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How to pronounce the American T sound

Have you ever noticed that there are several T’s in American English?

The American T is pronounced quite differently, depending on its position in the word.I BET you haven’t  noticed all the different utterances of this one sound.
And I bet, you’ll start noticing those differences once you watch today’s video.Applying the different T sounds will improve your flow and your accent.
The American T (part 3):


Hi, it’s Hadar, and this is the Accent’s Way – your way to finding clarity, confidence, and freedom in English.

And today we’re going to talk about the T sound. This sound, this consonant sound is one of the most varied sounds in American English. Because the pronunciation of the sound really depends on its position in the word. At T at the beginning of word doesn’t sound like a T at the end of the word, doesn’t sound like a T in the middle of the word.

We’ve already discussed in previous videos the pronunciation of a T at the beginning of a word – an aspirated T, as in ‘time’, ‘take’, or the beginning of a strong syllable as in ‘fantastic’. You can check out the video. We also talked about the flat T – a T between two vowels, as in ‘Betty’, ‘getting’, or ‘about it’. Today we’re going to talk about a few other positions and different pronunciations of the T. So let’s get started.

When the T peers before an R at the beginning of a word or the middle of the word, as in the word ‘train’ or ‘country’, you don’t hear a distinct T sound. So it doesn’t sound like ‘Train’, it sounds like ‘chrain’. Do you hear the difference? The difference is that instead of pronouncing a T sound, you pronounce a ‘ch’ sound, it’s like a ‘t’ with a ‘sh’ connected to it: ‘ch’ as in ‘cherry’ or ‘chips’. Train.

A ‘t’ at the end of the word or before a consonant is a stop T or a held T. You hold it instead of releasing it. For example: ‘foot-ball’, ‘foot-ball’. All right. You don’t hear ‘fooT-ball’, you don’t hear that pop, right, but you raise the tongue up for the T: ‘foo-‘. The tip of the tongue remains up blocking the air, and then it continued directly to the next sound – ‘foot’ball’.

‘White curtain’. ‘whit-‘ – ‘t’ remains there, right, the tongue remains there. ‘white-‘, and then I shift the K sound without releasing the T – a white curtain. ‘Get some’. Not ‘geT some’ – ‘get-some’.

The T is also held or barely released when it’s at the end of the word, like ‘cat’, right. I don’t say ‘caT’, right? You don’t hear a strong T, but a light, hardly released T – ‘cat’, ‘get’, ‘wait’.

A T after an N in an unstressed syllable is often eliminated, as in ‘twenty’ or ‘wanted’ or ‘internet’. Do you hear it? I’m not saying ‘inTernet’ or ‘wanTed’, but ‘waned’, I’m moving from the N to the rest of the word, skipping the T: ‘waned’, ‘tweny’, ‘inernet’, ‘inerview’, ‘cener’.

Now, some people do pronounce the T sound in these positions: center, internet, interview, international. But the more frequent the word is, the more likely the T is going to be dropped. All right? So try it again with me. ‘waned’, ‘inernet’, ‘cener’, ‘Sana’ – like Santa Claus, instead of ‘SanTa’.

Again, both pronunciations are perfectly fine and you’ll be well understood if you pronounce it with a T or without a T.

When a T appears before an unstressed vowel – hence the schwa – and then an N, the T is not released, but it’s released through the nose, as in the word ‘kitten’, ‘kitten’. All right. So let’s figure out exactly what we’re doing here.

The tip of the tongue goes up for the T – ‘kit-‘, but it’s not released. That means you don’t hear that pop sound – ‘t’, all right. So the tip of the tongue goes up – ‘kit-‘, and then open a gap that is in the back of your, in the soft palate, in the back of your mouth, towards your nose – ‘kit-n’, Then you release the air through the nose, and then you connect it directly to the N – kitten, mountain, cotton, forgotten. ‘t-n’, ‘t-n’, ‘t-n’. All right?

So it’s not ‘forgoDen’, right, it’s not even ‘forgoTen’, although this is the preferred option if the ‘t-n’ sound is difficult. All right. So, you bring the tongue up – ‘forgot-‘ and then you release the air – ‘-t-n’ – ‘forgot-n’.

All right, that’s it for today. So, practice the different T’s. I bet that now you’ll start hearing the different sounds because you’re aware that there are different sounds, and they don’t all sound the same. And once we hear the differences, it’s a lot easier for us to produce the differences.

All right. I hope you have a wonderful week. Practice because practice makes perfect. And please share this video with your friends if you found it helpful.

Thank you for watching and I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.

If you want to practice the other T’s mentioned in the video, here it is:


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2 Responses

  1. Thank’s for this markedly useful lesson!!! I’ve learned a lot from you!)))
    Appreciate your kindness)

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