I've heard people pronounce the /t/ at the end of a word smoothly and naturally, as in 'light', 'night',...But when i say that /t/ at the end, I feel like i'm making a another syllable /tə/. Any ideas?

  • Could you say what your native language is? That might help people explain to you how to pronounce /t/ in English.
    – sumelic
    Dec 10, 2016 at 1:31
  • @sumelic Hi, english is not my first language. i learn it as a second language. I do know the /t/ pronunciation. Tounge tip touches the upper teeth, and then pulls back; the sound created with a puff of air. I just find it a little trouble when i have to say the final /t/
    – domino
    Dec 10, 2016 at 9:27
  • That kind of /t/ sound is a stop consonant. It's hardly "pronounced" by itself; it's almost more like a break in the flow of air. If you try and emphasize it, sounds like you're saying LIGHT-uh, as LawrenceC points out. Try asking native speakers to say "light time" and "lie time", and see if you can hear the difference, then try saying those phrases yourself.
    – stangdon
    Dec 10, 2016 at 17:35
  • You need to practice not releasing the t. Say light and keep your tongue in contact with the alveolar ridge. Do not pull it back. This is like saying lie and then quickly putting your tongue on the alveolar ridge and keeping it there. That's all there is to it. Jan 17, 2017 at 16:07

3 Answers 3


But when i say that /t/ at the end, I feel like i'm making a another syllable /tə/

You would say it like that if you want to emphasize the word. LIGHT-uh.

Try saying /tə/ but not using any voice in the 'ə' to approximate the sound.

  • I think you should add the word lighter, and its IPA to clarify you aren't referring solely to the OP's pronunciation of light
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 10, 2016 at 6:17

An English /t/ at the end of a word is usually pronounced without any audible release if there is no following vowel.

There are three stages in the production of a plosive sound /p, t, k, b, d/ or /g/:

First, there is the approach phase. This is when the lips or the tongue start to move to block off the air from the lungs to prevent it from leaving through the mouth.

Second there is a hold phase. This is when we have blocked off the air and the air pressure builds up behind the blockage as it is pushed upwards from the lungs.

Thirdly there is the release phase. In a typical plosive, as the air behind the blockage is suddenly released, we get audible plosion (think of the word explosion) as the air suddenly shoots out of the mouth.

However, how we pronounce a plosive depends on there it occurs within a syllable or word. A word final plosive will very often be pronounced without any audible release phase in English - so long as the next sound is not a vowel. So to achieve a more English word-final /t/, you should think of the /t/ finishing at the end of the hold phase. Think of it as not having any release phase at all.

Phonetics note: Of course there is a release phase for every plosive - it is just that it is inaudible. Unreleased stops result in death!


I'm Korean actually. You might be disappointed that I'm not a certified English pronunciation trainer either. But here I'll list out steps that have worked well out for me, so please if this works for you then be sure to vote it up.

The zeroeth step is to "forget the t you know." English pronunciation should be established separately, along with your native language pronunciation. So even when this doesn't come off as comfortable at first, please try memorizing each sound as steps to making it, or you'll get totally confused later because so many sounds sound so similar. (I gave up my "established" pronunciation because I kept failing at distinguishing "p"s and "f"s and "f"s and "th"s.) If you know how to make each of the sound, your brain will be able to handle it in a variety of ways (not only relying on your "ear", but also other parts of your brain participated in making such sound as well), yielding you clearer response. I don't know technical details yet.

  1. Give a little tension to your jaws, pulling them a little closer to your throat. This works for Koreans like me.
  2. Notice the tension right in your lower jaw. It is the addictive sense that keeps you use the tension.
  3. Say, "JAW," with your mouth open very wide. When making the sound, drop your jaw. Or alternatively, "PATH" should work.
  4. Relax your tongue. Let it naturally move to slightly just tap your incisors.
  5. "Shoot" your breath- sorry, I had no other expression in stock.
  6. Your tongue in touch with your incisors detach and make the desired sound.
  7. If you feel like you're actually making a somewhat "ch"-ish sound, give tension to your "buccal mucosa," as if you were making an uncomfortable/sarcastic smile, and then try again. lip-cheek-lining
  • 2
    In most varieties of English the contact is not with the upper incisors, it is on the alveolar ridge!!! Jan 16, 2017 at 10:42

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