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When a word ending with the /d/ or /t/ sound is pronounced and the next word starts with a consonant, the sounds /d/ or /t/ are silent. For example: I used to play tennis.

My question is related to the regular verbs. Consider:

I managed to do it.

If the /d/ sound is silent in this case, this then is like pronunciating I manage to do it. The context will decide if the tense is present or past.

Does this stand?

  • It is incorrect to say that the letters are not pronounced in this scenario. They are typically greatly muted, but there is a difference in the pronunciation of "use" and "used" in "This is the racket I use to play tennis" vs "I used to play tennis". Whether the listener can detect this slight difference, though, depends on a number of factors. – Hot Licks Jan 16 '17 at 3:46
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    (In the above, "use" is pronounced '"youzz" while "used" is pronounced "yousst", with no "z" sound.) – Hot Licks Jan 16 '17 at 3:48
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    @HotLicks Would you pronounce I managed/manage to do it both the same? – Alejandro Jan 16 '17 at 4:02
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    @Mari-LouA - I manage to get up at 6am every morning. Why don't you try it? !! – Dan Jan 16 '17 at 11:50
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    @HotLicks Used is pronounced differently but not like that: "This is the racket I use to play tennis" and "...used to play tennis" are almost identical (z sound). "This is the racket I used to play tennis with" doesn't have the z sound. The verb is actually different -- one is employment, the other is habit. – Andrew Leach Jan 16 '17 at 12:17
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In ordinary speech all of the following (and many others similar) are ambiguous - is the speaker meaning present or past?

I like(d) to drink coffee.

I hope(d) to see him.

I manage(d) to get up at 6am.

I promise(d) to buy a dog.

...etc...

The ambiguity, potentially, results in a significantly different message. However, all sentences can be made clear easily by articulating clearly (i.e. incorporating a clear break in sound before "...to...").

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Yes, I agree that d/t can be lost between consonants in casual speech. However, I think the loss proceeds by (1) complete assimilation of d/t to the preceding consonant, producing a long consonant, then at a more casual level, (2) shortening the long consonant. For your example "I managed to do it", I hear a lengthened affricate at the end of "manage", and then at a more casual level, that affricate can be shortened, in case the context makes clear that "manage" should be past tense.

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