When /t/ becomes /ʧ/


t becomes ch logo

Welcome back teachers! In this article we focus on how /t/ can sometimes sound more like /ʧ/.

In English, /t/ is usually represented by the letter ‘t’ such as in ‘ten’, ‘turtle’, ‘cat’ and ‘tent’. As for /ʧ/ this is usually represented by the letters ‘ch’ such as in ‘chips’ and ‘touch’. Sometimes /ʧ/  can be represented by the letters ‘tch’ such as in ‘match’ and ‘ratchet’.

/t/ Becomes /ʧ/ In One Word

The /t/ sound can change to a /ʧ/ sound in two ways. Let’s look at the first way by listening to the words below:

  1. train – /ʧreɪn/ (usually transcribed as /treɪn/)
  2. tram – /ʧræm/ (usually transcribed as /træm/)
  3. trip – /ʧrɪp/ (usually transcribed as /trɪp/)
  4. attribute – /æʧrəbju:t/ (usually transcribed as /ætrəbju:t/)


  1. tune – /ʧu:n/ (usually transcribed as /tju:n/)
  2. tuna – /ʧu:nə/ (usually transcribed as /tju:nə/)
  3. tube – /ʧu:b/ (usually transcribed as /tju:b/)
  4. fortune /fɔ:ʧu:n/ (usually transcribed as /fɔ:tju:n/)

From the above examples, we can see that when /t/ is together with /r/ it sounds more like a /ʧ/ sound.

With examples 5-6 you can see that the letter ‘t’ is with the letter ‘u’. However, there is a sound you cannot see between ‘t’ and ‘u’. This is the /j/ sound (usually represented by the letter ‘y’). When /t/ is with /j/ it sounds more like a  /ʧ/ sound (especially in British English). Try listening to examples 5-6 again.

Why does this happen?

In the case of /tr/ it can be very difficult to combine /t/ and /r/ whilst still keeping the /t/ sound. You can try to do this yourself and see how it sounds. You may find it very difficult to do and easier to use the /ʧ/ sound instead (you can also listen to this below with examples 1 – 4). It is also easier to move from /ʧ/ to /r/ than from /t/ to /r/. You can also listen to the examples below where the speaker attempts to say words with /tr/ whilst keeping the /t/ sound (quite difficult to do!).

/t/ Becomes /ʧ/ With Two Words

In this part, we see how /t/ changes to /ʧ/ between two words. You can see this in the examples below:

  1. “Nice to meet you.” – /naɪs tə mi:ʧju:/
  2. “I’ll greet you now.” – /aɪl gri:ʧju: naʊ/
  3. “Can I meet your parents?” – /kæn aɪ mi:ʧjɔ: peərənts/
  4. “I’ll greet your friends tomorrow.” – /aɪl gri:ʧjɔ: frendz təmɒrəʊ/
  5. “Careful! He’ll beat you up!” – /keəfəl! hi:l bi:ʧju: ʌp!/
  6. “You should heat your hands up.” – /ju: ʃʊd hi:ʧjɔ: hændz ʌp/
  7. “Careful they don’t boot you out of the shop!” – /keəfəl ðeɪ dəʊnt bu:ʧju: aʊt əv ðə ʃɒp/
  8. “Where might you go?” – /weə maɪʧju: gəʊ/
  9. “I thought you knew!” – /aɪ ðɔ:ʧju: nju:/

Why does this happen?

In the examples above, the sound affecting the /t/ sound at the end of a word (making it sound more like a /ʧ/ sound) is the /j/ sound at the beginning of the next word (represented by ‘y’ in ‘you’ and ‘your’ in the examples above etc.). This is a common feature of connected speech in English where the speaker will change the sound so that it will be easier to move to the next word.

In the case above it is easier for the speaker to move from a /ʧ/ sound to a /j/ sound than to move from a /t/ sound to a /j/ sound. You can test this out by moving from /ʧ/  to /j/ and moving from /t/ to /j/. You might find that  /ʧ/  and /j/ are produced in the same part of your mouth, whereas /t/ and /j/ are made in different parts of your mouth.

As a result, when you hear native English speakers utter the phrases in the examples above you may hear a /ʧ/ sound instead of a /t/ sound.

Why might this be important for teaching?

/ʧ/ can sound very different to /t/ so you can imagine how your students might get confused if they hear a phrase like ‘Nice to meet you!’ and they hear a /ʧ/ sound connecting ‘meet’ and ‘you’ instead of a /t/ sound based on the letters they see. If your students are aware of how /t/ can be affected it should help them understand the phrases above better as well as individual words like ‘train’ and ‘tuna’. It should also help your students produce the above phrases (and similar) much more smoothly when speaking.


The above describes a feature of connected speech in English. If your students use it great, If they don’t, it is NOT WRONG at all. Below are three ways ‘Nice to meet you’ can be said. All are correct! Can you hear which one has the /ʧ/ sound?

  1. “Nice to meet you.”
  2. “Nice to meet you.”
  3. “Nice to meet you.”

Don’t forget to download the poster for your classroom to help you and your students remember.

DOWNLOAD POSTER When /t/ becomes /ʧ/


18 thoughts on “When /t/ becomes /ʧ/

  1. The exchange from /t/ to /ch/ from Teacher Thanh is so great, so helpful, so clear, … For us to learn, to follow and to teach our children! Thanks so deep, teacher Thanh Cong Nguyen!


  2. It’s very nice teacher. I can learn from your lessons. It’s good for me to and very useful for students I can use for my students for pronouncing.
    Thank you very much teacher


  3. Thank you teacher. I have more understanding of pronunciation in English since I fallow your articles. This is great for the peoples who never heard it before..Me also!

    Your articles is up to date.
    Thank you
    Best Regards.


  4. Pingback: When /d/ becomes /ʤ/ – The English Language Education Classroom

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