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Even native English speakers are shocked by this: you DO NOT say the T in any of these words: identify, twenty and wanted. Don’t believe me? Let’s get to work!
There are a lot of words where Americans would drop a T sound but Brits wouldn’t. For example, this word: Identify.
Nine times out of ten, Americans won’t say that T. Identify.
Brits will. 5 examples of Americans dropping this T.
5 examples of Brits pronouncing the T.
So we have identify, American and British.
If you’re trying to master a natural sound in American English or you’re curious about the differences between American and British pronunciation, you’ll want to know this rule about T after N. What other words have a dropped T like this?
When a T comes after an N. What other words have a drop T like this?
When a T comes after an N before a vowel of diphthong, often, Americans won’t say that T at all but most of the time Brits will.
I’m going to give you lots of examples here so you’ll totally understand the rule, know the exceptions and start to build this habit.
The first word we’re studying is “identify” and also “identification”.
Identification, again, nine times out of ten an American speaker will drop that T sound but a Brit won’t.
American English examples.
British English examples.
Identification or identification.
The next one. Now, you may have noticed this because it’s so common, twenty.
It’s very uncommon for an American to say the second T, [‘twen ti].
You’ll almost always heat it as [twen I].
Twenty, twenty, twenty. British English, sometimes they do this but most of the time it [‘twen ti] for them.
The next word group: wanted, want a and want another.
Wanted. Studying speakers from the UK, I noticed they will also drop this T sometimes. Often it’s a true T, wanted.
But not always. In American English however, 99% of the time, we’ll drop that T.
The first word we looked at, identify, had the nt plus vowel within the word. But this rule applies to linking words together as well. Want another, for example nt vowel. Americans will usually drop that T, Want another.
Want a. [‘wan ǝ]. Just like want to, [‘wan ǝ]
These are both examples of dropping the T after N before a vowel.
I want a Coke. That’s want a. I want a Coke.
I want to leave now. That’s want to.
I want to leave now. Want to, want to, these two phrases sound exactly the same with this reduction.
Speaking of sounds the same, the phrase we just studied, want another sounds just like this phrase.
Want another, because of dropping the T.
I want another donut.
We have to love one another.
I love this! Why do they sound the same?
Why drop the T? Doesn’t that make a word less clear?
In American English, huge priority is given to the smoothness of sound, the flow of sound, no interruption and linking between words. It’s one of the most important characteristics of spoken English.
So taking out, tt. A sharp sound. That stop of air with the escape, smooths it out. Removing that smooths it out. And that’s how this habit came about. Think about it. The position of the N, nnn.
very similar to the position of T , tt.
both have the front of the tongue at the roof of the mouth. N, T. So somewhere along the way, dropping that sharp stop to smooth out the sound came about.
There’s another word set where it’s common for Americans to drop the T especially in conversational English but even in more formal settings like speeches.
Counter. This is true especially in the phrase “kitchen counter”. For Americans, you’ll almost always hear that with no T.
Counter [‘kaʊn ər] Kitchen counter.
For British English, they will say that T.
Also the word “count”. Linking into a vowel.
I count on that money every month.
To count on something means to need it, to rely on it, to depend on it.
Say that with me.
Count on [‘kaʊn an]
Linked smoothly to the N, no T. Here’s some other examples.
I counted twenty. How many did you count? Counted twenty, two dropped Ts.
Or counting. I’m counting on you or I’m counting on that.
Another word said where it’s pretty common for Americans to drop the Ts. Disappointed.
Disappointed. British probably won’t drop that T.
Also disappointing. No t a lot of the time for Americans.
But usually with a T for Brits.
Now there’s an exception to this rule.
We don’t do it if there’s a syllable break between n and t.
For example, T. Those all have that T sound.
More examples of dropping the T, we’ll go more quickly here. But first, I want to tell you about a new feature here on Youtube that allows you to give a super thanks donation to the channel. This helps me know what videos you really love and appreciate and help support the channel. For example, I’m currently looking to buy some camera equipment. So give a super thanks to your favorite video of mine, I appreciate it so much, your support.
Out next example, “pointed”.
Pointing. I pointed out that we don’t need that.
Is he pointing at me?
Now, this example and the ones coming up, it’s less common to drop the T. Yes you’ll hear it but only about half of the time. The rest of the time, you’ll hear a true T. This is different from identify or twenty where you’ll almost always hear the T dropped.
I need a new printer.
I’m printing it out after work.
I printed it already.
Paint. Followed by a word that begins with a vowel or diphthong also painted and painting.
I’m going to paint it pink.
What a beautiful painting. Or, we’re having the house painted while we’re on vacation.
I rented a car for vacation.
Do they own their home? No, they’re renting.
This is also common with “inter”words. For example, Internation, Internet, Interview.
The internet is down.
She’s studying international affairs.
I have a job interview next week.
The accounting office is closed.
Everything is accounted for.
What do you think?
Do you like this rule? Do you hate it?
Have you noticed other words?
My boys are going to the dentist next week. And I noticed myself dropping that T, dentist.
Can you think of another situation that follows this rule of NT plus a vowel or diphthong where the T can be dropped?
Or an example you’ve heard and noticed. Put it in the comments below.
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In the meantime, keep your learning going with this video, I love being your English teacher. That’s it and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.