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Stop Sounds Overview – American English Pronunciation

80% of English words have at least one stop sound, so if you want to speak like an American, you need to pronounce them correctly. In this video, you can learn little-known aspects of the American stop sounds pronunciation, such as aspiration, flapping, glottal sound, and many others.

Quick Links:
• What are the consonant sounds? 0:20
• What are the stop consonant sounds? 0:53
• Types of stop sounds: 01:14
• Voicing: 2:58
• Aspiration (making a puff of air): 04:01
• Final Stop Rule: 05:05
• Vowel length rule: 06:04
• Positional variations: 07:37
• Flap ‘T’: 07:58
• Glottal ‘T’: 08:39
• Dropped /t/: 09:22
• Summary: 10:00
• Stop sounds quiz: 11:19

Related Videos:
►Interactive Vowel Sounds Chart: American English Pronunciation

►Consonant Sound / l / as in “let”- American English Pronunciation

►Advanced American English Pronunciation Exercise: the /ŋ/ (NG) sound

►Subscribe to Sounds American:



Hello there! This is the “Sounds American” channel.
In this video, we’re going to review the stop consonant sounds.
Before we start, let’s talk about what the consonant sounds are.
Here’s a definition from Sounds American:
A consonant sound is a speech sound in which the air stream is at least partially blocked when leaving your mouth.
For example, look at how the air is blocked by the tip of your tongue and flows around it when you make the /l/ sound, as in the word “let.”
Now, onto the stops sounds.
This is the second largest group of consonant sounds in American English.
Why are they called the stop sounds? Because when you pronounce them, the air stream is first stopped – or blocked – in your mouth and then released with a puff.
For example, the /p/ sound as in the word “pie” is a stop consonant.

Types of Stop Sounds
In this introduction to the stop consonants we’ll cover the basics. In our future videos, we’ll talk about each stop sound in detail and provide practice exercises.
There are six distinct stop sounds in American English. They differ by how and where you stop the air in your mouth.
• You can stop the air with your lips and make the /p/ or /b/ sounds, like in the words “pie” and “buy.”
• You can also stop the air with the tip of your tongue at the alveolar ridge. If you do so, you’ll make the /t/ or /d/ sounds, like in the words “ten” and “den.”
• And finally, you can stop the air with the back of your tongue in your throat and make the /k/ or /g/ sounds, like in the words “kite” and “guy.”

As you may have noticed, we like charts. Here’s one for the stops sounds.
See how all the stops are grouped in pairs? Once again, they are grouped by how and where you stop the air in your mouth.
• /p/ – /b/
• /t/ – /d/
• /k/ – /g/

The sounds in the right-hand column are pronounced with your voice. These are the voiced stop sounds.
Listen: /b/ , /d/, /g/.

The sounds in the left-hand column are pronounced without adding your voice. They are called the voiceless stop sounds.
Listen: /p/ , /t/, /k/.

Don’t confuse the voiced and voiceless sounds, as voicing may change the meaning of words.
• “pay ” — “bay”
• “town” — “down”
• “coat” — “goat”

You may also have noticed that the voiceless stop sounds are pronounced with a stronger puff of air. And that leads us to our next topic:

Aspiration or Making a Puff of Air
Stop sounds exist in every language in the world. What makes American pronunciation of these sounds so special? It’s aspiration.
Aspiration is actually a big deal in American English.

Depending on the position of a stop sound in a word, you either make a puff of air or you don’t.

Don’t worry, there’s a rule which is easy to remember.
Here it goes:
• If a stop sound starts a word or a stressed syllable, it’s pronounced with a puff of air. For example, “pay,” “pass,” “compare.”
• At the end of most words (and syllables) stop sounds are pronounced without a puff of air. For example, “lap,” “sheep,” “update.”

This is called the “final stop” rule. The final stop rule is most often used in conversational speech. Please, note, that if you make a puff of air, you’ll be understood, but you won’t be speaking with an American accent.

• “I like that hat”
• “I don’t talk like that”

Many non-native English speakers believe that Americans drop or swallow the stop sounds at the end of words. That’s not quite right. The final stops are always pronounced, just without a puff of air.
BTW, if you’re keen on the terminology, stop sounds pronounced with the puff of air are called “aspirated stops.” Stops pronounced without the puff, are called “unaspirated stops.”
These are essentially positional variants of the same sounds.
Stop Sounds Overview – American English Pronunciation

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