How to Make the TS Sound

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American English Pronunciation :: The TS Sound

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Today I’m going to talk about the TS sound.  I’ve noticed, working with my students, that many people have problems putting the T into the TS sound.  So, it ends up sounding like "less".  So what is the difference between the S and the TS?  A stop, the T stop.  So, to make the S, the tip of the tongue is forward, here, ss, lightly touching behind the bottom front teeth.  Corners of the lips will be pulled a little wide, teeth are closed, and the lips are parted, letting out the sound.  To make the T, one would ordinarily lift the tongue to the roof of the mouth, tt, and release. 

However, in the TS sound, there’s actually a short cut that the tongue does.  Rather than lifting the tip for the T, the tip stays down here, ss, ss.  And it’s further back, the front part of the tongue, but not the tip, that will raise and touch the roof of the mouth, to cut off the air flow.  Sst, sst.  So rather than the tip coming up, it’s simply the front part raising.  And still, that contact with the roof of the mouth makes the stop because it cuts off the airflow.  So to work on this sound, we’re actually going to begin by practicing an S sound with a stop T at the end rather than a TS sound.  So the first sound, the S.  Ss, ss, tip of the tongue down low. Sst, and the stop.  Bringing the front of the tongue to the roof of the mouth while leaving the tip in its place.  Sst, sst, sst, sst.  Practice that along with me.  Sst, sst, sst.

So as the tongue moves up, it cuts off the airflow.  Now let’s practice alternating the S with the stop T a little quicker this time.  Sst, etc.  So to make the TS sound, it’s simply starting with the stop T, and moving into the S:  ts, ts, ts, ts.  So you want to start with the front part of the tongue raised, the tip down, and air in a cut-off manner. Ts. You the pull the tongue back down with the tip still forward, releasing the air out for the S.  So let’s take a look at the two words from before.  Let’s, and less.  Let’s, the tongue is raising in the front part, cutting off the airflow.  Let’s, and, less, less, less.  No stop in the sound.  Let’s, less.  So as you’re practicing this, make sure you hear that pause.  Let’s.  You might even want to exaggerate it like that to make sure you’re getting it in. 

The TS sound is very common in English.  It’s, what’s, let’s.  Also, any noun in plural form that ends in a T, for example, cats.  And the conjugation of some verbs that end in a T, like sits.  So let’s look at some more examples.  It’s raining, it’s, ts, ts, it’s raining.  That’s what I said.  Tha-ts-, that’s what I said.  He fights with his boss a lot.  He fights, ts, fights, he fights with his boss a lot.  That takes some guts, guts, that takes some guts.  Let’s go.  Let’s, let’s go.  That’s ts, ts, that’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.

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