when the question "What did you do last night?" is pronounced, do Americans tend to drop the "t" in the word "last" or is it just a glottal stop? I'm looking for feedback from native speakers. Thank you!

  • My experience that this is far too regionally variable around different parts of the US for a sensible rule to be deduced. Some dialects containing sloppy pronunciation is common. – Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩 Jan 7 '16 at 11:55
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    For me (AmE) the -n- of night softens the articulation of the -t- of last. The tongue occludes the air outflow by pressing against the ridge behind the top front teeth but then quickly releases to sound the nasal and the vowel of night. With last the vowel is sounded fairly far back in the throat, so that when the air is occluded the effect is felt in the throat. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 7 '16 at 12:55
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    Yep, it's perfectly normal to have no audible /t/ whatsoever. – snailplane Jan 7 '16 at 13:42
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    Here's a reference someone could use in an answer: books.google.com/books?id=9OWQGsOB62UC&pg=PA38 And a helpful site: rachelsenglish.com/hurricane-sandy – snailplane Jan 7 '16 at 15:45
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    I'm a non-native speaker, but I'd like to remind everyone that the following are not necessarily the same: what the speaker thinks they do, what they really do, what the listener hears, and what they think they hear. – Damkerng T. Jan 7 '16 at 16:32

The t is often elided due to the n. I use an alveolar stop to close out the s, and use that contact for the n, and release it for the i. I feel that's somewhat distinguishable from "lass night", as I use a velar stop to end the s instead.

These stops aren't plosives, they just block the airflow and are released without a puff. And also, this is with clear enunciation. I will note that I don't always elide the plosive t in "last night", but I seem to usually do so. And that "lass night" has a bit of a race between the velar and alveolar stops.

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I'm an American, I've lived primarily in New York, Ohio, and Michigan, fairly briefly in Missouri and Pennsylvania. Without conducting a careful study, I think almost everyone I've spoken to pronounces it "last nite", i.e. they do pronounce both "t"s, but the "t" in "last" tends to be less clearly enunciated than the "t" in night. (It's hard to describe such subtleties of pronunciation, probably would be better to record it and upload, but I'm not that ambitious this morning.)

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  • When I saw this question I thought, "Of course I pronounce the /t/", but when I compare how I say "last night" and "last week", the "t" in the first one is definitely significantly elided, if not entirely missing. Still sounds a bit different than if I say "Lass night" (Scottish ladies night, I guess), though. – Paul Jan 7 '16 at 19:23

Yes, the t in night is pronounced in standard American English. Having lived in several parts of the country, my experience is that pronunciation differences of this phrase are regional or cultural.

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    The OP is asking about the /t/ in last when it precedes night in connected speech. – snailplane Jan 7 '16 at 13:58

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