This month my pronunciation lesson was about ‘t’ and ‘d’. Students learnt about strong ‘t’s at the start of words (e.g. to, top), and in clusters (e.g. st- stop, -tch watch); about silent ‘t’s and ‘d’s (e.g. Christmas, Wednesday); and about held ‘t’s and ‘d’s when the full sound of the letter is not pronounced. ‘t’s and ‘d’s can be held at the end of words (e.g. ‘what’ becomes whaʔ, ‘good’ becomes gooʔ), in /tli/ words (e.g. ‘recently’ becomes ‘recenʔly’, ‘lately’ becomes ‘laʔely’), and in the pattern t + vowel + n (e.g. ‘written’ becomes /rɪʔən/, ‘certain’ – /sɜːʔən/). They also learnt about how, in -nd words (e.g. ‘and’), the ‘d’ is cut which is why we write rock ‘n’ roll, and fish ‘n’ chips.
At the end of the lesson, I gave some homework to review some of the rules and patterns that we’d covered.
‘t’ and ‘d’ sentence practice
How do you pronounce the ‘t’s and ‘d’s in these sentences?
1. What time tomorrow? 2. How about meeting at eight? 3. I was sent home.
4. I slept well last night. 5. Don’t do that. 6. He doesn’t want it. 7. I wanted to know.
– = words linked
1. Whaʔ time tomorrow? 2. How abouʔ meeʔing aʔ eighʔ / at-eighʔ / ad eighʔ? 3. I was senʔ home.
4. I slept well las
t nighʔ. 5. Don’ʔ do thaʔ. 6. He doesn’ʔ wanʔ it / want-it / waniʔ. 7. I wan ted to know.
Actual pronunciation will depend on the speaker, and as you can see, there are a number of alternatives. Native English speakers may use a lot of ‘held’ sounds, but sometimes this does not mean that their English is good! For example, in British English, saying ‘waniʔ’ instead of ‘want it’, or ‘wanid’ instead of ‘wanted’ is not considered ‘nice’ English!
Practice saying the sentences above using ‘holds’ and ‘cuts’ so your ears will more easily recognise these patterns when you hear them. It is probably not such a good idea to try and speak ‘bad’ English!
Remember your goals: To speak so that others understand you; to be able to understand what others are saying.
Why not record yourself and then listen to how you sound? You may be surprised how native like you have become!
Have fun cutting and holding those ‘t’s and ‘d’s!