Free Sounds Guidebook

The Nasal Flap in American English


(Video Transcript)


Hi, I’m Julie with San Diego Voice and Accent, and in this video you’ll learn all about the nasal flap.


The flap /ɾ/ vs. nasal flap /ɾ̃/

In previous videos, I’ve discussed the flap, which is used in the words water, butter, and video. This flap is also called the alveolar flap because the tongue tip lightly touches the alveolar ridge when you make this sound. 


But American English also uses another type of flap, and this one is called the nasal flap /ɾ̃/. It’s used in words like:




and wanted


Look at the spelling of the words, and you’ll notice that they each contain the “nt” spelling combination, but something happened to the T sound. Listen again.





I didn’t pronounce the T sound. Instead, I used what is called a nasal flap, which is essentially when the T sound is omitted completely, and only the N is pronounced.


I’ll say these words again, and first I’ll pronounce them with a nasal flap and then without a nasal flap. Listen to the difference in the NT combination. 


Twenty, twenty.

Internet, internet.

Wanted, wanted.

When can you use the nasal flap?

Here are the rules to when you can use a nasal flap. When the letters “n” and “t” occur next to each other, and they are between vowels, and the second vowel is in an unstressed syllable, you can use a nasal flap instead of the true T sound.


The nasal flap is optional - it is up to the speaker to decide if they want to use it or not - but it’s important to know that there are some words that native speakers are much more likely to pronounce with a nasal flap, and other words aren’t as likely to have it.


Practice the nasal flap

Let’s practice a few words that native speakers may pronounce with a nasal flap. I’ll say each word three times, and then you’ll have a chance to repeat. Then I’ll use the word in a sentence, and you’ll have a chance to repeat.


You owe me twenty bucks.


What did we do before the internet?


I wanted to leave at noon.


I live in the center of town.


You pay at the front counter.


Your fingerprints will help to identify you.

I hope this video helped you to learn how to use the nasal flap. Thanks for watching! And I'd love to hear from you - contact me to learn how we can work together to perfect your American English pronunciation!


Julie Cunningham | San Diego Voice and Accent Julie Cunningham | San Diego Voice and Accent Julie Cunningham | San Diego Voice and Accent

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