I bet you have seen people with an American accent pronouncing words like computer as compuDer. And yet there are other words that they don’t pronounce that way, like curTain, not curDain. Have you ever wondered about why that’s the case? If you have, voila! Here’s what you need to know.
In American English, T can be pronounced in 5 different ways
Shocked? Yes, that’s why learning English is no easy jobs. But once you’ve mastered these rules, I’m sure you will speak English in a more natural and confident accent.
Let’s get back to the rules. In American English, there are 5 ways you can pronounce the sound of T.
1. T just being T
- Examples: with words like table, tall, test or best, T is pronounced in its regular sound. You don’t have to alter it to something else.
- Rule: Did you notice something? Yes, in these 2 following situations, T is T.
- T is the first letter of the word (tall, table)
- T that goes with S, like ST or TS (best, test)
2. T becomes D
- Examples: computer (compuDer), water (waDer), better (beDer), ability (abiliDy), bottle (boDul)… With these words, changing T to a soft D will make your speech sound more natual.
- Rule: T becomes D when
- T is between 2 vowels (A, E, I, O, U) as in water or computer
- T is between a vowel and L or R as in bottle
- Note: You should just pronounce D softly and lightly.
Also, if T is at the end of a word and the next letter is a vowel, we can change T in to D as well. (For example, put it on can be pronouced as putdidon, lot of can be pronounced as loddof)
3. T as N
- Examples: mountain (mou-N), written (wri-N), sentence (sen-Nce), important (impor-Nt)… For these words, do remember to pronounce T as a hard N.
- Rule: When T comes before an N, like in mountain or sentence, the sound of T is stopped and and altered into a hard N.
- Note: The N should be pronounced strongly. (You may want to listen to these words for a while before start using them)
4. T = Silence
- Examples: Interview (in-erview), international (in-ernational), wanted (wann-ed). You can totally drop the T sound in these words.
- Rule: when T stands after N like interview or wanted
- Note: Also notice that when T is at the middle or at the end of any word, don’t pronounce it strongly.
5. T = Stopped Sound
- Examples: hot, fat, sit, sat, lot,…
- Rule: When T stands at the end of the word and is not followed by a vowel, the sound stops. Just don’t say it.
- Note: To pronounce this correctly, you may want to emphasize the preceding vowel like o or a in hot and hat.
So that’s it, all you need to know to move up to a whole new level with your speaking skills. These rules are simple but to use it naturally, you should watch or listen to native speakers pronouncing these words first, then practice until they become more familiar to you. I’m sure the result will be fascinating!
ELSA wishes that you can always be confident with your communication. Cheers!