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The Gloʔal Whaʔ – A Pronunciation 

Guide to the Glottal Stop.


162

 About

 British Accent Model

 45 Sounds

 Teachers

 Method

00:02 00:19  Student Testimonials

The glottal stop is a very common sound in British English; you’ve de nitely heard Courses
it even if you haven’t heard of it. How o en a native speaker uses it depends on
their accent and how fast they are speaking. All the glottal stops in this article are in
red, so let’s make a start, then.  Intro Class

 Group

How to Pronounce a Glottal Stop [ʔ]  Individual

 Online

00:00 00:28
 Fees

A glottal stop is made by closing the ow of air in the throat (glottis). E ectively, it is a short pause with
no air being released at all, so it’s easiest to hear it within words:

You’ll hear from these examples that the glottal stop tends to appear where there is a /t/, though it is
also possible as /p/ and /k/ – it largely depends on the accent of the speaker.

When to Pronounce a Glottal Stop

00:38 00:53

A glottal stop is o en pronounced in standard GB English when /t/ ends a syllable and the next sound
is a consonant:

rightly   witness   Scotland   Britpop   hitman

This happens in words and between them:

it was   that thing   cat ap   right side   shot stopper

GB English speakers may also use a glottal stop for /p/ and /k/ if the next sound is made in the same
place of the mouth:

stop me   background   top buy

It should be noted though, for all the examples above, that when a speaker is producing very clear, slow
speech, the glottal stop might not be used:

Scotland   cat ap   background

Glottal Stops in English Accents

00:00 00:00

Possibly the most notable feature of the glottal stop is the inconsistent way native speakers use it. It is
di cult to give a rule for any particular accent because everybody from Cockneys in East London to
the Royal Family in Buckingham Palace will use it di erently and a little bit randomly in their speech.

Cockney

Cockney speakers love glottal stops, they use them for /t/, /p/ and /k/:

Blackboard   daughter   waiting   stop it   tricky

Note that in cockney the glottal stop is used before unstressed vowel sounds – this is one of the
most recognisable features of a cockney accent, but is considered by many not to be acceptable in
standard pronunciation.

Estuary & Other Regional Accents

Estuary speakers are somewhere between GB and cockney, and their glottal stop usage re ects this.
They would use a glottal stop for /t/ in all the places GB speakers do, but they would also use them
at the end of a word even when followed by a vowel sound:

that isn’t right   it’s hot   I didn’t   there’s not a lot of money

This usage of a glottal stop before vowel sounds isn’t con ned to London, it‘s pretty common in
loads of regional English accents, like in Manchester. In Bristol you’ll hear it as well, we don’t say
the ‘t’s at the end normally.

Posh Accents

Old fashioned posh speakers might nd the glottal stop sounds incorrect to their ears and so they
might not think they use it at all for /t/. But they do sometimes, especially when /t/ is followed by
a consonant sound. See, I just did it then, and again then. In fact even the poshest of all speakers,
Her Majesty The Queen likes the occasional dabble¹:

Modern posh is a bit more relaxed, so you’ll certainly hear younger speakers using glottal stops all
the time before consonant sounds and occasionally before vowel sounds too. Have a listen to
Prince William, who could be crowned ‘king of the glottal stop’ one day:

“I certainly don’t lie awake waiting or hoping for it because it sadly means that my family have
moved on and I don’t want that.”²

¹ From Queen Elisabeth’s address to the nation in 1997.


²From a BBC Interview in 2016 (view full interview here). 

Tottenham Court Road

00:00 00:00

One of the hardest London underground stations for second language English speakers to pronounce
is ‘Tottenham Court Road’ – it’s all those ‘t’s that make it di cult, so the appropriate use of a glottal
stop can make it a lot easier. The way to simplify it is to break it into syllables:

1. [tɒʔ] 2. [nəm] 3. [kɔːʔ] 4. [rəʊd]

Other Uses of Glottal Stops

00:00 00:00

Although the glottal stop is most noticeable when it replaces /t/, it is also widely used before a stressed
vowel sound to add emphasis:

although [ʔɔːˈðəʊ]   go over [gəʊ ˈʔəʊvə]   reentry [riːˈʔentri]

This extends to connected speech where some speakers might use a linking /r/ sound, others put a
glottal stop:

pour onto [pɔː ˈʔɒntu] instead of /pɔːr ˈɒntu/


re engine [ˈfʌɪə ʔenʒɪn] instead of /ˈfaɪər enʒɪn/
extra energy [ekstrə ˈʔenədʒi] instead of /ekstrər ˈenədʒi/

Advice for Learners of English

00:00 00:00

The glottal stop is not a separate sound (phoneme) in English, so you don’t need to use it in order to
produce the entire range of English vocabulary. It is, however, a very distinguishable feature of English
accents, so learners who are aiming to produce British pronunciation in connected speech need to
know how and when to produce it.

By Joseph Hudson | April 25th, 2018 | Pronunciation, Pronunciation Guides | 8 Comments

8 Comments

Pedro April 28, 2018 at 8:21 am - Reply

Love this article. I’ve always been a great fan of glottal stops.

Francesco April 28, 2018 at 8:52 am - Reply

Great article, as always

Oxana Olarou April 28, 2018 at 9:18 am - Reply

Greate article. Thank you.

Penny April 28, 2018 at 9:27 am - Reply

Thanks! I’ve shared your great article with my students in Finland.

One little question, though. Isn’t “hit man” an example of assimilation /hɪpmæn/ rather than a
glottal stop? Or does that also depend on regional accents? How are they di erent (assimilation
and glottal stop)?

Pascal April 28, 2018 at 10:37 am - Reply

Loved that second to last piece about linking /r/ sounds. I noticed that in my own speech but
wasn’t even sure if it’s correct. This helped a lot!

Abdulbaki A Ahmad April 28, 2018 at 10:57 am - Reply

Thanks for the good work. That’s one aspect I admire about British English and indeed I’ve
learned from the article!

Tony Bittner April 28, 2018 at 3:50 pm - Reply

Excellent article on the use of the glottal stop. I loved the phonemic/allophonic transcriptions
and the audio samples.

matilda cubas April 28, 2018 at 8:41 pm - Reply

Great. Thanks a lot.

Leave A Comment

Comment...

Name (required) Email (required) Website

POST COMMENT

ʘ ʘ

 The Glottal What? A Pronunciation Guide to 37 Gray's Inn Rd, London, WC1X 8PQ
the Glottal Stop Phone: 0207 4040777
April 25, 2018 Email: info@pronunciationstudio.com

 A Pronunciation Guide to Tag Questions


March 19, 2018
Courses | Books | Blog | Contact

 The Importance of a Pause


February 19, 2018

 New Words 2017


December 18, 2017

 A Pronunciation Guide to Diphthong Vowel


Sounds
November 30, 2017

Copyright 2008 - 2017 Pronunciation Studio Ltd | All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy     
Courses Books Blog About 


The Gloʔal Whaʔ – A Pronunciation 

Guide to the Glottal Stop.


162

 About

 British Accent Model

 45 Sounds

 Teachers

 Method

00:02 00:19  Student Testimonials

The glottal stop is a very common sound in British English; you’ve de nitely heard Courses
it even if you haven’t heard of it. How o en a native speaker uses it depends on
their accent and how fast they are speaking. All the glottal stops in this article are in
red, so let’s make a start, then.  Intro Class

 Group

How to Pronounce a Glottal Stop [ʔ]  Individual

 Online

00:00 00:28
 Fees

A glottal stop is made by closing the ow of air in the throat (glottis). E ectively, it is a short pause with
no air being released at all, so it’s easiest to hear it within words:

You’ll hear from these examples that the glottal stop tends to appear where there is a /t/, though it is
also possible as /p/ and /k/ – it largely depends on the accent of the speaker.

When to Pronounce a Glottal Stop

00:38 00:53

A glottal stop is o en pronounced in standard GB English when /t/ ends a syllable and the next sound
is a consonant:

rightly   witness   Scotland   Britpop   hitman

This happens in words and between them:

it was   that thing   cat ap   right side   shot stopper

GB English speakers may also use a glottal stop for /p/ and /k/ if the next sound is made in the same
place of the mouth:

stop me   background   top buy

It should be noted though, for all the examples above, that when a speaker is producing very clear, slow
speech, the glottal stop might not be used:

Scotland   cat ap   background

Glottal Stops in English Accents

00:00 00:00

Possibly the most notable feature of the glottal stop is the inconsistent way native speakers use it. It is
di cult to give a rule for any particular accent because everybody from Cockneys in East London to
the Royal Family in Buckingham Palace will use it di erently and a little bit randomly in their speech.

Cockney

Cockney speakers love glottal stops, they use them for /t/, /p/ and /k/:

Blackboard   daughter   waiting   stop it   tricky

Note that in cockney the glottal stop is used before unstressed vowel sounds – this is one of the
most recognisable features of a cockney accent, but is considered by many not to be acceptable in
standard pronunciation.

Estuary & Other Regional Accents

Estuary speakers are somewhere between GB and cockney, and their glottal stop usage re ects this.
They would use a glottal stop for /t/ in all the places GB speakers do, but they would also use them
at the end of a word even when followed by a vowel sound:

that isn’t right   it’s hot   I didn’t   there’s not a lot of money

This usage of a glottal stop before vowel sounds isn’t con ned to London, it‘s pretty common in
loads of regional English accents, like in Manchester. In Bristol you’ll hear it as well, we don’t say
the ‘t’s at the end normally.

Posh Accents

Old fashioned posh speakers might nd the glottal stop sounds incorrect to their ears and so they
might not think they use it at all for /t/. But they do sometimes, especially when /t/ is followed by
a consonant sound. See, I just did it then, and again then. In fact even the poshest of all speakers,
Her Majesty The Queen likes the occasional dabble¹:

Modern posh is a bit more relaxed, so you’ll certainly hear younger speakers using glottal stops all
the time before consonant sounds and occasionally before vowel sounds too. Have a listen to
Prince William, who could be crowned ‘king of the glottal stop’ one day:

“I certainly don’t lie awake waiting or hoping for it because it sadly means that my family have
moved on and I don’t want that.”²

¹ From Queen Elisabeth’s address to the nation in 1997.


²From a BBC Interview in 2016 (view full interview here). 

Tottenham Court Road

00:00 00:00

One of the hardest London underground stations for second language English speakers to pronounce
is ‘Tottenham Court Road’ – it’s all those ‘t’s that make it di cult, so the appropriate use of a glottal
stop can make it a lot easier. The way to simplify it is to break it into syllables:

1. [tɒʔ] 2. [nəm] 3. [kɔːʔ] 4. [rəʊd]

Other Uses of Glottal Stops

00:00 00:00

Although the glottal stop is most noticeable when it replaces /t/, it is also widely used before a stressed
vowel sound to add emphasis:

although [ʔɔːˈðəʊ]   go over [gəʊ ˈʔəʊvə]   reentry [riːˈʔentri]

This extends to connected speech where some speakers might use a linking /r/ sound, others put a
glottal stop:

pour onto [pɔː ˈʔɒntu] instead of /pɔːr ˈɒntu/


re engine [ˈfʌɪə ʔenʒɪn] instead of /ˈfaɪər enʒɪn/
extra energy [ekstrə ˈʔenədʒi] instead of /ekstrər ˈenədʒi/

Advice for Learners of English

00:00 00:00

The glottal stop is not a separate sound (phoneme) in English, so you don’t need to use it in order to
produce the entire range of English vocabulary. It is, however, a very distinguishable feature of English
accents, so learners who are aiming to produce British pronunciation in connected speech need to
know how and when to produce it.

By Joseph Hudson | April 25th, 2018 | Pronunciation, Pronunciation Guides | 8 Comments

8 Comments

Pedro April 28, 2018 at 8:21 am - Reply

Love this article. I’ve always been a great fan of glottal stops.

Francesco April 28, 2018 at 8:52 am - Reply

Great article, as always

Oxana Olarou April 28, 2018 at 9:18 am - Reply

Greate article. Thank you.

Penny April 28, 2018 at 9:27 am - Reply

Thanks! I’ve shared your great article with my students in Finland.

One little question, though. Isn’t “hit man” an example of assimilation /hɪpmæn/ rather than a
glottal stop? Or does that also depend on regional accents? How are they di erent (assimilation
and glottal stop)?

Pascal April 28, 2018 at 10:37 am - Reply

Loved that second to last piece about linking /r/ sounds. I noticed that in my own speech but
wasn’t even sure if it’s correct. This helped a lot!

Abdulbaki A Ahmad April 28, 2018 at 10:57 am - Reply

Thanks for the good work. That’s one aspect I admire about British English and indeed I’ve
learned from the article!

Tony Bittner April 28, 2018 at 3:50 pm - Reply

Excellent article on the use of the glottal stop. I loved the phonemic/allophonic transcriptions
and the audio samples.

matilda cubas April 28, 2018 at 8:41 pm - Reply

Great. Thanks a lot.

Leave A Comment

Comment...

Name (required) Email (required) Website

POST COMMENT

ʘ ʘ

 The Glottal What? A Pronunciation Guide to 37 Gray's Inn Rd, London, WC1X 8PQ
the Glottal Stop Phone: 0207 4040777
April 25, 2018 Email: info@pronunciationstudio.com

 A Pronunciation Guide to Tag Questions


March 19, 2018
Courses | Books | Blog | Contact

 The Importance of a Pause


February 19, 2018

 New Words 2017


December 18, 2017

 A Pronunciation Guide to Diphthong Vowel


Sounds
November 30, 2017

Copyright 2008 - 2017 Pronunciation Studio Ltd | All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy     
Courses Books Blog About 


The Gloʔal Whaʔ – A Pronunciation 

Guide to the Glottal Stop.


162

 About

 British Accent Model

 45 Sounds

 Teachers

 Method

00:02 00:19  Student Testimonials

The glottal stop is a very common sound in British English; you’ve de nitely heard Courses
it even if you haven’t heard of it. How o en a native speaker uses it depends on
their accent and how fast they are speaking. All the glottal stops in this article are in
red, so let’s make a start, then.  Intro Class

 Group

How to Pronounce a Glottal Stop [ʔ]  Individual

 Online

00:00 00:28
 Fees

A glottal stop is made by closing the ow of air in the throat (glottis). E ectively, it is a short pause with
no air being released at all, so it’s easiest to hear it within words:

You’ll hear from these examples that the glottal stop tends to appear where there is a /t/, though it is
also possible as /p/ and /k/ – it largely depends on the accent of the speaker.

When to Pronounce a Glottal Stop

00:38 00:53

A glottal stop is o en pronounced in standard GB English when /t/ ends a syllable and the next sound
is a consonant:

rightly   witness   Scotland   Britpop   hitman

This happens in words and between them:

it was   that thing   cat ap   right side   shot stopper

GB English speakers may also use a glottal stop for /p/ and /k/ if the next sound is made in the same
place of the mouth:

stop me   background   top buy

It should be noted though, for all the examples above, that when a speaker is producing very clear, slow
speech, the glottal stop might not be used:

Scotland   cat ap   background

Glottal Stops in English Accents

00:00 00:00

Possibly the most notable feature of the glottal stop is the inconsistent way native speakers use it. It is
di cult to give a rule for any particular accent because everybody from Cockneys in East London to
the Royal Family in Buckingham Palace will use it di erently and a little bit randomly in their speech.

Cockney

Cockney speakers love glottal stops, they use them for /t/, /p/ and /k/:

Blackboard   daughter   waiting   stop it   tricky

Note that in cockney the glottal stop is used before unstressed vowel sounds – this is one of the
most recognisable features of a cockney accent, but is considered by many not to be acceptable in
standard pronunciation.

Estuary & Other Regional Accents

Estuary speakers are somewhere between GB and cockney, and their glottal stop usage re ects this.
They would use a glottal stop for /t/ in all the places GB speakers do, but they would also use them
at the end of a word even when followed by a vowel sound:

that isn’t right   it’s hot   I didn’t   there’s not a lot of money

This usage of a glottal stop before vowel sounds isn’t con ned to London, it‘s pretty common in
loads of regional English accents, like in Manchester. In Bristol you’ll hear it as well, we don’t say
the ‘t’s at the end normally.

Posh Accents

Old fashioned posh speakers might nd the glottal stop sounds incorrect to their ears and so they
might not think they use it at all for /t/. But they do sometimes, especially when /t/ is followed by
a consonant sound. See, I just did it then, and again then. In fact even the poshest of all speakers,
Her Majesty The Queen likes the occasional dabble¹:

Modern posh is a bit more relaxed, so you’ll certainly hear younger speakers using glottal stops all
the time before consonant sounds and occasionally before vowel sounds too. Have a listen to
Prince William, who could be crowned ‘king of the glottal stop’ one day:

“I certainly don’t lie awake waiting or hoping for it because it sadly means that my family have
moved on and I don’t want that.”²

¹ From Queen Elisabeth’s address to the nation in 1997.


²From a BBC Interview in 2016 (view full interview here). 

Tottenham Court Road

00:00 00:00

One of the hardest London underground stations for second language English speakers to pronounce
is ‘Tottenham Court Road’ – it’s all those ‘t’s that make it di cult, so the appropriate use of a glottal
stop can make it a lot easier. The way to simplify it is to break it into syllables:

1. [tɒʔ] 2. [nəm] 3. [kɔːʔ] 4. [rəʊd]

Other Uses of Glottal Stops

00:00 00:00

Although the glottal stop is most noticeable when it replaces /t/, it is also widely used before a stressed
vowel sound to add emphasis:

although [ʔɔːˈðəʊ]   go over [gəʊ ˈʔəʊvə]   reentry [riːˈʔentri]

This extends to connected speech where some speakers might use a linking /r/ sound, others put a
glottal stop:

pour onto [pɔː ˈʔɒntu] instead of /pɔːr ˈɒntu/


re engine [ˈfʌɪə ʔenʒɪn] instead of /ˈfaɪər enʒɪn/
extra energy [ekstrə ˈʔenədʒi] instead of /ekstrər ˈenədʒi/

Advice for Learners of English

00:00 00:00

The glottal stop is not a separate sound (phoneme) in English, so you don’t need to use it in order to
produce the entire range of English vocabulary. It is, however, a very distinguishable feature of English
accents, so learners who are aiming to produce British pronunciation in connected speech need to
know how and when to produce it.

By Joseph Hudson | April 25th, 2018 | Pronunciation, Pronunciation Guides | 8 Comments

8 Comments

Pedro April 28, 2018 at 8:21 am - Reply

Love this article. I’ve always been a great fan of glottal stops.

Francesco April 28, 2018 at 8:52 am - Reply

Great article, as always

Oxana Olarou April 28, 2018 at 9:18 am - Reply

Greate article. Thank you.

Penny April 28, 2018 at 9:27 am - Reply

Thanks! I’ve shared your great article with my students in Finland.

One little question, though. Isn’t “hit man” an example of assimilation /hɪpmæn/ rather than a
glottal stop? Or does that also depend on regional accents? How are they di erent (assimilation
and glottal stop)?

Pascal April 28, 2018 at 10:37 am - Reply

Loved that second to last piece about linking /r/ sounds. I noticed that in my own speech but
wasn’t even sure if it’s correct. This helped a lot!

Abdulbaki A Ahmad April 28, 2018 at 10:57 am - Reply

Thanks for the good work. That’s one aspect I admire about British English and indeed I’ve
learned from the article!

Tony Bittner April 28, 2018 at 3:50 pm - Reply

Excellent article on the use of the glottal stop. I loved the phonemic/allophonic transcriptions
and the audio samples.

matilda cubas April 28, 2018 at 8:41 pm - Reply

Great. Thanks a lot.

Leave A Comment

Comment...

Name (required) Email (required) Website

POST COMMENT

ʘ ʘ

 The Glottal What? A Pronunciation Guide to 37 Gray's Inn Rd, London, WC1X 8PQ
the Glottal Stop Phone: 0207 4040777
April 25, 2018 Email: info@pronunciationstudio.com

 A Pronunciation Guide to Tag Questions


March 19, 2018
Courses | Books | Blog | Contact

 The Importance of a Pause


February 19, 2018

 New Words 2017


December 18, 2017

 A Pronunciation Guide to Diphthong Vowel


Sounds
November 30, 2017

Copyright 2008 - 2017 Pronunciation Studio Ltd | All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy     