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There are mixed answers online. Some say 't' is silent. Others say 'e' is silent.

Dictionaries don't seem to give a consistent pronunciation for this word, so it's hard know what is correct.

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    Hi Des, welcome to EL&U! It's a good idea to mention. what research you've done when you post your question, and perhaps why that info didn't work for you. The normal place to look up a pronunciation would be a dictionary, but in this particular case, that may not solve the problem. Users sometimes close questions here if the asker doesn't explain what research they've done. This is to encourage them to improve the question so it can be reopened. Sep 2, 2023 at 7:24
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    Please tell us which is the most common pronunciation listed by dictionaries and which dictionary (ies) has/have more than one pronunciation. Thanks. P.S I am happy to reverse my downvote and retract my close vote when the OP edits their post.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 2, 2023 at 9:40
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    @Mari-LouA Downvoting a brand new user doesn't work well in terms of encouraging them to edit their post. It normally just ensures they don't come back. Sep 2, 2023 at 10:17
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    @Araucaria The user is unregistered, I doubt they will come back. But if they do, I'm happy to reverse the downvote and award an upvote for their effort.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 2, 2023 at 11:12

1 Answer 1

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The < t > is always silent. Whether the < e > is silent or not depends on whether the speaker uses a syllabic /n/ at the end of the word or, alternatively, uses the schwa vowel plus an /n/. The two choices are : /fɑ:sn̩/ and /fɑ:sən/.

You may see either pronunciation in a given dictionary. For example, if you stick fasten definition into a Google search, you will get a definition from Oxford Dictionaries alongside the transcription "/fɑ:sn/" with no mention of a possible schwa before the /n/.

However, a good dictionary will show that both pronunciations are possible. This is usually shown by putting a small, superscript schwa symbol < ə > before the /n/:

  • /fɑ:sən/

Note that this does not mean that there is a small schwa sound before the /n/! It means that the schwa is optional. Sometimes it will be there and other times it won't.

It's probably worth mentioning that the version with the schwa may be thought of as a slightly child-like pronunciation.

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    The schwa can come in for emphasis too. "Fasn your seat belt." 'I don't want to, mum.' "I said fassen it, now!"
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 2, 2023 at 13:15

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