T Before and After N

How to Changes Near N

The T sound rules on the previous page (T = D, TU and TI) are standard American. They apply to all situations from formal to casual.

The T sound rules on this page are optional. They are widely used in casual speech. 

The American T sound is affected by the letter N when it comes before or after a T. These T and N rules are used by people every day. And yet, most Americans will use the T sound at times when they want to be clear.

T after N

When T is in the middle of a word, and it comes just after N, it can be silent, as in internetinterviewenterprise or elemental. This rule also applies when words that end in nt gain an –ed or –ing ending as in wantedpointed and accounting.

T before N

When T comes before N and it is in the middle of a word, there is a stopped T and a strong N, as in certainlyfountainthreaten and acquaintance. A stopped T is when the tongue goes to the T position, but only stops the sound. A stopped T in the middle of the word sounds like a small break in sound. 


These rules will not work if T is on the stress, as in intelligentintention or contain

How to Remember the T and N Rules

Of course, asking yourself if T comes before or after N is not practical in everyday speech. Start with the words on these lists. Spend some time listening to conversations at work or on  television to hear people reducing the T sounds near N. Gradually, you will develop the words that are important to your own vocabulary. 

When to Use the T and N Rules

As stated above, Americans often use the T when they want to be clear. Yet, because American English is informal by nature, the T does not need to be used often. When giving a speech, it is best to use the T sound. In conversation, however, the T sound might be used at first and reduced later. For instance, if talking to coworkers about an interview, a person might speak the T in interview once or twice at the beginning of the conversation, and then use a silent T for the rest of the conversation. On the other hand, some people will change the T sounds all the time and only choose a T if the listener does not understand.

750 Business WordsT Sounds Main page
* http://www.speakmethod.com is a part of I.E. Tutoring, Seattle, WA, which holds the copyright to all materials. Subscribers may print images and pages for individual use, but not for commercial use or distribution. *

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