Linking with the P /p/ Consonant

Mar 15, 2021

Linking with the P /p/ Consonant


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This video will discuss how to link words together using the P /p/ consonant, one of the stop consonants in American English. The P /p/ consonant, like other stop consonants, can be pronounced differently depending on where it occurs in the word and sentence, and depending on what sound comes after the P /p/ consonant. Sometimes the P /p/ consonant is unreleased (like in "Top Gun"), and sometimes it actually moves to the next word and is released (like in "cup of coffee")! Perfect your American English linking skills in this video and practice with me at the end!.

(Video Transcript)


Hi, I’m Julie with San Diego Voice and Accent, and in this video you’ll learn how to link words together using the P consonant.

The P /p/ consonant

The P consonant is a stop consonant. This means that the airflow is stopped somewhere along the vocal tract - somewhere between the vocal cords and the lips. For the P consonant, the airflow is stopped at the lips. 




You probably learned to pronounce the P sound like this, /p/, /p/, /p/, with an audible puff of air that comes out as the lips open up at the end of the P sound. This can happen in a word like 






Did you hear the /p/ sound at the end? That was made when my lips opened up and released the airflow. 



Linking with P /p/: Consonant to consonant

However, the P consonant is not always fully released, especially when it comes at the end of a word and the next word begins with a consonant, and especially when it’s a stop consonant. 


In this case, what usually happens is the P sound is unreleased, meaning the lips come together to make the P sound, and then the lips stay closed. There isn’t a release of air at the end. 


Here’s what an unreleased P sounds like in the word top.






Notice how my lips stay closed at the end of the P consonant.



Now, let’s look at the P consonant in a phrase like Top Gun.


I’ll say it slowly. Watch my lips as I pronounce the second P sound. Is it released or unreleased?

Top Gun


I pronounced this with an unreleased P consonant. Listen again.


Top Gun


It’s not, Top Gun, with an audible release of air. It’s, Top Gun, with an unreleased P sound. 


Some people consider this to be a mini-released P consonant because the release happens as you say the following consonant.


Top Gun


I’ll demonstrate an unreleased P consonant, a mini-released P consonant, and a fully released P consonant. Listen closely to the P sound and see if you can hear the difference.


Top Gun


Top Gun


Top Gun

Either the unreleased P or the mini-released P would be acceptable for linking, but the fully released P is too much of a release, and it disrupts the fluency of the phrase.

Linking with P /p/: Consonant to vowel

I’ve discussed how to link with the P consonant when the next word or syllable begins with a consonant...but what if the next word begins with a vowel? Luckily, this type of linking is a little bit easier to imitate. 


When one word ends in a P consonant, and the next word begins with a vowel, like in the phrase cup of coffee, native speakers usually take the P consonant and put it onto the beginning of the next word.


So the phrase cup of coffee is really said like “kuh - puhv coffee” 


“Kuh - puhv”


“Kuh - puhv”


It’s not, cup of with a mini-released P, it’s “kuh-puhv”, with the P sound placed at the beginning of the word of.

Linking with P /p/: Practice

Let’s practice linking words together using the P consonant, and in these examples, the next word will begin with either a consonant or a vowel. Remember that if the next word begins with a consonant, the P sound will be unreleased or have a mini-release. If the next word begins with a vowel, the P sound will be moved to the beginning of the next word.


I’ll say each phrase three times, and I want you to repeat in the pauses. 


Keep it up

Flip flop

Help us out.

Nap time.

I hope you enjoyed the video! Thanks for watching, and please let me know if you have questions about how to improve your American accent!