I'm having a hard time figuring out the right placement and motions of the tongue when making this consonant. I watched a few videos on this topic. People say that in order to make the sound you don't want to be touching the roof of your mouth too much but you have to lightly bounce the tip of your tongue against the roof of the mouth. I have no idea how to do this. I tried doing it and I either touch the roof of the mouth too hardly and it sounds heavy and unclear or in effort to touch lightly, I end up accidentally pulling my tongue away and it doesn't even reach the place that it should. I would be really grateful for an explanation of what is that that tongue is doing when you make this sound. Thank you for the answers in advance!

  • Would it help to think of replacing it with a "d" sound? The difference between "ladder" and "latter" in American English is almost imperceptible even to native speakers, so if you can make that "d" sound you've basically got it made.
    – TypeIA
    Oct 11, 2019 at 20:12
  • The way I hear it, the "t" in "letter", "city", "pretty", etc. (mid-word) is the same as the initial "t" ("temporary", "towel",...) but in the middle of the word, the "t" doesn't get such a powerful puff of air with it, so it sounds a lot more like a "d" (but not strongly voiced either, as an initial "d" would be ["dying", "dummy",...]). Try experimenting with speaking a "d" (like "ledder" or "ciddy"), but speak the words quickly without dwelling too long on that consonant, ... and see what it sounds like.
    – Lorel C.
    Oct 11, 2019 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


It is similar to the "d" sound, but the main difference is that you lift your tongue from the bottom of the mouth and touch your top teeth near the top.

The tongue position at the start of t

While your tongue is touching your teeth, you push out a very small puff of air. This air will separate your tongue from your teeth and it will help make that "t" sound.

The "d" sound is similar in the puff of air, but it does not have the tongue touching the top teeth.

  • 5
    Is this really right? The way I (native speaker) make those sounds ("d" and "t"), the tongue is in exactly the same position for both, and it is the puff of air that is different, explosively forcing the tip of the tongue away from its resting place in a "t", but gently pushing/squeezing it away in the (voiced) "d". No one has ever told me I am speaking incorrectly, or sent me into speech therapy during elementary school.
    – Lorel C.
    Oct 12, 2019 at 19:11

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