How should you pronounce the two T’s in ‘what time’? Learn how to say this phrase comfortably in conversational English: what words or syllables to reduce, how to link everything together, and the melodic shape of the phrase.
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to study the pronunciation of the phrase ‘what time?’. This is part of a sentence study series, where we look at a short common phrase, and discuss its pronunciation.This two-syllable phrase has stress on the second word, the content word, ‘time’. What time? da-DA. What time? You might notice that there’s a quick break between the two syllables. That’s because there’s a stop T. What—time. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
We begin with the W consonant, lips in a tight circle. Then we have the UH as in BUTTER vowel, everything in the mouth is relaxed. The tongue is forward and relaxed. Wha, wha. Now, we have a stop T. So we’re going to bring the tongue up to the roof of the mouth, so the top, flat part is touching. We also stop the air with our throats. What, what. This is a stop consonant.
The next word begins with the True T, so we’re pretty much in the position for that already. All we have to do is close the teeth, what, tt, and release the air that we’ve stopped: time. What time. We have the AI as in BUY diphthong in ‘time’. Many of my students don’t drop their jaw enough for the first half of that diphthong. Ti-, time. For the second half of the diphthong, the tongue tip stays down but the front part stretches towards the roof of the mouth, so the jaw will close some. Ti-, ti-. And finally, we have the M consonant, where the lips come together. Time. There’s no way to make this sound in American English without closing the lips.
Some of my Spanish-speaking students will say something more like ‘time’, m, m, where they end the word in a nasaly-vowel sound rather than the M. Time, m, m. You have to bring your lips together for that. Time. What time, what time, what time.
This is a question and you’ll notice that the voice goes down in pitch at the end. What time. That’s because it’s not a yes/no question. Yes/no questions tend to go up in pitch at the end but other questions will go down. What time?
And now let’s look at the phrase, up, close and in slow motion.
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That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.