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Saturday Nov 21st, 2009
English Pronunciation Podcast 52-
How Americans Pronounce the letter <t>
: This podcast teaches you how to
pronounce the consonant <t> correctly with an American accent.


In this week's podcast, we're going to learn how to pronounce the letter <t>. Listen to the pronunciation of <t> in the following sentence.

The water in my tea is too hot.

Perhaps you've noticed that in this sentence <t> is pronounced three different ways.
In the word "water" it is pronounced like /d/. In the words "tea" and "too" it is pronounced /t/
and in the word "hot", it's almost silent.
In your native language there is probably only one pronunciation of <t>. It is simply /t/.
However, this is not the case in American English. There are actually three main pronunciations
of <t>.
This podcast is going to begin to teach you the three pronunciations of the American < t>.
You are going to learn what they are and when to use each one.
Understanding the different pronunciations of <t>will improve the way you sound and will also
greatly improve your listening skills.

The focus of this week's podcast is:

  • To become aware that there are three different pronunciations of American <t>.
  • To learn how to pronounce aspirated <t>.
  • To practice this sound in some key words and common American expressions
    and idioms.

Let's go back to the previous example.

The water in my tea is too hot.

Let's look at the words "tea" and "too"


Please listen and repeat : tea ... too

This type of t is very universal. It's found in most languages . It is known as the aspirated /t/.

It's also sometimes known as the initail /t/.

Aspirated means that we release more air when we say it.


Please listen and repeat: /t/.../t/

When do we use aspirated /t/ ?

Americans use this /t/ in two cases.

First Case of Aspirated "t"

Aspirated "'t" is used at the beginning of stressed syllables .

For example: What time is it?

The word " time" is stressed so I use the aspirated/ t/ because the t is coming
right before that stressed syllable. But notice how the /t/ in "it" was not aspirated.
This is because that <t> did not occur at the beginning of a stressed syllable so I
pronounce it differently.
Future podcasts will cover the pronunciation of this type of <t>.

Let's listen to another example:

I'd like to return this sweater.

Noticed that the <t> in "return", came at the beginning of a stressed syllable and we therefore pronounced it with aspirated /t/. Also notice how the the other <t> in "sweater" was pronounced differently.This is becasue it did not occur before stressed syllables.
Future podcasts wil cover the other pronunciations of <t>.

Today, we are only going to focus on the aspirated /t/ .

Second case of Aspirated /t/.

Aspirated / t/ is used when <t> occurs after a consonant.

As in the words "sentence" , or actor.

Although <t> is not coming in the stressed syllable, we still pronounce it /t/
because it comes after a consonant.

The Difference Between American Aspirated /t/ and /t/ in Other Languages

Aspirated /t/ exists in many languages around the word but there is a small difference <br>between the American /t/ and most other languages.

In most languages <t> is pronounced with the tounge tip against the teeth .
But this not the case in English.

How to Pronounce /t/:

Tongue: Point the tip of your tongue against the gum ridge (bump on the roof of your mouth.) .
The sides of the tongue should gently touch the side teeth. Press the tip of your tongue against the gum ridge, stop the air flow for a split second and release.

In podcast #32 , we learned about "stop consonants" and "continuant consonants".
Aspirated /t/ is a stop consonant because we stop the air for a split second using our tongue tip.

In podcast #30, we learned about "voiced" and "voiceless" consonants. /t/ is a voiceless consonant because wedo not use our voice to make this sound.

Exercise: Listen and repeat /t/, paying careful attention to the position of your tongue tip:

/t/ ... /t/ ...

Exercise: Listen and repeat the following words containing /t/.
Pay careful attention to your form.

team... text ... attend ... sentence ... actor ...

Exercise : Listen and repeat the following American expressions and idioms containing /t/

Take your time.

Let's talk it over. . ( discuss)

It takes two to tango.. (there are two people responsible for what happened, not just one)

Practice is Key!

Speaking English clearly and correctly takes a lot of practice.
But with practice you will get it!

The Right Training Tools for Better Pronunciation:

It's important to have right training tools in order to improve your accent.

That's why I recommend that you check it out my English Pronunciation Course in mp3 format- Best Accent Training mp3s!

No matter what your first language is, Best Accent Training has the lessons you need for speaking English clearly and correctly.

All the sounds of English in one course!

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You'll get all the vowels of English, all the consonants, syllable stress lessons, intonation lessons and connected speech!

Best of all, Best Accent Training is a fast and easy download that you can put on your mp3 player and take with you wherever you go!

Any questions, comments or suggestions ? Contact us at:   contact@englishpronunciationpod.com

Thank you and see you next time!


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- Domingo Ponce Rodriguez- - Marketing Manager USA (Spain)

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