The Sounds of T in The American English Pronunciation

The T sound in the American English pronunciation

There are five ways to pronounce the letter T in the American English pronunciation. I’ll have to remind you that this lesson is a bit difficult and it takes a lot of hard work and practice to be able to sound like a native speaker. So, let’s practice, practice, and more practice.

T = T – The real T sound

The regular T sound is almost always used when “t” is the first letter of a word. ST or TS always keep the regular T sound as well.

Examples: table, tall, test, best.

T = D – The D sound, also known as Flap T

When T is between two vowel sounds (A,E,I,O,U) or between a vowel and L or R, it becomes a D sound. It should be a soft, light sound. This is the key difference between British and American speech.

Written: computer, water, bottle, heater, better, matter, ability, university, put it on, great idea.

Spoken: compuder, wader, bodul, header, beder, mader, abilidy, universidy, pudidon, gread’idea.

T = Silent T

When T comes after N, the T sound is dropped in many words. This rule is not as important, as it’s informal. It is mostly used when people speak quickly. The T sound should be fast and soft or barely heard at all.

Written: interview, interstate, international, wanted, don’t know, printer, enter, tw

Spoken: inerview, inerstate, inernational, wanned, don’know, priner, ener, tweny.

T = Hard N sound, also known as a Held T

When T is before an N, the sound is stopped and turns into a hard N.

The final N should be strong.  This sound is more difficult.

Written: mountain, fountain, curtain, written, forgotten, important, sentence.

Spoken: mou-N, fou-N, cur-N, wri-N, forgo-N, impor-Nt, sen-Nce

T =  Stopped T sound

When T is at the end of a word (and this is not followed by a vowel), the sound stops.

Examples: hot, hat, mat, fat, lot, rat, pat, foot, want, sit, sat, fit.

Watch and listen to Rachel. She will teach you how to pronounce the letter T in the American English pronunciation. 

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