Pronunciation of "twenty"


Just a curiosity. “Twenty” is sometimes pronounced with the “t” audible, and sometimes as if the “t” wasn’t present. Does it depend if you are a British English speaker rather than an American English speaker, by any chance?

Thanks in advance.

PS: This is what I listened to about this on the site Forvo:

It depends on how careful your pronunciation is, as far as I am concerned.
The ‘t’ should be sounded.

oald8.oxfordlearnersdictionaries … ary/twenty

Hi Bev!

You answer my questions also in the heart of the night, now. How kind of you! I’ll get you a coffee, one day or other. :slight_smile:
Anyway, thanks for your reply. So in the future I’ll do better look in the Oxford dictionary (I didn’t know there were the BrE and AmE pronounces there).

See ya, my mentor. :slight_smile:

Forget the coffee for me. Make it a cup of strong tea.

OK Bev, it’s a deal. In fact I have to admit that I don’t like so much “your” coffee (American coffee, I mean). I don’t like much either tea but I really like scones! When I was in England several years ago, I had the opportunity to have a taste of them (yummy). :slight_smile:

Take care.

Yes, it does!
As Bev says, in British English it is always enunciated.
In American English however, the T in twenty can be silent.
Here are some other examples I’ve collected:

Vigilante (sounds like “vigilan’ni”)
Haunted (sounds like “haun’ned”)
Accountable (sounds like “accoun’nable”)
Mantel (sounds like “man’nel”)
Antivirus (sounds like “an’nivirus”)
Slanty (sounds like “slan’ny”)
Plaintiff (sounds like “plain’niff”)
Renter (sounds like “ren’ner”)
Counter (sounds like “coun’ner”)

Hope this clears this up. :slight_smile:

PS: actually in American English the letter T can be pronounced in three different ways. This video explains it in great detail:

I still think that’s a result of slovenly speech meeting local dialect, and the ‘t’ should actually be sounded.


Great job! Anyway I espouse Bev’s thesis: I’ll say twenty with no hesitation from now on! :wink:

For the rest, all right, I’ll give you too a cup of coffee or (strong) tea, if you prefer. :smiley:

Bye bye

Hi Francesco, Bev and Dean,

I can confirm what Rachel says in her video. What she relates about the T sound is the norm in spoken American English. I know American pronunciation can sometimes drive Brits crazy, but that is just the way things are on this side of the pond.

As for the word ‘twenty’, no, you’ll rarely hear the second T in that word when an American says it. Basically, that second T will generally only be clearly enunciated for reasons of emphasis. Otherwise, in normal conversation, it just isn’t there. I take issue with that pronunciation being termed as ‘slovenly’. It may be viewed as ‘slovenly’ on the British side of the pond, but on this side of the pond, it is simply normal, everyday pronunciation, and it is not restricted to just one or two local dialects. American speakers of English don’t give it a second thought if someone says ‘twenny’. In fact, if you insist on clearly enunciating the second T in ‘twenty’ all the time, you may well end up sounding affected to an American. :wink:

When it comes to words such as ‘forty’ or ‘fifty’, for example, then you’ll hear a D sound in American pronunciation – not a T. Here again, it is simply the usual pronunciation in the US.

[size=75]“At twenty years of age the will reigns; at thirty, the wit; and at forty, the judgment.” ~ Benjamin Franklin[/size]

You know, there are other sorts of words in which the Brits standardly leave out sounds which Americans clearly and fully pronounce. One need only think about the word “secretree”.

Should we view the British pronunciation of ‘secretary’ as ‘slovenly’ because they typically reduce the final two syllables to a single syllable?

Hi Amy,

Thanks for your input (I knew you would chime in :))) )!
By the way, which words in the following list would normally be pronounced without the “t”:


Thanks again.

Hi Dean,

Especially in quick speech, yes, those Ts are very likely to get completely swallowed up, though I would venture a guess that the T disappears slightly less often than it does in ‘twenty’. By the way, I don’t EVER pronounce the T in the word ‘often’. However, some do.

I pronounce sec/re/ta/ry, li/bra/ry and Feb/ru/ar/y with the appropriate number of syllables.

They all require the ‘t’.

Hi Amy and Bev
Thanks for your advice!

I dub you an Honorary American, then, Bev – in honor of your pronunciation of secretree.
What about the pronunciation of ‘laboratory’?


The problem is larger than you indicate, though, Amy. It’s not just the merging of the last two sylabubbles . It’s also the dropping of the ‘r’ leading to secatree, liebree and Febwaree (or even ‘Febree’!).

I can’t work out what I do with the ‘t’ in ‘often’. The more I think about it and try to analyse it the more confused I become. I suspect that I often drop the ‘t’, but not so often that it is the norm! %)

Hi Amy,

I really was expecting a your answer. I’m always happy to hear from you. :slight_smile:
Thanks for your help.

What about the pronunciation of “either”? Hehe, I’m joking, the matter is too wide…

oald8.oxfordlearnersdictionaries … ary/either