The letter T is not always what we think of as a T. In fact, MOST of the time it’s not. So then what is it? What are the rules for how to pronounce T? Today you’ll get rules and examples to help you figure out what Americans are really doing when it comes to T and TT. See the show notes for more information on the rules.
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- The three kinds of T pronunciations: True T, Flap T, Stop T
- Mostly, dictionaries just list the True T sound. But Americans often use the Flap T or Stop T instead.
- True T: How to make it, and how NOT to make it
- True T Rule 1: At the beginning of a word
- Exception #1: in the TR cluster (train, try) – then it can sound like a CH
- Exception #2: the words to, today, tomorrow. These may begin with a Flap T.
- True T Rule 2: At the beginning of a stressed syllable (attain, until). This includes secondary stress. In a dictionary, secondary stress is marked with this: ˌ Primary stress is marked with this: ˈ
- Exception: when it’s followed by R (attribute, attract)
- Dropped T Rule 1: T can be dropped after N (center, internet)
- Exception: when there is a syllable split between N and T (until, intense)
- Dropped T Rule 2: Americans often drop the T between two other consonants (exactly, perfectly). This applies to phrases where two words link (just because)
- Exception: Not when the consonant before the T is an R (partly)
- Flap T: sounds like an R in Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese
- How to make the Flap T
- Flap T Rule 1: a T is a Flap T between two vowels or diphthongs (beautiful, city)
- Exception: If the T begins a stressed syllable. Then it’s a True T (attain, attack)
- Flap T Rule 2: a T is a Flap T after an R before a vowel or diphthong (party, dirty). Applies to linked phrase: (a lot of, about it)
- Exception: if the T begins a stressed syllable. Then it’s a True T (partake)
- How to make a Stop sound
- Rachel and David argue over the T in ‘what’
- Stop T vs. No T: Buy vs. bite
- How Stoney is learning how to talk
- Stop T Rule 1: When the T is followed by a consonant sound (definitely, bluntly)
- Exception: when the sound before the T is an R. Then it’s a Stop T (partly)
- Stop T Rule 2: Make the T a Stop T when it’s the last sound in a thought group.
- Exception: when the T is in a cluster, then we usually pronounce it (fact, best)
- Recapping words