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tennesseejac's avatar

Do you pronounce the D when saying "used to"?

Asked by tennesseejac (3766 points ) February 10th, 2009

Maggie used to have pancakes every morning, until she found out she was being used to get fat in order for the wolves to have a big anniversary dinner.

what is the deal with that?

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29 Answers

ark_a_dong's avatar

I say it with more of a quiet ‘t’ sound at the end.

tennesseejac's avatar

@ark_a_dong so you basically disregard the D?
and just say USETO?

Jayne's avatar

No; the pronunciation of a ‘d’ and a ‘t’ in this context are, to my ear, identical, and so to pronounce both of them distinctly forces one to create an unnaturally long pause between the words.

ark_a_dong's avatar

@tennesseejac
no, not usedTO. it’s more like usedt, where the ‘d’ is kind of silent or something. it’s hard to describe how you pronounce a letter.

aprilsimnel's avatar

It comes out more like “use da” for me. A sure sign I’ve lived in New York for far too long.

ark_a_dong's avatar

WOW, lol. I just figured out the ‘t’ sound is coming from the way you used the word in your example. You used the word ‘to’ after every instance of ‘use’.

When I say it in a sentence like ”..it was used for science,” it’s much more easier to pronounce the ‘d’.

tennesseejac's avatar

in my sample sentence there are two different “used to” phrases, but when reading it do you pronounce these the same or do you stress the D more on the second one as opposed to the first where its talking about past tense

ark_a_dong's avatar

Yeah, in the second instance it’s easier for me to pronounce the ‘d’ sound because the way I stress the word.

Are you trying to make an observation, or are you just curious about how people pronounce things?

La_chica_gomela's avatar

In linguistic terms, this is what’s going on:

If you think about it, where you put your tongue to make the sounds “d” and “t” are exactly the same place. The two sounds are just analogues of each other (called allophones). While “d” is “voiced”, “t” is “devoiced”. If you make each sound while your fingers are on your the front of your throat, you’ll notice that you can feel a vibration with the “d” but not with the “t”. That’s what “voiced” versus “devoiced” means. The “d” is voiced.

This is part of the study of phonology. If you search the term in wikipedia, you’ll find a lot of other cool info. Well I think it’s cool anyway :).

What’s happening here is the phrase “used to” basically functions as one word when it takes the semantical meaning of “an auxiliary verb expressing an on-going action done previously” is that since the “s” sound, is devoiced, after making it, the tongue moves up to the alveolar ridge, where the “d” and “t” sounds are made, and continues the devoicing since the two sounds surrounding the “d” (the “s” in “used” and the “t” in “to” are devoiced.

In the sentence you gave about Maggy, the phrase does not take this meaning. The two words “used” and “to” retain their separate meanings, and thus, the tongue does not move directly from one to the other without pause, but instead a native speaker would generally pronounce “used” and “to” distinctly, to invoke the separate meanings of each word.

(I tried to write this in the most lay-person terms possible, but I’m not sure I achieved that, so if you don’t understand something, it’s my fault, not yours, please ask!)

Kiev749's avatar

use’t to is how i normally say it…

asmonet's avatar

I pronounce the ‘d’ more clearly on the second one.

I got it, chica. ;)

RandomMrdan's avatar

in the first instance of the sentence, I’d pronounce it “use to” leaving out the D sound.

the second instance I’d pronounce the D sound.

Jeruba's avatar

(Agreeing with La_chica_gomela) We have the same sound at the end of most ’-ed’ words of one syllable: washed, wished, laughed, helped, looked, etc. We say “washt” and so on. It’s just the way we treat that sound. It’s different with words that have a separate syllable—e.g., lifted, tasted, parted. Then we hear the d, unless we have that odd regional habit of speech in which “wanted” becomes “wannet” and “didn’t” becomes “dinnet.”

In the first case, I don’t say “useto.” I say “uset [yoost] to”—two separate t sounds. In the second, it is a different phrase, not the idiom for past habitual action, and it is said differently: yooz’d.

loser's avatar

Hmm! Never really thought about this one! I guess I don’t pronounce the “d” at all. It just comes out “Use to”. Wow! I learned something about myself today!!! Fluther is so cool! Yesterday I learned that I snore and hog the blanket and now I’ve learned that I really mispronounce “used to”. Who needs self help books? The world just needs Fluther!!!

I feel so much more well rounded now!

Jeruba's avatar

@tennesseejac, I lurve your example, by the way. Are we going to be hearing any more about the wolves and what sort of anniversary they’re celebrating, and what happened to Maggie when she quit eating the pancakes? You’ve almost got enough for a screenplay there, or at least for a two-page treatment.

loser's avatar

Throw in a frizzer and I bet you’ll have a movie script!!!

dynamicduo's avatar

In the example sentence you put, where the word “used” is an action verb (she is being actively used), I pronounce it correctly, with the D at the end.

But in this sentence, “She got used to the cold weather,” I would not pronounce the D, instead slurring the D into the T of to.

andrew's avatar

To add to @La_chica_gomela‘s point, in addition to thinking about the physical similarity of production a voiced and non-voiced pairs (like d/t or p/b), the issue you’re thinking about @tennesseejac is the distinction between aspirated and non-aspirated consonants (see aspiration).

In “good speech” (as dictated by edith skinner), one would “pronounce” the d in your sentence, but it would be non-aspirated. It’s similar to the way you pronounce the “k” sound in “markdown” versus “mark, it’s down”. The wikipedia article goes into when consonant should or shouldn’t be aspirated.

I spent three years learning when and when not to do this, all so I could talk like Brian Atene.

I’ll see if I can make a video to show you what I mean.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

Using the sample sentence:

I would pronounce the first as “youstoo” and the second as “used to”, that is I pronounce the “d”...unless I was conscientiously attempting to maintain a more formal pronunciation. I just noticed that I also have a different pronunciation for the “s” in the first instance. It is a hard /s/ as in strong. My pronunciation in the second, and most other instances of the word “used” is “yooz’d”.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

my ‘d’ and ‘t’ kind of blend together.

“yoosdtoo”
something like that

asmonet's avatar

@andrew: I’m dying to know why you did that.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@asmonet, bet you 5 bucks it has to do with acting.

asmonet's avatar

Well, yeah. By why so long and so serious? I want specifics!

La_chica_gomela's avatar

me too! just sayin’ ;-)

andrew's avatar

@asmonet: 3 years of drama school to get an MFA and have people ask me why I “talk affected.”

asmonet's avatar

@andrew: Good reason. Love it.

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

Maggie used to have pancakes every morning, until she found out she was being used to get fat in order for the wolves to have a big anniversary dinner.

What it bolded I don’t pronounce the D; what it italicized I do pronounce it.

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