Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Can you distinguish the sound when people say “laugh” versus “left” in English?

Today we’re going to start with a dialogue and pay attention to the ends of our words:

A: Michelle what time did you leave your apartment for you trip on wed?

B: Oh I left for the airport around 2:30am, crazy early.

A: Oh wow I have never left that early.

B: Me neither. The time before that I left after 6am at the earliest.

Let’s get into today’s question.

Hi there, I have a question for you…

When native speakers say the word “left” they often drop the t sound and say “lef”, and it sounds exactly like “laugh” so I’ve been asking myself, can I say left without the t sound anytime? cos most of the times I can guess which word they’re using but I’m not quite sure if I’m deducing right (I mean, about the way I should pronounce) so could you clear this up for me? I’d be very grateful.

Thanks in advance. Btw I am from Brazil. I love your podcast.

-Lucas santana



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Great question Lucas! Thank you for asking this question.

First of all, yes. Natives drop the ends of words all of the time. That’s why at your level you shouldn’t be stuyding from a grammar book.

Instead you should be listening to natural English so that you notice this.

Every sound in English is a little bit different.

We don’t have time to go into every consonant sound today.


Examples of T being dropped:

Next year- nexjeer- are you coming next year?

Don’t ask me- we drop the “k” in “ask”


Your action steps as a learner:

1- Start by learning it the way it’s written.

2- Listen to native pronunciation and native podcasts.

3- Worry about understanding first.  Look at the context. Does it make sense to say “left” or “laugh” in that situation?

4- Once you know the way to spell and pronounce the words in isolation (step 1) then you have listened to natives slur words together (step 2) and you can understand what they’re saying using context (step 3) then it’s time to start mimicking native speeech.


Don’t try to do this all at once.

It’s all about a step by step approach.

We often hear “I want to speak like a native” but it’s a process.

You can speed up the process by getting into our step-by-step course.


What questions do you have today?

Let us know in the comments below.

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