Speak English with Ease: Smooth and Easy English with the Rule of Three
Welcome to the fourth video of the four-video series about how to speak English with ease. If you haven’t watched the first three videos on the flap sound, the glottal stop T, and the nasal flap or the dropped T, then please watch those videos first (the links are above).
This four-video series will focus on the T consonant sound and the many ways that the T sound can be pronounced in American English. Just as a quick refresher: Why am I talking about the T sound? Well, in spoken English, the T consonant sound can change to a completely different type of T sound, and the reason for this is to help that word or phrase to be smoother, faster, and more connected. That’s what English wants - it wants to be smooth, and the T sound sometimes gets in the way of this smoothness.
In some words and phrases, the T sound changes to either a flap sound or a glottal stop T, and we practiced those pronunciations in the earlier two videos. We also practiced when the T sound disappears completely from the pronunciation, called the nasal flap, and this occurs when the T comes after a stressed N and before an unstressed vowel.
This video will discuss another situation in which the T sound disappears completely from the pronunciation.
The Rule of Three in American English
Have you heard about the Rule of Three? I’ve published a couple of videos about it, which you can find here or in the description (The Rule of Three in American English; The Rule of Three and "asked"), and if you haven’t heard about it yet, then watch those videos right now! The Rule of Three will change the way you speak English.
The Rule of Three states that whenever three or more consonants occur next to each other, the middle consonant is often dropped from the pronunciation.
This can happen within a single word, like
And it can happen when linking words together, like
The Rule of Three can apply to any three or more consonants, but it often occurs in words and phrases that contain a stop consonant in the middle.
And what do we know about those stop consonants? Well, they break up the flow of speech because they stop the airflow. That’s why they’re called stop consonants. The airflow is stopped, everything halts for a brief moment, and then the sound starts back up again.
Listen to the word facts again. I’ll pronounce it two ways: the first way will be using the Rule of Three, so no T sound. The second way will contain the T in the pronunciation. Which pronunciation sounds more natural to you?
Wow, it was hard to pronounce the T in that word! Could you hear how effortful it was for me?
And we know that spoken English wants to be smooth and connected, so many times that T sound changes to make a word or phrase easier to say. That’s what's happening here, and in this particular example, it’s the Rule of Three that’s dictating how this word is pronounced.
Facts, not facTs
How to Pronounce the Rule of Three in Phrases
The Rule of Three happens in phrases, too, when linking words together, like in this phrase:
Now, a native speaker could decide to pronounce the word text with its full pronunciation:
Especially if they wanted to emphasize that word for some reason or they prefer to use the full pronunciation.
But oftentimes, in fast, conversational speech, the T will be dropped.
How to Pronounce the Rule of Three in Conversations
Let’s listen to a few examples of the Rule of Three in conversations. But listen carefully. Your brain may automatically perceive that a T is being pronounced, but I promise you, in all of these examples, the T sound has been dropped.
Youglish: insists, scientists, attempts; send me a text message; The test was hard; I just went there.
English Pronunciation Practice: The Rule of Three
Let’s practice a few words and phrases that use the Rule of Three to drop the T sound from the pronunciation, and we’ll practice them up close and in slow motion. You’ll hear each word or phrase three times to help train your ears to hear the Rule of Three in action, then you’ll have a chance to imitate in the pauses.
Send me a text message.
I just went there.
Additional Rule of Three Practice: English Pro™
Looking for more Rule of Three practice? I’ve got you covered! You can practice the Rule of Three with me in English Pro™, my comprehensive online American accent training program, where you’ll have access to hundreds of practice videos and audio recordings that practice the Rule of Three in words, phrases, and sentences. Check out the description below for the link to learn more about English Pro™, and how we can work together during a live English class.
Additional Rule of Three Practice: YouTube Memberships
Or if you want to practice the Rule of Three now, then become a member of my YouTube channel by clicking the Join button below. All members have immediate access to practice videos that are exclusive to members of my YouTube channel, and you can start practicing right now. This is a great way to support my channel, and it helps me to continue providing you with free, awesome, English pronunciation lessons. So click on the Join button below and select the membership level that’s best for you.
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Thanks so much for watching, and I hope you have a great day!