T and D Sounds

t:(top, it, later)

d:(do, had, made)

The T and D sounds are often studied as a pair because both sounds are stop consonants. They are produced in similar ways, but the T sound is voiceless and the D sound is voiced. What does all of this mean? Read on to find out.

How to pronounce the T and D sounds

The voiceless (unvoiced) T sound (IPA symbol: t) can be found in English words such as it, got, hattoy, top, late, and butter. 
(It is important to note that there are a few different ways to make the T sound. In this lesson, we study the true T sound. This is the most common way to make the T sound.) 

The voiced D sound (IPA symbol: d) can be found in English words such as daddo, did, sad, said, and made. 

Voiced and voiceless sounds

In the English language, we use many voiced sounds. That means that the vocal cords vibrate when you say that sound. The D sound is a voiced sound because the vocal cords vibrate when you make the sound.
The T sound is a voiceless or unvoiced sound because the vocal cords do not vibrate when you make the sound. Instead, we use a puff of air to make the sound. 

Stop consonants

The T and D sounds should be studied together because they are both stop consonants made in the same part of the mouth. Stop consonants are made when the flow of air through your mouth is stopped by either your tongue or lips. This causes a build-up of air. When the air is released, it makes a small, explosive sound. 
To make the T and D sounds, your tongue stops the flow of air at the front of your mouth. In both of these sounds, the tip of your tongue presses against the back of your top teeth. The sides of your tongue will also press against the upper side teeth to stop the flow of air. There is more air released for the T sound, and less air released for the D sound
Other stop consonants include

  • P and B Sounds (Lesson 18)
  • K Sound (kid, lock)
  • Hard G Sound (bugget)

The T and D sounds are very similar. It is easiest to learn the differences between these two sounds by watching and hearing someone say them. Watch this cool video from Rachel's English to hear and see the differences between the T and D sounds. (Notice that Rachel shows a few different ways to make the T sound.)

Practice the voiced D sound
Practice the voiced D sound by saying these words. Hold a piece of paper or your hand in front of your mouth to make sure you are voicing the consonant and not using a puff of air. The paper should not move much when you make a voiced sound.

  • dad
  • do
  • did
  • dog
  • mad
  • sad
  • bad
  • done
  • loud
  • and

Now practice the voiceless T sound
Use a piece of paper to practice the voiceless T sound. When you say this sound, you should release a puff of air from your mouth that moves the paper. Your vocal cords should not vibrate. 

  • to
  • top
  • it
  • get
  • hot
  • pot
  • to
  • butter
  • later
  • what

Finally, practice the sounds side-by-side
Remember to voice the D sound and use a puff of air for the T sound!

D

T

do

to

did

tot

bad

bat

and

ant

sad

sat

Challenge words! 
These words have both sounds! Practice them slowly.
The T sounds are in blue. The D sounds are in green.

  • today
  • Tuesday
  • Saturday
  • dot
  • tried
  • diet
  • date
  • wanted

Now say these sentences out loud.
The T sounds are in blue. The D sounds are in green:
1) Get it down.
2) It was hot today.
3) What did she do at the top?
4) Did it stop at the bottom?
5) Dan and Tina had a date on Tuesday.

 

Good job! Let’s move on!

 

Giới thiệu về Cô Nhã

Cô Nhã (thạc sĩ chuyên ngành giảng dạy ngôn ngữ tại đại học Queensland, Australia), giáo viên Đại học Ngoại ngữ đã có kinh nghiệm dạy IELTS hơn 20 năm. Cùng với nhóm giáo viên của Đại học Ngoại ngữ trong những năm qua cô đã giảng dạy cho hàng ngàn học sinh, sinh viên, người đi làm. Rất nhiều trong số này đã đạt được 7.5 đến 8.5 trong kỳ thi IELTS.

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