English Sounds – T [t] and D [d] Consonants – How to make the T and D Consonants
August 28, 2019
In this American English Pronunciation video, we’re going to study how to make the T and D consonant sounds. These two sounds are paired together because they take the same mouth position. Tt– is unvoiced. Meaning only air passes through the mouth. And dd– is voiced. Meaning, dd– you make a sound with the vocal chords. These consonants are complicated because the way Americans pronounce them isn’t always what you’ll find in a dictionary. First, let’s talk about the true pronunciation. These are stop consonants which means there are two parts. First, a stop in the airflow, and second, a release. We stop here, by closing the vocal chords., and lift the tongue so the flat, top part is at the roof of the mouth It’s far forward, almost touching the back of the top front teeth. The teeth come together and we release all three parts at once. The tongue comes down from the roof of the mouth, the teeth part, and we release the air in the throat Tt— Dd— Just like with other stop consonants, we want to release them into the next sound. Let’s look at the true T and D consonants up close and in slow motion. The teeth come together and the top , front part of the tongue is at the roof of the mouth. The air stops in the throat. Then the teeth part and the tongue pulls down to release. The word ‘desk’. The teeth closed and the tongue is at the roof of the mouth. Then everything releases right into the EH as in Bed vowel. The word ‘stick’. The teeth close and the tongue is at the roof of the mouth. Then everything releases right into the IH as in Sit vowel. The word ‘expect’. The teeth nearly close and the tongue is at the roof of the mouth. Then the teeth release just a bit. There’s no next sound to release into. So the movement is minimal for the release. The tongue releases down. It’s possible to make the true D without the teeth coming together. Said. Dd– dd— Because of the voice in this sound, we can still release it. Said. Dd– But to make the True T, the teeth do have to come together or nearly together. Set. Tt– That was the True T and True D. If the T or D are at the end of a sentence, or if the next word begins with a consonant, then you make a Stop T or Stop D. We stop the air, but we don’t release it. You lift your tongue into position, stop the air, and that’s it. For example, the word ‘mad’, dd— Mad-d-d-d– Notice the last sound is d– The beginning of the D, dd– with the vocal chords engaged because it’s a voiced consonant. I don’t release. A release would sound like this: mad-dd– But instead, I say, mad-dd– leaving my tongue tip up. Now, let’s look at an example with a T followed by another consonant. The phrase “not for me”. Here, the T is followed by F. I stop the air, not– And then with out releasing, go into the F sound. Not–for… not for me. With stop consonants, we do stop the air in the throat. So I don’t have to move my tongue up into position for the T to stop the sound. In this phrase, “not for me”, I touch the roof of the mouth with a part of the tongue that’s further back. Not– My tongue tip can stay down. This helps me make the stop even shorter. So I can quickly go in to the next sound. Not for– Not for– I’ll bring my tongue up for the Stop T if the next sound also requires the tongue being at the roof of the mouth. When I say “not for me”, instead of “noT for me”. The words are more connected and the sentence is smoother. That’s what we want in American English. And that’s why we use the Stop T instead of the True T in these cases. Not for me. Let’s look at a stop up close and in slow motion. Here’s the word ‘what’. I don’t release the T at the end. The tongue goes to the roof of the mouth. But then I just stop the air. My teeth aren’t together and I don’t release. The lips simply close: what– Here’s what it looks like with a True T. The teeth come together, then a sudden release. Compare the ending. The top is ‘what’ with a Stop T. And the bottom is ‘what’ with a True T. For the Stop T, the teeth don’t come together because they don’t need to release. The air simply stops with the tongue in position. For the True T, we bring the teeth together so the tongue, teeth, and air release. The Stop T and D relate to the True T and D. We simply skip the release. But when the T or D come between 2 vowels or diphthongs, or after an R and before a vowel or diphthong, we make a different sound. One exception, if the T or D starts a stressed syllable, then it’s a True T or D. But in other cases, when the T or D consonants come between two vowels or diphthongs, or after an R and before a vowel or diphthong, we make a flap sound. This is different from the True and Stop T and D because we don’t stop the sound, we don’t hold anything. We simply let the front part of the tongue bounce against the roof of the mouth without stopping the flow of the air. The Flap T and Flap D sound the same. The Flap T and Flap D sound the same.
The T in ‘matter’, is the same as the D in ‘madder’. Matter. Madder. This sounds just like the R in many languages. But in American English, it’s the Flap T or Flap D. In my videos, I use the D symbol for this sound. This sound, however, isn’t a stop consonant anymore. Let’s look at some words with a flap up close and in slow motion. The word ‘city’. Here the T comes between two vowel sounds so it’s a flap. The tongue is in position for the IH vowel. Watch how it flaps against the roof of the mouth quickly. The air doesn’t stop. mouth quickly. The air doesn’t stop. That flap was fast even in slow motion. Let’s watch again. The whole word one more time. The word ‘party’. Here, the T comes after an R and before a vowel. So it’s a flap. The tongue is back and up for the R. Watch it flap. And come down from the flap. The air didn’t stop. Watch the whole word one more time. The word ‘tidy’. Here, the D comes after a diphthong and before a vowel so it’s a Flap D, watch the tongue flap. The whole word one more time. To isolate the sound, try holding out the sound before and after. Party. Then you can really feel the tongue flap bouncing against the roof of the mouth. Remember, this isn’t represented in dictionaries. They will show the symbol for the True T: Party. Even though Americans pronounce it ‘party’. So remember the rule. When a T or D comes between vowels and diphthongs, or after an R before a vowel or diphthong, like ‘party’, unless it starts a stressed syllable, flap the tongue. Sometimes, we drop the T or D completely. We leave the sounds out. This is an American habit. If you look up the words in the dictionary, the sounds are there. There are two cases when you might hear an American drop a T or D. First, when the T or D comes between two consonant sounds. For example, ‘exactly’. This word has the K, T, L consonants together. But most people pronounce it without the T. Exactly. Full pronunciation: exactly. Common pronunciation: exactly. Dropping the T between two consonants simplifies the pronunciation. Also, we often drop the T when it comes after an N. Many Americans say ‘cenner’ instead of ‘center’. Or ‘innerview’ instead of ‘interview’. This is a big topic. I have a whole series of videos on the pronunciation of T and D which you can find on my website. The True T and D sounds. Desk Stick Expect Stop T and D. Mad Not What The Flap T and D City Party Tidy Example words. Repeat with me: Best. Tt– Best. Time. Tt– Time. Do. Dd– do. Odd. –dd. Odd. There is no way to make a Stop T sound on its own It’s a lack of sound. Cut Better. Ra– Better. This video is one of 36 in a new series, The Sounds of American English. Videos in this set will be release here on YouTube twice a month. first and third Thursdays in 2016 and 2017. But the whole set can be all yours right now. The real value of these videos is watching them as a set, as a whole, to give your mind the time to take it all in an get the bigger picture. Most of the materials you’ll find elsewhere just teach the sounds on their own, in isolation. It’s a mistake to learn them this way. We learn the sounds to speak words and sentences, not just sounds. Move closer to fluency in spoken English. Buy the video set today. Visit rachelsenglish.com/sounds Available as a DVD or digital download.