Skip to main content
K12 LibreTexts

2.3: The Consonant Sound [t]

  • Page ID
    3560
  • Overview

    The two ways of spelling [t] are <t> and <tt>.

    Examples

    You can hear the sound [t] at the front and end of the word toot.

    Review

    1. Underline the letters that spell [t].
      \begin{align*}
          & \text{about} && \text{after} && \text{better} && \text{account}\\
          & \text{country} && \text{perfect} && \text{didn't} && \text{different}\\
          & \text{itself} && \text{great} && \text{kitten} && \text{bottle}\\
          & \text{starter} && \text{little} && \text{rabbit} && \text{sister}\\
          & \text{vote} && \text{today} && \text{fruit} && \text{setting}\\
          & \text{hotter} && \text{bottom} && \text{until} && \text{cannot}
      \end{align*}
    2. Now sort the words into these two groups
      Words with [t] spelled...
      <t> <tt>
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
    Show Answer
    1. Underline the letters that spell [t].
      \begin{align*}
          &  abou\underline{t}  &&  af\underline{t}er  &&  be\underline{tt}er  &&  accoun\underline{t} \\
          &  coun\underline{t}ry  &&  perfec\underline{t}  &&  didn'\underline{t}  &&  differen\underline{t} \\
          &  i\underline{t}self  &&  grea\underline{t}  &&  ki\underline{tt}en  &&  bo\underline{tt}le \\
          &  s\underline{t}ar\underline{t}er  &&  li\underline{tt}le  &&  rabbi\underline{t}  &&  sis\underline{t}er \\
          &  vo\underline{t}e  &&  \underline{t}oday  &&  frui\underline{t}  &&  se\underline{tt}ing \\
          &  ho\underline{tt}er  &&  bo\underline{tt}om  &&  un\underline{t}il  &&  canno\underline{t} 
      \end{align*}
    2. Now sort the words into these two groups
      Words with [t] spelled...
      <t> <tt>
      about didn't hotter
      country rabbit little
      itself fruit bottom
      starter until better
      vote account kitten
      after different bottle
      perfect sister setting
      great cannot  
      today    

    Explore More

    1. Underline the letters that spell [t], [p], and [b].
      \begin{align*}
          & \text{surprise} && \text{important} && \text{help} && \text{appear}\\
          & \text{about} && \text{hobby} && \text{because} && \text{bridge}\\
          & \text{prevent} && \text{between} && \text{bottle} && \text{ribbon}
      \end{align*}
    2. Sort the words into these three groups and the boxes that follow.
      [p] spelled [b] spelled <b> [t] spelled <t>
           
           
           
           
           
    3. The word with [p] spelled <pp>...
    4. The word with [t] spelled <tt>...
    5. The two words with [b] spelled <bb>
    6. Two ways of spelling [p] are _______ and _______.
    7. Two ways of spelling [b] are _______ and _______.
    8. Two ways of spelling [t] are _______ and _______.
    Show Answer
    1. Underline the letters that spell [t], [p], and [b].
      \begin{align*}
          &  sur\underline{p}rise  &&  im\underline{p}or\underline{t}an\underline{t}  &&  hel\underline{p}  &&  a\underline{pp}ear \\
          &  a\underline{b}out  &&  ho\underline{bb}y  &&  \underline{b}ecause  &&  \underline{b}ridge \\
          &  \underline{p}reven\underline{t}  &&  \underline{b}e\underline{t}ween  &&  \underline{b}o\underline{tt}le &&  ri\underline{bb}on 
      \end{align*}
    2. Sort the words into these three groups and the boxes that follow.
      [p] spelled

       

      [b] spelled <b> [t] spelled <t>
      ">surprise about important
      ">important because about
      ">help bridge prevent
      ">prevent between between
      "> bottle  
    3. The word with [p] spelled <pp>...
      appear
    4. The word with [t] spelled <tt>...
      bottle
    5. The two words with [b] spelled <bb>...
      hobby and ribbon
    6. Two ways of spelling [p] are <p> and <pp>.
    7. Two ways of spelling [b] are <b> and <bb>.
    8. Two ways of spelling [t] are <t> and <tt>.

    Spelling [t]

    About ninety-nine times out of a hundred the sound [t] is spelled either <tt> or <t>.

    Examples

    Words that have the sound [t] spelled <t>:

    \begin{align*}
        & tree && painter && craft && container && taxi\\
    \end{align*}

    Words that have the sound [t] spelled <tt>:

    \begin{align*}
        & tattle && brunette && flattest && cottage && unbutton\\
    \end{align*}

    Review

    1. Underline the letters that spell the [t] sounds in the following words:
      \begin{align*}
          & \text{telephone} && \text{benefit} && \text{candidate} && \text{tourist}\\
          & \text{writer} && \text{artist} && \text{hospital} && \text{tongue}\\
          & \text{collect} && \text{vegetable} && \text{electric} && \text{struggle}\\
          & \text{technique} && \text{taught} && \text{symptom} && \text{motors}
      \end{align*}
    2. Now sort the words into these three groups:
      the first sound: the last sound: in the middle:
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
    3. How is [t] spelled in all of these words? ____.
    4. Fill in the blank: Usually the sound [t] is spelled _____.
    5. Underline the letters that spell [t] in the following words:
      \begin{align*}
          & \text{cattail} && \text{regretting} && \text{bottom}\\
          & \text{committed} && \text{outtalk} && \text{attention}\\
          & \text{attention} && \text{upsetting} && \text{attend}
      \end{align*}
    6. How is [t] spelled in all of these words? _____.
    Show Answer
    1. Underline the letters that spell the [t] sounds in the following words:
      \begin{align*}
          &   \underline{t}elephone  &&  benefi \underline{t}  &&  candida \underline{t}e  &&   \underline{t}ouris \underline{t} \\
          &  wri \underline{t}er  &&  ar \underline{t}is \underline{t}  &&  hospi \underline{t}al  &&   \underline{t}ongue \\
          &  collec \underline{t}  &&  vege \underline{t}able  &&  elec \underline{t}ric  &&  s \underline{t}ruggle \\
          &   \underline{t}echnique  &&   \underline{t}augh \underline{t}  &&  symp \underline{t}om  &&  mo \underline{t}ors 
      \end{align*}
    2. Now sort the words into these three groups:
      the first sound: the last sound: in the middle:
      telephone collect writer
      technique benefit artist
      taught artist vegetable
      tourist taught hospital
      tongue candidate electric
        symptom tourist
          motors
    3. How is [t] spelled in all of these words? <t>.
    4. Usually the sound [t] is spelled <t>.
    5. Underline the letters that spell [t] in the following words:
      \begin{align*}
          &  ca \underline{tt}ail  &&  regre \underline{tt}ing  &&  bo \underline{tt}om \\
          &  commi \underline{tt}ed  &&  ou \underline{tt}alk  &&  a \underline{tt}ention \\
          &  a \underline{tt}ention  &&  upse \underline{tt}ing  &&  a \underline{tt}end 
      \end{align*}
    6. How is [t] spelled in all of these words? <tt>.

    When [t] is Spelled <tt>

    Often the sound [t] is spelled <tt> because of simple addition, twinning, or assimilation.

    Examples

    The following words have been analyzed to show where the two <t>s come from.

    Word = Analysis Reason
    regretting = re + gret + t + ing Twinning
    attractive = ad + t + tract + ive Assimilation
    outtake = out + take Simple Addition

    Review

    The following words all contain the sound [t] spelled <tt> because of either simple addition, twinning, or assimilation. Analyze each word to show where the two <t>s come from.

    Word = Analysis Reason
    1. quitter =  
    2. attendance =  
    3. attempted =  
    4. committee =  
    5. attends =  
    6. cattails =  
    7. submitting =  
    8. regretted =  
    9. fatter =  
    10. attention =  
    11. rattrap =  
    12. fattiest =  

    Mark the VCV or VCC patterns for the first vowel in each of the following words and fill in the blanks, as we have done for later and latter.

    Word #1 Is the vowel in front of the <t> long or short? Word #2 Is the vowel in front of the <tt> long or short?

    13. later
    vcv

    Long

    latter
    vcc

    Short
    14. writer   written  

    15. cuter

      cutter  
    16. biter   bitter  
    17. fated   fattest  
    18. hating   hatter  
    19. Peter   petting  
    20. motor   otter  
    Show Answer

    The following words all contain the sound [t] spelled <tt> because of either simple addition, twinning, or assimilation. Analyze each word to show where the two <t>'s come from:

    Word = Analysis Reason
    1. quitter = quit + t + er Twinning
    2. attendance = ad + t + tend + ance Assimilation
    3. attempted = ad + t + tempt + ed Assimilation
    4. committee = com + mit + t + ee Twinning
    5. attends = ad + t + tend + s Assimilation
    6. cattails = cat + tail + s Simple Addition
    7. submitting = sub + mit + t + ing Twinning
    8. regretted = re + gret + t + ed Twinning
    9. fatter = fat + t + er Twinning
    10. attention = ad + t + tent + ion Assimilation
    11. rattrap = rat + trap Simple Addition
    12. fattiest = fat + t + y + i + est Twinning

    Mark the VCV or VCC patterns for the first vowel in each of the following words and fill in the blanks, as we have done for later and latter:

    Word #1

    Is the vowel in

    front of the <t>

    long or short?

    Word #2

    Is the vowel in

    front of the <tt>

    long or short?

    13. later
    vcv

    Long

    latter
    vcc

    Short

    14. writer
    vcv

    Long

    written
    vcc

    Short

    15. cuter
    vcv

    Long

    cutter

    vcc

    Short

    16. biter

    vcv

    Long

    bitter

    vcc

    Short

    17. fated
    vcv

    Long

    fattest
    vcc

    Short

    18. hating
    vcv

    Long

    hatter
    vcc

    Short

    19. Peter
    vcv

    Long

    petting
    vcc

    Short

    20. motor
    vcv

    Long

    otter
    vcc

    Short

    Explore More

    Word Find. This find contains the following twenty words that all have [t] spelled <tt>. Find each in the boxes below.

    \begin{align*}&\text{attack} && \text{critter} && \text{flutter} && \text{motto} && \text{putty}\\ &\text{attic} && \text{ditto} && \text{ghetto} && \text{otter} && \text{regatta}\\ &\text{bottom} && \text{ditty} && \text{lettuce} && \text{pattern} && \text{tattoo}\\ &\text{cotton} && \text{flattery} && \text{matter} && \text{petty} && \text{utter}\end{align*}

    In nineteen of the words the <tt> is due to the VCC pattern. In one word it is due to assimilation. Which word is that? ________________________

    Show Answer

    In nineteen of the words the <tt> is due to the VCC pattern. In one word it is due to assimilation. Which word is that? attack

    The Sound [t] and Twinning

    You twin or double the final consonant of a word that has one vowel sound, or where the last vowel has a strong stress, and ends CVC when you add a suffix that starts with a vowel.

    A compound word is a word that contains at least two free stems, or shorter words - for example, blackbird (black + bird) and dogcatcher (dog + catcher). Sometimes the first stem in a compound word ends with a <t> and the second starts starts with a <t>. Where the two parts come together through simple addition, you get <tt>: cat + tail = cattail.

    Examples

    In those words in which [t] is spelled <tt>, it is usually easy to see why there are two <t>s.

    \begin{align*}
        & \text{cattail} && \text{regretting} && \text{bottom}\\
        & \text{committed} && \text{outtalk} && \text{attention}\\
        & \text{attention} && \text{upsetting} && \text{attend}
    \end{align*}

    In addition to cattail, there is one other compound word in the nine words above that has [t] spelled <tt> because the first stem ends with <t> and the second stem starts with <t>. It has been analyzed below into two free stems.

    Compound = Free Stem #1 + Free Stem #2
    outtalk = out + talk

    Review

    Sometimes [t] is spelled <tt> because of twinning: upsetting = upset + t + ing.

    1. What is the suffix in the word upsetting?
    2. Does this suffix start with a vowel?
    3. What is the stem to which the -ing in upsetting was added?
    4. How many vowel sounds are there is in this stem?
    5. Does the stem end CVC?
    6. Is there strong stress on the <e> in upset before and after you add the suffix?
    7. Do you twin the final consonant of upset when you add a suffix like -ing?
    8. Other than upsetting there are three more words among the nine below in which the <tt> spelling is due to twinning. Find the three words and analyze them to show where the <tt> comes from, as we did with upsetting.
      \begin{align*}
          & \text{cattail} && \text{regretting} && \text{bottom}\\
          & \text{committed} && \text{outtalk} && \text{attention}\\
          & \text{attention} && \text{upsetting} && \text{attend}
      \end{align*}
    Compound = Free Stem #1 + Free Stem #2
    upsetting = upset + t + ing
         
         
         
    Show Answer
    1. What is the suffix in the word upsetting? -ing
    2. Does this suffix start with a vowel? yes
    3. What is the stem to which the -ing in upsetting was added? upset
    4. How many vowel sounds are there is in this stem? two
    5. Does the stem end CVC? yes
    6. Is there strong stress on the <e> in upset before and after you add the suffix? yes
    7. Do you twin the final consonant of upset when you add a suffix like -ing? yes
    8. Word = Free Stem + Suffix
      upsetting = upset + t + ing
      committed = commit + t + ed
      submitted = submit + t + ed
      regretting = regret + t + ing

    The Sound [t] and Assimilation

    Three reasons for [t] being spelled <tt> are twinning, simple addition, and assimilation.

    When the prefix ad- is added to a stem that starts with a <t>, the <d> assimilates. It changes to a <t>, making two <t>s: ad + t + tain = attain.

    Examples

    The following words have been analyzed to show where the <tt> spelling comes from.

    Word = Analysis
    outtrick = out + trick
    attracts = ad + t + tract + s
    fattiest = fat + t + y + i + est

    Review

    Here are nine words in which [t] is spelled <tt>.

    1. There are two words in the nine that contain the prefix ad- and a stem that starts with a <t>. Find them and analyze them to show the assimilation that gives us the <tt> spelling, as we have done with attain.
      Word = Assimilated Prefix ad- + Stem
      attain = ad + t + tain
        = +
        = +
    2. Now sort the nine words into the following three groups.
      simple addition assimilation twinning
           
           
           
           
    3. Among the nine words in Item 2, the word in which the <tt> is not due to simple addition, assimilation, or twinning is _____________.
      Analyze each of the following words to show where the <tt> spelling comes from.

      Word = Analysis
      4. knotty =
      5. quitter =
      6. attempt =
      7. outtake =
      8. rattrap =
      9. regretted =
      10. permitting =
      11. attendance =
      12. fattest =
    Show Answer
    1. Word = Assimilated Prefix ad- + Stem
      attain = ad + t + tain
      attention = ad + t + tention
      attend = ad + t + tend
    2. simple addition assimilation twinning
      cattail attention committed
      outtalk attend submitted
          regretting
          upsetting
    3. Among the nine words in Item 2, the word in which the <tt> is not due to either simple addition, assimilation, or twinning is bottom.

      Word = Analysis
      4. knotty = knot + t + y
      5. quitter = quit + t + er
      6. attempt = ad + t + temp
      7. outtake = out + take
      8. rattrap = rat + trap
      9. regretted = regret + t + ed
      10. permitting = permit + t + ing
      11. attendance = ad t + tend + ance
      12. fattest = fat + t + est

    The Sound [t] and the VCC Pattern

    In the VCC pattern, the vowel will usually be short. In the VCV pattern, the first vowel will usually be long.

    These are the short and long vowel sounds:

    Short Vowel Sounds Long Vowel Sounds
    [a] as in mat [ā] as in mate
    [e] as in met [ē] as in meet
    [i] as in mitt [ī] as in might
    [o] as in cot [ō] as in coat
    [u] as in cut [ū] as in coot
    [u˙] as in cook [yū] as in cute

    Many words that are not compounds and do not contain twinning or assimilation still spell [t] <tt> because of the VCC pattern, just like latter and bottom.

    Examples

    The word latter has a short first vowel and the VCC pattern.

    The word later has a long first vowel and the VCV pattern.

    Review

    Mark the VCC pattern and identify the vowel sound you hear in front of the <tt> in each of the following words, as we have with bottom:

    Word Vowel sound in front of the <tt>:

    1. bottom
    vcc

    [o]

    2. scatter

     

    3. ghetto

     

    4. lettuce

     

    5. chatter

     

    6. kitten

     

    7. button

     

    8. cotton

     

    9. letter

     

    10. pattern

     

    11. butter

     

    12. matter

     

    13. bitter

     

    14. motto

     

    15. tattoo

     

    16. symptom

     

    17. Are the vowel sounds in front of the <tt> long or are they short? ____________

    Show Answer
    Word Vowel sound in front of the <tt>:

    1. bottom
    vcc

    [o]

    2. scatter
    vcc

    [a]

    3. ghetto
    vcc

    [e]

    4. lettuce
    vcc

    [e]

    5. chatter
    vcc

    [a]

    6. kitten
    vcc

    [i]

    7. button
    vcc

    [u]

    8. cotton
    vcc

    [o]

    9. letter
    vcc

    [e]

    10. pattern
    vcc

    [a]

    11. butter
    vcc

    [u]

    12. matter
    vcc

    [a]

    13. bitter
    vcc

    [i]

    14. motto
    vcc

    [o]

    15. tattoo
    vcc

    [a]

    16. symptom
    vcc

    [i]

    17. Are the vowel sounds in front of the <tt> long or are they short? short

    Words with <ttle> and <tle>

    Words like battle that end with the letters <le> right after a [t] sound are a special group.

    In words that end with a [t] sound with <le> right after it, the [t] is spelled <t> if it comes right after a consonant or long vowel. However, if the [t] comes right after a short vowel sound, it is spelled <tt>.

    Let's look at this in the context of vowel patterns.

    The long vowels in words like title may seem to be exceptions to the VCC pattern. But the pattern for words that end <tle> is true for words that end with any consonant followed by <le>. Since there is always a long vowel in every word that ends with a single consonant followed by <le>, we can treat these long vowels not as exceptions, but rather as the result of a smaller pattern within a bigger pattern. We can call it the VCle# pattern. VCle# is another pattern that marks long vowels, like VCV and Ve#.

    If there is a short vowel sound right in front of the [t], we use a double <tt> to spell [t] in front of the <le>. We can think of this as another smaller pattern within the bigger VCC pattern. We can call it the VCCle# pattern, which is another pattern that marks short vowels, like VCC and VC#.

    In the VCCle pattern the vowel is short, but in the VCle pattern the vowel is long.

    Examples

    If there is a consonant between the short vowel and the [t], we only need a single <t> because the other consonant will fill out the VCCle pattern, as in words like gentle and mantle.

    If there is no other consonant, we need both <t>s, as in words like bottle and little.

    Review

    1. In the words below, underline the letters that spell [t].
      \begin{align*}
          & \text{battle} && \text{kettle} && \text{bottle} && \text{shuttle}\\
          & \text{beetle} && \text{gentle} && \text{startle} && \text{turtle}\\
          & \text{mantle} && \text{rattle} && \text{settle} && \text{title}\\
          & \text{little} && \text{brittle} && \text{cattle} && \text{tootle}
      \end{align*}
    2. Now sort the words into this matrix.
      Words in which the [t] comes right after...
        a consonant: a long vowel: a short vowel:
      Words with [t] spelled <t>      
      Words with [t] spelled <tt>      
    3. Sort the words with short vowels into these two groups:
      Words with short vowels in which [t] is spelled...
      <t> <tt>
           
           
           
           
           
    Show Answer
    1. \begin{align*}
          &  ba\underline{tt}le  &&  ke\underline{tt}le  &&  bo\underline{tt}le  &&  shu\underline{tt}le \\
          &  bee\underline{t}le  &&  gent\underline{t}e  &&  star\underline{t}le  &&  tur\underline{t}le \\
          &  man\underline{t}le  &&  ra\underline{tt}le  &&  se\underline{tt}le  &&  \underline{t}i\underline{t}le \\
          &  li\underline{tt}le  &&  bri\underline{tt}le  &&  ca\underline{tt}le  &&  \underline{t}oo\underline{t}le 
      \end{align*}
    2. Words in which the [t] comes right after...
        a consonant: a long vowel: a short vowel:
      Words with [t] spelled <t>

      mantle

      gentle

      startle

      turtle

      beetle

      title

      tootle

       
      Words with [t] spelled <tt>    

      battle

      little

      kettle

      rattle

      brittle

      bottle

      settle

      cattle

      shuttle

    3. Words with short vowels in which [t] is spelled...
      <t> <tt>
      mantle battle bottle
      gentle little settle
      startle kettle cattle
      turtle rattle shuttle
        brittle  

    Explore More

    Word Changes. Remember to follow the directions carefully and write the words you make in the column on the right. The shaded boxes will contain words with which you worked in Item 1 of this lesson. All of the words will end in either <tle> or <ttle>. As you form each word, decide whether it should be spelled with a single or a double <t>.

    1. Write the word battle  
    2. Change the first consonant in the word to the twentieth letter in the alphabet  
    3. Change the first consonant back to <b> and change the <a> to <ee>  
    4. Change the first consonant in the word to the fifth consonant in the alphabet and change the second <e> to the fourteenth letter in the alphabet  
    5. Change the first letter in the word to <m> and change the first vowel in the word to the first vowel in the alphabet  
    6. Move the second consonant in the word to the front, delete the <m>, and change the <a> to an <e>  
    7. Change the first consonant in the word to the fourteenth consonant in the alphabet, and change the <e> back to an <a>  
    8. Change the first letter in the word to the letter that comes right after it in the alphabet, make the second letter in the word a <c>, and change the <a> to the twenty-first letter of the alphabet  
    9. Change the first two letters of the word to <br> and change the <u> to <i>  
    Show Answer

    Word Changes. Remember to follow the directions carefully and write the words you make in the column on the right. The shaded boxes will contain words with which you worked in Item 1 of this lesson. All of the words will end in either <tle> or <ttle>. As you form each word, decide whether it should be spelled with a single or a double <t>.

    1. Write the word battle battle
    2. Change the first consonant in the word to the twentieth letter in the alphabet tattle
    3. Change the first consonant back to <b> and change the <a> to <ee> beetle
    4. Change the first consonant in the word to the fifth consonant in the alphabet and change the second <e> to the fourteenth letter in the alphabet gentle
    5. Change the first letter in the word to <m> and change the first vowel in the word to the first vowel in the alphabet mantle
    6. Move the second consonant in the word to the front, delete the <m>, and change the <a> to an <e> nettle
    7. Change the first consonant in the word to the fourteenth consonant in the alphabet, and change the <e> back to an <a> rattle
    8. Change the first letter in the word to the letter that comes right after it in the alphabet, make the second letter in the word a <c>, and change the <a> to the twenty-first letter of the alphabet scuttle
    9. Change the first two letters of the word to <br> and change the <u> to <i> brittle

    [t] Spelled <ed>

    The suffix -ed sometimes sounds like [d], sometimes like [id], and sometimes like [t].

    Examples

    Look at these sentences below.

    He coughs a lot.

    Last night he coughed all night long.

    When you want to add the meaning “in the past” to a verb, usually you add the suffix -ed.

    Review

    1. Say each of the following words carefully and sort them into the three groups below.
      \begin{align*}
          & \text{addressed} && \text{approached} && \text{struggled} && \text{shoveled}\\
          & \text{adopted} && \text{collected} && \text{enjoyed} && \text{attached}\\
          & \text{accomplished} && \text{allowed} && \text{taxed} && \text{announced}\\
          & \text{murmured} && \text{assigned} && \text{attended} && \text{avoided}\\
          & \text{attacked} && \text{approved} && \text{coughed} && \text{telephoned}
      \end{align*}
      Words in which -ed sounds like ...
      [id] [d] [t]
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
    2. Sometimes the [t] at the end of a verb that has the meaning “in the past” is the suffix ______.
    Show Answer
    1. Words in which -ed sounds like...
      [id] [d] [t]
      adopted murmured addressed
      collected allowed accomplished
      attended assigned attacked
      avoided approved approached
        struggled taxed
        enjoyed coughed
        shoveled attached
        telephoned announced
    2. Sometimes the [t] at the end of a verb that has the meaning “in the past” is the suffix -ed.

    Explore More

    Word Scrambles. This Scrambles contains words that all contain the sound [t]. We have given you a start by filling in the three spellings of [t].

    Show Answer
    No. Scrambled Word                    
    1 neebtif b e n e f i t      
    2 xedat t a x e d          
    3 sledgimp g l i m p s e d    
    4 tricecel e l e c t r i c    
    5 tedtan a t t e n d        
    6 totoat t a t t o o        
    7 toekaut o u t t a k e      
    8 slattaic c a t a i l s      
    9 stingbumit s u b m i t t i n g
    10 wetrir w r i t e r        
    11 mobtot b o t t o m        
    12 truelt t u r t l e        
    13 cattrat a t t r a c t      
    14 tolthret t h r o t t l e    
    15 greettred r e g r e t t e d  
    16 rotte o t t e r          
    17 tleeng g e n t l e        
    18 hugelad l a u g h e d      
    19 beltee b e e t l e        
    20 cutetle l e t t u c e      
    21 latett t a t t l e        

     Some Verbs Ending with <t>

    Sometimes the suffix -ed sounds like [t].

    Nowadays when we want to add the meaning “in the past” to a verb, we nearly always just add the suffix -ed. But long ago with some verbs the suffix that meant “in the past” not only sounded like [t], it was sometimes spelled <t>. A few of those old verbs are still with us. For example: feel and felt, as in “I feel good now, but yesterday I felt pretty bad.”

    Examples

    In feel the vowel sound is long.

    In felt the vowel is short.

    In feel the vowel is spelled <ee>.

    In felt the vowel is spelled <e>.

    In felt the [t] is spelled <t>.

    Review 

    1. In the left column below there are more old past tense verbs with -t. Write out the present tense form for each one and fill in the two columns on the right, as we have done for felt.
          How is the vowel pronounced and spelled in...
      Past Tense Verb Present Tense Verb the present tense verb? the past tense verb?
      felt feel [e¯] = <ee> [e] = <e>
      kept      
      slept      
      crept      
    2. Here are more verbs that have old past tense forms that end with <t>. This time we've given you the present tense form, and you are to fill in the past tense form:
          How is the vowel pronounced and spelled in...
      Present Tense Verb Past Tense Verb the present tense verb? the past tense verb?
      deal dealt [e¯] = <ea> [e] = <ea>
      sweep      
      send      
      mean      
      weep      
      spend      
      build      
      bend      
      lend      
             
      leave      
    3. Here are some more that have more elaborate changes:
          How is the vowel pronounced and spelled in...
      Present Tense Verb Past Tense Verb the present tense verb? the past tense verb?
      buy bought [i] = <uy> [o] = <ou>
      catch      
      bring      
      seek      
      teach      
      think      
    Show Answer
    1.     How is the vowel pronounced and spelled in...
      Past Tense Verb Present Tense Verb the present tense verb? the past tense verb?
      felt feel [e¯] = <ee> [e] = <e>
      kept keep [e¯] = <ee> [e] = <e>
      slept sleep [e¯] = <ee> [e] = <e>
      crept creep [e¯] = <ee> [e] = <e>
    2.     How is the vowel pronounced and spelled in...
      Present Tense Verb Past Tense Verb the present tense verb? the past tense verb?
      deal dealt [e¯] = <ea> [e] = <ea>
      sweep swept [e¯] = <e> [e] = <e>
      send sent [e¯] = <e> [e] = <e>
      mean meant [e¯] = <ea> [e] = <ea>
      weep wept [e¯] = <ee> [e] = <e>
      spend spent [e] = <e> [e] = <e>
      build built [i] = <ui> [i] = <ui>
      bend bent [e] = <e> [e] = <e>
      lend lent [e] = <e> [e] = <e>
        lose [u¯] = <o> [o] = <o>
      leave left [e¯] = <ea> [e] = <e>
    3.     How is the vowel pronounced and spelled in...
      Present Tense Verb Past Tense Verb the present tense verb? the past tense verb?
      buy bought [i] = <uy> [o] = <ou>
      catch caught [a] = <a> [o] = <au>
      bring brought [i] = <i> [o] = <ou>
      seek sought [e¯] = <ee> [o] = <ou>
      teach taught [e¯] = <ea> [o] = <au>
      think thought [i] = <i> [o] = <ou>

    Explore More

    Word Flow. In this flow you can trace out fourteen words: seven present tense verbs and their past tense forms that end in -t.

    Show Answer

    Present Tense Past Tense
    bend bent
    lend lent
    mean meant
    send sent
    spend spent
    sweep swept
    weep wept

    Reasons for Some Unusual Spellings of [t]

    The sound [t] is spelled one of these three ways more than ninety-nine times out of a hundred: <t>, <tt>, and <ed>. 

    If you remember the places where <tt> occurs and remember that -ed is always a verb suffix, you should have little trouble knowing which spelling to use. There are some other spellings of [t], though, that are very rare but still worth looking at. 

    For instance, The sound [t] is spelled <ght> only after [ī] spelled <i> or <ei>, after [ā] spelled <ai> or <ei>, or after [o] spelled <au> or <ou>. The sound [t] can also be spelled <tw>, <bt>, and <cht>.

    [t] = <tw>. The sound [t] is spelled <tw> in only one word: two. Long ago two was pronounced [twō].

    [t] = <bt>. The sound [t] is spelled <bt> in only three common words: debt, doubt, and subtle. All three were Latin words, used a long time ago by the Romans. Our word debt comes from the Latin word debitum. Our word doubt comes from the Latin word dubitare. Our word subtle comes from the Latin word subtilis.

    [t] = <cht>. Long ago the Dutch called a fast sailing ship a jaghte. The English borrowed the word and spelled it several different ways, including <yaught>. Back then the <gh> was pronounced with a sound a little like our [ch], so in time the <gh> spelling changed to <ch>. But then over the centuries people stopped pronouncing the <ch>, so we now have a word pronounced [yot] and spelled yacht. This is the only word we have in which [t] is spelled <cht>.

    Examples

    A word in which [t] is spelled <tw> is two.

    Three words in which [t] is spelled <bt> are debt, doubt, and subtle.

    One word in which [t] is spelled <cht> is yacht.

    Review

    1. Underline the letters that spell [t] in the following words.
      \begin{align*}
          & \text{alight} && \text{fight} && \text{lightning} && \text{sight}\\
          & \text{aught} && \text{flight} && \text{midnight} && \text{sleight}\\
          & \text{bought} && \text{fought} && \text{might} && \text{slight}\\
          & \text{bright} && \text{freight} && \text{naught} && \text{slaughter}\\
          & \text{brought} && \text{fright} && \text{naughty} && \text{sought}\\
          & \text{caught} && \text{haughty} && \text{night} && \text{straight}\\
          & \text{daughter} && \text{height} && \text{ought} && \text{taught}\\
          & \text{delight} && \text{knight} && \text{plight} && \text{thought}\\
          & \text{eight} && \text{light} && \text{right} && \text{weight}
      \end{align*}
    2. Sort the above words into the following four groups.
      Words with...

      [ī] spelled <i> or <ei>

      [ā] spelled <ai> or <ei>

             
             
             
             
             
             
      Words with [o] spelled...
      <au> <ou>
             
             
             
             
    3. The sound [t] is spelled <ght> only after [ī] spelled _____ or _____, after [ā] spelled _____ or _____, or after [o] spelled _____ or _____.
    4. Several words related to two contain <tw>, and all have a meaning that includes the idea of “two.” Answer Yes or No to the question, "Do you hear the <w>?"
      Word Do you hear the <w>?
      4. twice  
      5. twin  
      6. twelve  
      7. between  
      8. twilight  
      9. twist  
      10. twine  
      11. twig  
      12. twenty  
    Show Answer
    1. \begin{align*}
          &  ali \underline{ght}  &&  fi \underline{ght}  &&  li \underline{ght}ning  &&  si \underline{ght} \\
          &  au \underline{ght}  &&  fli \underline{ght}  &&  midni \underline{ght}  &&  slei \underline{ght} \\
          &  bou \underline{ght}  &&  fou \underline{ght}  &&  mi \underline{ght}  &&  sli \underline{ght} \\
          &  bri \underline{ght}  &&  frei \underline{ght}  &&  nau \underline{ght}  &&  slau \underline{ght}er \\
          &  brou \underline{ght}  &&  fri \underline{ght}  &&  nau \underline{ght}y  &&  sou \underline{ght} \\
          &  cau \underline{ght}  &&  hau \underline{ght}y  &&  ni \underline{ght}  &&  strai \underline{ght} \\
          &  dau \underline{ght}er  &&  hei \underline{ght}  &&  ou \underline{ght}  &&  tau \underline{ght} \\
          &  deli \underline{ght}  &&  kni \underline{ght}  &&  pli \underline{ght}  &&  thou \underline{ght} \\
          &  ei \underline{ght}  &&  li \underline{ght}  &&  ri \underline{ght}  &&  wei \underline{ght} 
      \end{align*}
    2. Words with...

      [ī] spelled <i> or <ei>

      [ā] spelled <ai> or <ei>

      alight height night eight
      bright knight plight freight
      delight light right straight
      fight lightning sight weight
      flight midnight sleight  
      fright might slight  
      Words with [o] spelled. . .
      <au> <ou>
      aught naught bought ought
      caught naughty brought sought
      daughter slaughter fought thought
      haughty taught    
    3. The sound [t] is spelled <ght> only after [ī] spelled <i> or <ei>, after [ā] spelled <ai> or <ei>, or after [o] spelled <au> or <ou>.
    4. Word Do you hear the <w>?
      4. twice Yes
      5. twin Yes
      6. twelve Yes
      7. between Yes
      8. twilight Yes
      9. twist Yes
      10. twine Yes
      11. twig Yes
      12. twenty Yes

    Explore More 

    Word Changes. Follow the instructions very carefully and then fill in the blanks to complete the sentence at the end:

    1. Write the word debt: debt
    2. Change the vowel from <e> to <ou>: _______________
    3. Change the first consonant to the letter that comes two letters before it in the alphabet, and change the letter before the <t> to <gh>: _______________
    4. Change the first consonant to the letter that comes right after <s> in the alphabet, and change the first vowel to the first letter of the alphabet: _______________
    5. Change the first consonant to the second consonant in the alphabet: _______________
    6. Change the first consonant to the next-to-last letter in the alphabet; delete the second vowel letter; and change the second consonant to the letter that comes four places before it in the alphabet: _______________

    The sailor went into (Word #1) when he (Word #3) a (Word #6).

    Show Answer
    1. Write the word debt: debt
    2. Change the vowel from <e> to <ou>: doubt
    3. Change the first consonant to the letter that comes two letters before it in the alphabet, and change the letter before the <t> to <gh>: bought
    4. Change the first consonant to the letter that comes right after <s> in the alphabet, and change the first vowel to the first letter of the alphabet: taught
    5. Change the first consonant to the second consonant in the alphabet: caught
    6. Change the first consonant to the next-to-last letter in the alphabet; delete the second vowel letter; and change the second consonant to the letter that comes four places before it in the alphabet: yacht

    The sailor went into debt when he bought a yacht.