When one word ends in a consonant sound and the next begins with a vowel sound, can you tell me how you say these words in American English?

  • can I..? (Can nai or Ca nai?)
  • take it (teɪ kit or teɪk kit?)
  • push it (pu shit or push shit?)
  • find out (fain-dout?)
  • bridge is (brid- ʒ iz or bri-dʒ iz?)
  • Put it in (put tit tin or pud dit din?)
  • like a (laiy-ka or laik-ka?)

Should the final sound always be shared between two words or should the final sound jump to the next word? What is the basic rule about that? Or does it depend on the accent? When I hear linking sounds in a long sentence, it’s difficult for me to understand. And is it strange if I say them without linking sound?


2 Answers 2


We very seldom create explicit separation between the last phoneme of the first word and the first phoneme in the second. In the cases where we do, it's usually if the sounds are the same and we want to make sure the distinction is clear. For example, someone giving his name as Bob Bridger over the phone might put a glottal stop after the first name so that the person on the other end doesn't think he said Bob Ridger.

The words you say above are all spoken fluidly, without stops. In order they would be (sorry, no IPA here)

Canai, taykit, pushit, findout, bridges, pudditin, lyka

Note that the t sounds usually get vocalized except for the final one: "put it in" becomes pudditin.

The sentence "Ed had edited it" sounds like "Eddədeddədədit." Really.

  • 2
    NB The t->d thing only happens in American English - in the UK it'll stay a "t", or in very informal speech become a glottal stop.
    – psmears
    Jun 7, 2011 at 20:13
  • @Robusto: It's actually easier for most people to say Ed had edited it better enunciated, though. And I'll just leave this IPA here: [ˌɛdədˈɛdəɾədˌɪʔ]. @psmears: It's an alveolar tap [ɾ], not an actual [d].
    – Jon Purdy
    Jun 7, 2011 at 20:17
  • @Jon: I know it's not technically the same as a [d], I was just following the terminology of the answer... but it still doesn't happen where I come from :)
    – psmears
    Jun 7, 2011 at 20:28
  • 2
    @Jon, both /d/ and /t/ become alveolar flap in that position so it's really more like [ˌɛɾəɾˈɛɾəɾəɾˌɪʔ]
    – nohat
    Jun 8, 2011 at 1:59
  • @nohat: Right you are. I love pathological examples like this.
    – Jon Purdy
    Jun 8, 2011 at 2:14

What you are asking about is called relaxed reduction, and I think it is safe to say that many of us naturally do it whenever possible (though many of us tend to enunciate better in situations where we feel the reduction would be confusing).

I think the best way to explain it in most cases is that the words share the linking sound to such an extent that they may appear to be a single word

Pushit (Only under a very different circumstance would I say push shit.)

Some American dialects do in fact do this more than others (the Southern drawl comes to mind, where Did you eat? can be reduced to jeet? or even yet?).

It is not strange to avoid these reductions, though you are more likely to be picked out as a foreigner (even if your accent is otherwise flawless).

  • 1
    +1 for forcing me to visualise a context where you might push shit. As opposed to shovelling it, which I hear often enough but fortunately don't often have to visualise in any great detail. Jun 7, 2011 at 19:27
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    – Moopp
    Jun 8, 2011 at 14:48

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