How to Pronounce the “T” Sound in American English

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Have you ever struggled with pronunciation in English?

Are there some words that you want to be sure that you are pronouncing correctly?

Today we’re focusing on pronunciation in a new series, as this is such a strong focus within learning English.

We’re looking at specific pronunciations that may be common to new English learners, and so there are bound to be focus areas that can help you.

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We have a question from a listener about the pronunciation of the letter “t” that leads us into some helpful tips.

Hi ladies,

I love your show and I listen to it all the time! I have a question for you that I am hoping you can help answer. Can you please have a session on different pronunciations of the letter “T” in an American native accent?

You hear “t” used all the time, and I have questions about how it is pronounced. Most of the time “t” sounds like “d”, and I was wondering if there is any regulation for that. If you can offer any help in this area, I would be so grateful.

Thanks in advance!

Mitra Rass

Looking At The Importance Of Pronunciation

Today we’re starting a series on English pronunciation for the American accent.

So many of our students let us know that they want to improve their pronunciation.

Many of the students in our new business course rave about the pronunciation lessons.

This is such a common question, and one that you want to be sure you know how to master.

Pronunciation is taking your English speaking and mastery up a level, and that’s why it’s so important.

Pronunciation can cause barriers to language and miscommunication, and so this is why it’s such an important part of learning English.

Though your pronunciation certainly doesn’t have to be perfect in order to speak a language fluently, you do want to put some effort into it.

If you recognize the importance of pronunciation and trying to make it more native, there are tricky things about English pronunciation to be aware of and tips that can make it simple.

Even natives may struggle with certain aspects of this, so the tricks and the focus within this series will be instrumental.

This series will focus on some of the trickiest English pronunciation and will give you ways to make it easy.

This is something that you can use moving forward and help you to know how to master even the toughest pronunciation.

Here are a couple of episodes that we’ve done in the past on pronunciation that you’ll want to check out for some helpful background.

Five Steps To Clear English Pronunciation With Hadar Shemesh

3 Pronunciation Don’ts With Esther Bruhl

The #1 Shortcut To Solving Your Biggest Pronunciation Problem With Alex

Tips To Make Pronunciation Easier

When you look at this particular pronunciation, you have to consider a few things.

If you look at the following tips, they can help you to master this particular pronunciation.

As you might guess, the letter “T” appears a lot in conversation and so you want to be ready for it.

Let’s take a look at these tips as they may help you to overcome any struggles you may have with this particular pronunciation.

Tip #1: True T is a stop consonant: Try to visualize what this means as it may help you a bit more. These sounds and words are made when the air flowing through your mouth is stopped by either your tongue or lips, which causes a build-up of air. When the air is released, it makes a sound. Try doing this slowly with your mouth and see firsthand how it feels.

Visualization can help a lot in an instance like this. Here are a couple of examples of words that fall into this category. When in doubt, try saying these slowly to see how they feel to you on the mouth, lips, and tongue. It Got Hat Toy Top late

Tip #2: When T comes between two vowel sounds, we pronounce T as D. This may sound a bit confusing, but you can always sound it out to see for yourself. The letter as you know it may sound very different when it appears in the words you use in conversation. This is where you have to learn beyond just a textbook because this only comes with practice. Taking the time to sound these out will show you how this specific pronunciation works. Here are a few words that fall into this category, and you can tell how this works when you sound them out. These are words that you may use every day, but when you slow them down you can see how the sound is different.

• daughter = daugh-der

• computer = com-pu-der

• water = wa-der

• heater = hea-der

The same rule applies for TT.

When TT comes between two vowel sounds, we pronounce TT as D.

Just because it’s a double t doesn’t mean it’s any different.

The same sort of pronunciation happens here, and you do the same thing with your mouth.

• letter = le-der

• settle = se-dle

• bottle = bo-dle

Tip #3: When you combine the T+Y sound (/j/) = it creates CH. This is a very different sound and you might not expect it with a t, but it’s how the word is formed. This is very common and you may hear it often in certain words or phrases. It may even sound like two sounds or words coming together, but it’s actually the pronunciation happening. Here are a few examples of how this sound works, and you can hear it as you say it. That ch sound is unique, but yet it appears often in conversation.

• But you

• Question

• Future

Tip #4: When T is not followed by a vowel, it is often pronounced closing your throat suddenly, instead of using the tip of your tongue. This may be what you envision a more traditional t sound to be, and you can picture it. You have likely said this many times as it’s a common way to form the sound and the words associated with it. You can picture this t sound even as you see these example words. Perhaps it’s because you hear the t so profoundly, or because these tend to be common words or sounds.

Cat

Department

Keeping these tips in mind can help you to remember how to pronounce certain words.

These are the rules or the way that your mouth forms words, and so they will really come in handy moving forward.

Pronunciation is so important, and this specific one is very common and therefore you will utilize it a lot.

Roleplay To Help

In this roleplay, Aubrey and Lindsay are on a telephone conversation.

Aubrey: “Hello, Fast Med billing department. “(both 4)

Lindsay: “Hi, I need to pay a medical bill.” (1- true T)

Aubrey: “Okay, I’ll just have (5) to (1) ask a couple of questions (3) first. (1) Can you give me your account number?” (4)

Lindsay:” It’s my daughter’s (2) account – 79456. Her name is Priscilla.”

Aubrey: “What a (4) cute name! I love that!”

Lindsay: “Thank you!”

Takeaway

These tips can help you pronounce the letter T like a native.

This is a common letter and a common word, and so you want to really practice this to master it.

The use of the T sound can vary from person to person, as well as by geographical region.

This is one of the more difficult pronunciation struggles, even for many native speakers.

You may think that you have it right in your mind, but you always want to sound it out and use these tips to help you.

With these tips, you’ll be able to understand how the letter T works and improve your pronunciation overall.

This will help you communicate clearly and be understood by anyone you want to make connections with!

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.



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