Not Pronouncing the ‘D’ & ‘T’ – English Speaking Habits

a cat sticking its tongue out, representing the tongue-twisting nature of people not pronouncing their d's and t's in common English speech
Don Hassan

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Dropping the D & T

We’re here to look at a funny habit that many English speakers have. Sometimes we drop the “d” or the “t” sound in the middles or ends of words. This is more common if that “d” or “t” is next to another consonant, and especially if it’s between two consonant sounds.

Examples

  • “I can’t hear a thing you say.” Pronounced, I cann hear a thing you say.
  • “There’s going to be a band night this evening.” Pronounced, There’s going to be a bann night this evening.

Above, the “t” in can’t gets lost between a “nnn” and a “hhh” sound. The “d” in band gets lost between two “nnn” sounds. This doesn’t always happen as a rule, but it is common for many people.

The “d” and “t” sounds when next to consonants are already pronounced weakly in normal cases, so it wasn’t so hard to completely omit them. Still, the sound is not simply dropped, but usually, the sound before it gets a little stressed. Remember, that’s like the “n” sound in I cann hear a thing you say.

Taking other letters along

In some words, the “d” and “t” take some other letters away with them. This can be heard in some accents with the words don’t, doesn’t, and didn’t, among others. Watch how many sounds get dropped from these words.

Examples

  • “He doesn’t look like he knows what that means.” Pronounced, He ‘onn’ look like he knows what that means.
  • “Elvis also played the guitar, didn’t he?” Pronounced, Elvis also played the guitar, dinn’ he?

This might look pretty funny on paper, but it sounds smoother in speech. Again, not all English speakers have these habits when talking, but they can be noticed in several accents. This usually happens so that the words can come out easier since so many “d’s” and “t’s” right next to each other just don’t seem natural.

It’s some people’s way of making the speech flow better. Of course, lots of people may find these habits weird or think they’re uneducated, and there are plenty of those that do try to annunciate all their letters. This is just another habit that English learners may come across when they practice their new language.

Read more: about dropping d’s and t’s especially in American English

Find more posts like this in the Blog.

More examples

I havenn heard from you in a while. (haven’t)

It’s hard to benn metal. (bend)

Chris ‘onn’ even know how to change a tire. (doesn’t)

I dinn’ see that one coming. (didn’t)

Using ‘They’ for One Person – English Speaker Habits

What is ‘They’?

“They” is a common word, right? It is taught that “he” is for a male and “she” is for a female. If it’s me and you, then it is “we.” And if it’s multiple others, then it’s “they.” But English speakers have this funny habit of “they” that can be tricky for second-language students. “They” is often used to talk about one person. But normally, it is used to refer to a group of people whether all male, all female, and any other possible mixture of genders. Technically, it’s also used to refer to a group of nouns in general, but we’re focusing on people here.

“Correct” usage:

  • There are a lot of people at the door, and they don’t look happy.
  • The tree was full of apples, but they all fell down

The Singular ‘They’

Informally though, “they” can be used to refer to just one person. That’s what we call “they” as a singular pronoun. This may be for a couple of reasons.

Usually, it’s when we don’t know the person’s gender.

This can happen a lot in English because many professions and occupancies don’t denote a specific gender (e.g. teacher, classmate, student, doctor). In other words, we don’t know just from hearing the word if that person is a male or female.

This also may happen if the person’s gender is irrelevant to the conversation or if we want to hide the person’s gender on purpose. Another case is for gender-fluid people or people that consider themselves as a “they.”

At this point, it’s more a choice of respect for that individual, but this is probably the least common instance of using “they” for a single person.

He or She – She or He

Normally, the grammatically correct way to refer to someone whose gender is yet to be revealed is by saying “he or she/she or he.”

Habit:

-“I met with my new doctor yesterday.”

-“Really? Were they nice to you?”

More correct:

-“I met with my new doctor yesterday.”

-“Really? Was he or she nice to you?”

Other Forms

The same goes for the object position where it changes to “them.”

Habit:

  • “What about your cousin? Are you going to the festival with them?”

More correct:

  • “What about your cousin? Are you going to the festival with her or him?”

I’m sure this might sound really weird if you’re learning, but that’s what lots of English speakers do. It doesn’t quite look correct on paper, but this is a very common habit.

We also do the same for possessive cases, using “their.”

Habit:

  • “One of my classmates left their bag in the lunch yard.”

More correct:

  • “One of my classmates left his or her bag in the lunch yard.”

Using the Right Pronoun

Again, this is normally used when we don’t know the gender of the person or if we intentionally want to hide it. When we do know the person’s gender, then we use whatever the correct pronoun is.

Incorrect (assuming John is a male):

  • “What about your cousin, John? Are they taking you to the festival?”

Correct:

  • “What about your cousin, John? Is he taking you to the festival?”

Even though saying “his or her/her or his” is more grammatically correct, it sounds unusual or very formal to many English speakers, especially in a casual setting. It might be preferred in more formal settings though, like on the news, in business meetings, or in formal papers and articles. Otherwise, it’s completely normal to do this, even if grammar teachers won’t like it.

I wrote the examples as Habit and More Correct because saying “they/them” in this way is so common in English that it’s almost an accepted rule despite being technically incorrect. If you’re talking casually, I would urge you to use this form instead of “he or she/she or he” because it sounds very formal. It may be the better option for formal settings though, so keep that in mind. Don’t worry too much about it though. If you’re learning English, no one should hold it against you if you use one or the other.

Other Examples

  • “We hired a new employee at the company, but I still haven’t met them.” (gender is unknown)
  • “Your friend bought you flowers? They sound like such a sweet person!” (gender is unknown or is irrelevant)
  • “My son got a new principal at his school, but I still don’t know their name. They don’t start until Thursday though.” (gender is unknown)
  • — “My cousin started their new job yesterday.” — “Really? Is your cousin a he or a she?” — “Does it matter?” (gender is intentionally hidden)
  • “Dannika is my gender-fluid friend, remember? They’re a big fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.” (the person in reference is gender-fluid, identifies as “they”)

**Thank you for reading and wanting to learn these fun English habits! If you want to read more on this subject, check out this article on APA Style. Read about other English-speaker habits on the Blog. As always, take care and keep up your studies! They will certainly pay off. Peace.

Asking Questions with or without ‘Do’ & ‘To be’? – English Habits

There is a habit that many people have and, maybe, don’t know it. In casual speech, many English speakers tend not to form questions properly. This can happen on purpose so that the speaker can make themselves not sound too formal. Sometimes though, it can be an accident. Well, I’m not here to say whether it is right or wrong but just to show you English learners what’s happening when you hear this. To refresh your memory on the right way to ask questions, you can read this page. Read about other English speaker habits on the Blog. Following are two habits with asking questions that English speakers have:

Questions without “Do”

One of the most noticeable question-related habits is with the verb, to “do.” This little word is confusing for many non-English speakers, but it helps us understand that what we are saying is a question. In other words, it’s an “auxiliary.” With that said, “do” gets left out of a lot of questions in regular conversation.

  • “What you want from me?”

Correct is: What do you want from me?

You can see that “do” just gets dropped out. This also happens in questions that don’t have question words (AKA What, Where, Who, etc.)

  • “You have a dollar I can borrow?”

Correct is: Do you have a dollar I can borrow?

If you speak a language like Spanish, then you do this regularly anyway. “Do” just lets us know that we’re forming a question without having to change our tone of voice to sound more “questiony.”

Questions without “To be”

Another habit people have when forming questions is leaving out the verb “to be” where it should be.

  • “What you doing this weekend?”

Correct is: What are you doing this weekend?

Just like with “do” before, the version of “to be” (are) gets completely dropped. This habit is more common in longer questions. It would usually sound weird in a short question with only a few words.

  • “Who you?” This sounds weird. It’s better to say, Who are you?

Doing this with questions that describe an action is more common in general casual English. Doing it in questions where the main verb is “to be” sounds somewhat uneducated and very improper. In “What are you doing?”, doing is the main verb because that’s the main action. In the question “Who are you?”, are is the main verb because, well, it’s the only verb.

  • “What your name?” This sounds very improper. It’s better to say, What‘s your name?

Remember, people do this without really thinking about it. It’s more for you to understand what’s happening as opposed to trying to memorize this feature. This habit also can happen in questions without question words, of course.

  • “That going to be a problem?”

Correct is: Is that going to be a problem?

A Note …

These are pretty common habits for many English speakers, though not all. It can depend on region or accent, and some habits are more common with certain accents than others. Because these habits are widely practiced, many people don’t even notice them in casual speech. But beware; sometimes dropping the “do” or “to be” can sound very improper, incorrect, and make the speaker sound sloppy or uneducated. Listen to other English speakers and pay attention to how people react to the things they say. This is a good way to tell if that habit is acceptable or not in X situation.

More Examples

Without “do”:

“What __ you think about the new mayor?”

“__ They know they’re being watched?”

“__ He just say that?”

Without “to be”:

“__ You some kind of genius or something?”

“What __ we doing here, anyway?”

“__ That a threat?”

**Hey again! Thanks for reading and learning more, my wonderful reader. Continue to be encouraged in your learning journey. You can do it! And share with us anything that’s on your mind to share about this topic, if you can. Talk soon…

Featured image credit: by Emily Morter on Unsplash

English Speaker Habits Using ‘Got’ – Quick Tip

If you’ve been studying English, you know there are many possible meanings of the word “get.” There are so many uses that it has become notoriously difficult for English learners to know how to use. The past tense of that word is “got,” and it is no exception to this wild and confusing system of uses and meanings. I’m not here to explain all the possible meanings of “got”. Instead, I specifically want to tell you about some habits that English speakers have when we talk. You’ll be able to read more quick tips like this on the Blog. Hopefully, this can clear things up a bit more (or confuse you a bit more)!

Got and Have, which one is right?

One habit that many English speakers have is saying “got” where they should be using “have.” This is where “have” means to possess something or needing to do something. This use is quite informal and is used more in casual speech. Read more about that here.

  • I got five rooms in my house.

More correctly would be: I have five rooms in my house.

A similar habit that people have is in situations where “have” is used in the present perfect. We might mean to say “have got,” but “have” gets completely taken out. Here’s an example:

  • I got to leave in five minutes.

More correctly is: I have (I’ve) got to leave in five minutes.

Because most of the time saying “have” and “have got” means the same thing, it can be hard to tell which of the two cases the speaker is using. Either way, they are referring to possession or a need to do something.

Another Note

In British-style English (British, Australian, South African, etc.), I notice it can be more common to say “have got” in place of “have.”

British: — Have you got any gum?

I’ve got some. Here you go.

Neutral: — Do you have any gum?

I have some. Here you go.

Again, I’m not saying only British-style accents use this. It’s just more common in those accents than in the American-style accents. And remember that all English speakers don’t have the habits listed above. Like any language, the region, social class, and personal experiences of the speaker play a role in how the individual talks. Still, you can bet lots of English speakers talk like this!

Read More Examples:

“Do you got a dress? I need one for the party.”

“Marissa got three kids? She looks so young!”

“Listen, I got to tell you something.”

“We got to go, hurry up!”

**Thank you for coming, curious readers! Have you heard English speakers talk like this? Do you think you could correct the example sentences with the right grammar? You’re doing great for seeking to learn more about this wonderful language! Keep on learning, my friends.

Working That English Muscle

Websites for practicing your skills

My English Pages: https://www.myenglishpages.com/

  • Practice general language skills, including some exercises and a blog.

Learn English British Council: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/

  • Blogs and interactive exercises to help with all parts of English learning for any level. The focus is more on British English.

Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/freelanguagelessons

  • Find online courses, audiobooks, and even movies in English and many other languages.

Espresso English: https://www.espressoenglish.net/

  • Bite-sized lessons about English topics, including short videos and a blog.

English Club: https://www.englishclub.com/

  • General English practice, including some varied exercises, a forum and a writing space.

English Super Site: https://englishsupersite.com/

  • General English practice, especially good for understanding confusing words and terms. It has lots of little quizzes to test your knowledge too.

Perfect English Grammar: https://www.perfect-english-grammar.com/

  • So many grammar exercises and explanations.

English-At-Home: https://www.english-at-home.com/

  • Has great tips about language points and skills, including some courses and guided practice.

EC English: https://www.ecenglish.com/en

  • Online English courses and practice, including some live courses and finding in-person destination courses.

K12 Reader: https://www.k12reader.com/

  • Assistance in reading skills with lots of reading exercises and worksheets, especially for young learners.

Engoo: https://engoo.com/app/materials/en

  • A wide array of practice, including current news articles, pronunciation, describing pictures, and lots of helpful conversation practice. They even have test prep.

Englisch-Hilfen: https://www.englisch-hilfen.de/en/

  • There are lots of exercises and games to help with grammar and vocabulary, including printable worksheets. I know they sound German, but trust me, they teach English.

English in 10 Minutes: https://englishin10minutes.com/

  • Here you can practice English by listening to quick podcasts with transcripts included, or do worksheets and learn about the importance of listening skills. The podcasts stories come from around the world and are pretty interesting.

Ludwig.guru: https://ludwig.guru/

  • This website is like a super dictionary. Besides giving you a simple definition, you can find translations, see the words in context, compare the word you are looking for to other words, and even see how popular the word is in daily speech. Ludwig is a great tool for being certain what word you want to use in English.

ELLLO: https://www.elllo.org/

  • A big library of video and audio lessons where you can practice listening skills and test your English knowledge. The audios come from different countries and accents too, so it’s a great place to get familiar with a variety of English speeches. Check it out!

Do you know of any other sources that are great for English learning or practice? Tell me down below! And let me know how these websites have worked for you.