Cassidy Williams

Software Engineer in Chicago

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The T in Often

It is common to pronounce the letter “T” in the word often. I must say this is a huge pet peeve of mine.

The stem word for often is “oft” — in which the t is pronounced. But when the ending “en” is added, the t sound is lost (though it remains in the spelling). There are, in fact, MANY examples of this sort of shift in English and in every other case the t becomes silent when followed by an -en or -le.

For example, soft (pronounced) vs. soften (silent).

More examples:

  • list -> listen
  • glisten
  • fast [as in ‘held secure’] -> fasten
  • haste -> hasten
  • moist -> moisten
  • nest -> nestle
  • castle; mistletoe; whistle; trestle; gristle; thistle

Unfortunately, so many people started to pronounce the “t” that many regard is as an acceptable alternative, in certain dialects. That’s the way language goes, I suppose, if enough people make the same mistake for long enough that it is no longer a mistake!

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