English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Well, I usually say "twenny" instead of "twenty" (not "twendy" even). I recently noticed that I never heard the same from any native english speakers during any talks I ever had with them.

Recently I had a brief search on the 'net and it seems that it is somehow okay to say "twenny", but it might look the least correct pronunciation for most of the people, or they might think you have strange accent, etc.

So, my question is, is there any good reference which clearly proves saying "twenny" instead of "twenty" is totally correct or wrong?

P.S. You're most welcome to write your very personal opinion if you don't know any good references.


I've already looked at the major dictionaries and didn't find any of them lists "twenny" in their pronunciation's section, however I'm sure that I didn't made that up, but I heard that while ago. Maybe in a movie, maybe from someone, and that's why I'm looking for the answer.

share|improve this question
okay guys, why down vote? just say what's wrong with that? thanks. – Mahdi Jan 3 '13 at 18:39
Have you looked in a dictionary? As it stands, your question lacks sufficient prior research and is probably considered to be general reference. – coleopterist Jan 3 '13 at 18:51
For what it's worth, "twenny" is absolutely ubiquitous in Southern Ontario (whence I hail), and it wouldn't occur to me to pronounce "twenty" otherwise in any context. But then again, we do (in)famously call the capital city of Ontario /ˈtrɒnoʊ/... – Branimir Ćaćić Jan 3 '13 at 19:22
If one is going to ask (or answer) a question about pronunciation here, one should use standard English phonemic notation, not made-up spellings or 18th-century notation. English writing does not reproduce sounds, and trying to make it do so is a recipe for still more confusion. – John Lawler Jan 3 '13 at 19:30
God help us all if somebody asks how to pronounce "oysters". – T.E.D. Jan 3 '13 at 20:06
up vote 13 down vote accepted

The stop in syllables that end in a homorganic nasal-plus-stop cluster (in English, /mb, mp, nd, nt, ŋɡ, ŋk/) is often elided. Word-final /-mb/ and /-ŋɡ/ never occur in Modern English, for example, although their dumb Middle English spellings hang around.

Final /-nd/ does occur, though not always, but it's frequently neutralized with /-nt/, especially after a stressed vowel and preceding an unstressed one. As in twenty.

This interacts with the neutralization of /d/ and /t/ in the same environment; in American English, both go to [ɾ], as in betting and bedding, which differ -- if at all -- only in the allophonic vowel length of stressed /ɛ/ in the first syllable of bedding.

Upshot: In American English, /'twəni/ is the normal pronunciation, /'twɛni/ is somewhat more formal and careful, and /'twɛnti/ is fastidiously careful.

share|improve this answer
You may quote me. – John Lawler Jan 3 '13 at 19:33
Charles-James Bailey in his "Four low-level pronunciation rules of Northern States English" says that /'twɛni/ > /'twəni/ has to do with the retraction of light nuclei. He also links this further with pen-pin merger. Of course, I am not presenting the whole picture of what he says. What do you think of that? I can share his paper with you, if you dont have it. – RainDoctor Jan 3 '13 at 19:37
I'm not presenting the whole picture, either, not in ten lines. C-J is correct; there's a whole lot going on here. But this is not LOLPhonology. – John Lawler Jan 3 '13 at 19:39
I think of /'twɛni/ as the normal pronunciation, and never say /'twəni/ (although it doesn't sound wrong to me, so I have probably heard it). The first vowel clearly depends on the dialect of American English. – Peter Shor Jan 4 '13 at 17:26
Does this happen even when the stop is unvoiced? 'hunt', 'dump', 'junk' all pronounce the last stop. Isn't that almost always true? What about the 'finger/singer' difference? Also, what if you're from Long gIsland? – Mitch Jan 5 '13 at 3:12

ODO on BrE: Pronunciation /ˈtwɛnti/
ODO on AmE Pronunciation: /ˈtwentē/1

Speakers of English may get lazy and not articulate the second t sound clearly, or at all. However it is non-standard. There are some dialects (for example, London and the Thames Estuary) where it is reasonably common. Because it is non-standard, it appears in writing only when actually representing this speech, as indicated in the Wiktionary entry.

1 I believe these do in fact represent the same pronunciation.

share|improve this answer
Pretty sure this is normal for almost all the XXXty-YYY numbers in most speakers when not being careful. Listen to a little kid count up to 100 out loud as fast as they can. See what happens? Now do it yourself. Same thing, right? – tchrist Jan 3 '13 at 19:06
thanks Andrew for explanation, Wiktionary reference and mentioning Eye dialect, I learned something new! :) – Mahdi Jan 3 '13 at 19:06
@tchrist It's easy with twen'y and seven'y and possibly nine'y, more difficult with eighty. That would be more likely to resemble /d/. – Andrew Leach Jan 3 '13 at 19:11

Twenty with the 't' pronounced is more of a British (Colonial English) way to say it whereas 'Twenny' is American English (native speakers). Hope it helps.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.