Some textbooks teach that when making the t sound, the front and sides of the tongue contact the alveolar ridge anteriorly and laterally.

However, I feel very uncomfortable if I do that when pronouncing t. I feel much more comfortable putting the tip of my tongue between my lower and upper teeth to pronounce a t.

Is it alright to put the tip of the tongue between the lower and upper teeth when pronouncing t?

  • 2
    I'm not linguist nor a phonologist, but I expect if you put your tongue between your teeth like that, you'll be pronouncing "th" as in the, not "t" as in tea; thus you'll mispronounce many t-words and are likely to be misunderstood.
    – Dan Bron
    Jan 9, 2015 at 13:43
  • The very tip of the tongue (as distinct from the surface of the tongue) is held against the ridge. The breath for the vowel following the /t/ causes a tiny "explosion" of air when the tongue is released. You can practice with the sound of a clock, tick, tock, tick, tock. It can help to whisper these words.
    – TimR
    Jan 9, 2015 at 14:12
  • @TimRomano Not the very tip, no—the blade. The normal English /t/ is laminal, not apical. Aug 2, 2015 at 15:11
  • @Janus Bahs Jacquet: Agreed. I was using "tip" imprecisely. I wasn't suggesting the tongue should be curled back so that the point of the tongue touches the ridge, only that much less of the tongue's surface should be touching the ridge than is touching it when the tip is held between the front teeth as the OP describes.
    – TimR
    Aug 2, 2015 at 17:19

2 Answers 2


You are describing a dental t as opposed to an alveolar t. Most varieties of English use an alveolar t, so using a dental will mark you (for most people) as a foreigner; but it will be perfectly well understood. (Some speakers of South African English use dental consonants).

  • i can feel my alveolar /T/ has less air come out than the dental /t/. Seem alveolar /T/ is 10% clearer than dental /t/. But not too much different
    – Tom
    Jan 10, 2015 at 1:21
  • Speakers of Indian English mostly use neither dental nor alveolar articulation, but 'retroflex', where the tip of the tongue is curled back to touch the palate. (Many Indian languages distinguish dental and retroflex consonants).
    – Colin Fine
    Jan 12, 2015 at 0:25

With the lips and teeth slightly parted, relax the tongue so that the tip is just visible behind the top and bottom teeth. Now pull it back quickly, while aspirating sharply - you will make the /T/ sound.

  • The tongue has to be touching something to start with- I think that part is missing in your description above.
    – Jim
    Jan 9, 2015 at 16:19

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