.
    The weak form of to is [tə]. AmE speakers might prefer to represent this as tuh.

    In this particular case, I think J K Rowling was just inconsistent. There is no significance to the word being spelt ter or to.

    Although it is normal to pronounce to as [tə] in a lot of contexts, representing Hagrid's to as ter gives the impression that he is very casual or speaks a non-standard form of English.
    < Previous | Next >