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The American "T"

The American "T"

Date: Dec 05 2008

Topic: Pronunciation

Author: nad1a


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The American T

The American T is influenced very strongly by intonation and its position in a word or phrase. It can be a little tricky if you try to base your pronunciation on spelling alone.

There are, however, 4 basic rules: [T is T], [T is D] ,  [T is Silent], [T is Held].

1 The beginning of the  word  [T is T]
If the T is at the beginning of a word it is a strong, clear T sound.

  1. In the beginning of a word: table, take, tomorrow, teach, ten, turn Thomas tried two times.
  2. With a stressed T and ST, TS, TR, CT, LT and sometimes NT combinations: They control the contents.
  3. In the past tense, D sounds like T, after an unvoiced consonant sound — f, k, p, s, ch, sh, th (but not T).
    picked [pikt], hoped [houpt], raced [rast], watched [wächt], washed [wäsht]
    It took Tim ten times to try the telephone.

2 Middle of the word  [T is D]
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If the T is in the middle of the word, intonation changes the sound to a soft D.
Letter sounds like [ledder].

Water, daughter, bought a, caught a, lot of, got a, later, meeting, better

Practice these sentences:

What a good idea.

[w'd' güdäi deey']

Put it in a bottle.

[pü di di n' bäd'l]

Get a better water heater.

[gedda bedder wäder heeder]

Put all the data in the computer.

[püdall the dayd' in the k'mpyuder]

Patty ought to write a better letter.

[pædy äd' ride a bedder ledder]

3 [T is Silent]
T and N are so close in the mouth that the [t] can disappear.

  • interview [innerview]
  • international [innernational]
  • advantage [ædvæn'j]
  • percentage [percen'j]

If the T is at the end of a word, you almost don't hear it at all.

  • put, what, lot, set, hot, sit, shot, brought.
  • That's quite right, isn't it?

4 End of the word  [T is Held]

With -tain, -tten and some TN combinations, the T is held. The "held T" is, strictly speaking, not really a T at all. Remember, [t] and [n] are very close in the mouth. If you have [n] immediately after [t], you don't pop the [t]—the tongue is in the [t] position, but your release the air for the [n] not the [t]. An important point to remember is that you need a sharp upward sliding intonation up to the "held T," then a quick drop for the N.

Written, certain, forgotten, sentence:

  • He's forgotten the carton of satin mittens.
  • She's certain that he has written it.
  • Martin has gotten a kitten.





Related Lessons:

More help on Pronunciation




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i know matrix, i was just trying to be funny (and failed obviously)


05:59 PM Dec 11 2008 |


Viet Nam

Great lesson, nad!

09:25 AM Dec 11 2008 |





so, was he into baking or money?


07:48 AM Dec 11 2008 |




When you say:

They say the dime easier to talk to .

They say that I'm easier to talk to.

the two sentences sound just the same.

07:09 AM Dec 10 2008 |




thanx matrix, good addition

D itself is usually flapped when it's between vowels , for example

the D you'll hear in 'doctor' is different from the D you hear in 'medal'

just like the T the first D is a clear D, whereas in the second case it's a flap.

 the phonologic term for that is  Intervocalic alveolar flapping or tapping but who would understand if i put it that way. ;-)

comparing it to D is more comprehensive


06:55 AM Dec 10 2008 |



Saudi Arabia

wow great and good job …. and that tongue pic is so funny :) ...

01:23 AM Dec 10 2008 |




good job…

07:18 PM Dec 09 2008 |



thank you alot


12:50 PM Dec 09 2008 |



send more pronunciation lessons on my e-mail

09:59 PM Dec 08 2008 |



that is great .we need more

09:57 PM Dec 08 2008 |


United States

you're doing a great job, hun

10:38 AM Dec 08 2008 |




author,thank you very much Cool

03:07 AM Dec 08 2008 |




Graciaz Julio:-)

Thanks for the appreciation and i'll definitely take advantage of your offer and get to brush up my Spanish as well.

07:27 PM Dec 06 2008 |



Nadia. I love the way you teach English. You are the best teacher I've ever met! Puedo ayudarte con el Español cuando tú quieras.

07:20 PM Dec 06 2008 |



Nadia. I love the way you teach English. You are the best teacher I've ever met! Puedo ayudarte con el Español cuando tú quieras.

07:20 PM Dec 06 2008 |

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