Are you tending your Speech Garden?

Yesterday, I spent a glorious afternoon enjoying the first day of spring by working in the yard and planting the first vegetables of the year in my backyard garden. Unlike many people, I actually enjoy pulling weeds. I think it’s the satisfaction I get of seeing how much better the garden looks afterwards! Also, I know that weeding gives the plants I’m trying to grow a much better chance of becoming strong and healthy.

What about you? Do you like to grow a vegetable or flower garden? What about a speech garden?

Have you ever thought about your American accent as being like a garden? The better you tend it, feeding and watering it and pulling the weeds of unnecessary speech patterns, the stronger and more beautiful your speech garden becomes!

So, here’s my spring challenge to you.

Take some time to care for your speech garden this year.

What aspects of your speech need tended to so they can grow? You know that certain areas of your American accent are good — maybe grammar and vocabulary. But you also know that with a little practice, or a little feeding and watering, those areas could be even better.

Do you have some unhealthy “weeds” in your speech patterns? Maybe these are sounds that make your speech difficult for others to understand. If you could just “weed out”, or get rid of, a few of those pesky sounds, your speech would be much clearer.

How much better will your speech garden look in a few months if you take the time to plan for its growth right now?

What will you do to get rid of the weeds and ensure the healthy growth of your speech garden?

Sometimes, weeds can look a lot like a healthy plant, especially in the beginning. It can be difficult to figure out which ones to keep and which ones to pull and throw away. Often, the best way to figure it out is to ask someone who can identify those weeds and show you which ones to get rid of .

If you are looking for someone to identify the “weeds” that need to be pulled from your speech to improve your American accent, I would love to show you. Together, we can grow a beautiful speech garden for you! We’ll identify all the strong, healthy plants that need to stay as well as the unhelpful weeds that need to go.

Spring is the perfect time to get your speech garden growing well. I’ll help you eliminate the weeds that need to go, and I’ll provide you with practice materials that are the food to strengthen the sounds you want to keep in your American accent. We’ll walk through your speech garden every week to be sure that everything is growing as planned.

By fall, you will be amazed at the wonderful, bounteous garden of American speech that you have been able to grow!

I can’t wait to get started! Are you ready to join me?

Click here to get your free Accent Screening and start growing your speech garden today!

American Pronunciation: Go To, Got To, or Gotta?

One of my readers, Peter, sent me a question after reading my recent post on the pronunciation of T in hot tea. He wanted to know the difference in the American pronunciation of the expressions go to and got to. I thought this was such as wonderful question that I wanted to address it in a blog post.

To help you hear the differences, I have recorded a video of me explaining the sounds and have also written out the explanation for you below.


First, let’s look at the pronunciation of each expression individually.

To pronounce go to, we say the hard G followed by a long O, GO, and then say a crisp, or released T followed by the long U, or OO sound. GO TOO.

To pronounce got to, we will say the hard G followed by the short o or AH vowel, hold the T at the end of the word, then release the T as we say to, with a long u, or OO sound. GAH-TOO

Also, I think we need to mention the shortened version of got to used in more casual conversation: gotta.

To pronounce gotta,we start out exactly the same as with GOT TO, using the AH sound, then blend the two T’s in to a fast T , or D sound, and instead of ending with the precise pronunciation of TO, we shorten and simplify the ending with a SCHWA sound. So, when we put it all together in rapid speech, it becomes GAH-DUH.

Now, let’s talk about when we would use these expressions. GO TO is a verb indicating movement from one place to another. I want to go to the store.

GOT TO indicates either that you were able to do something in the past, or that you need to do something in the future. When talking about the future, you must always use HAVE or HAS with it.

When talking about the past, you might say:

I got to go see a movie yesterday.


They got to ride in the new car.

But, when talking about the future, you would say,

I have got to finish my project.


I’ve got to go get some groceries.

Often in casual conversation, the GOT TO is reduced or simplified to GOTTA, as in:

I’ve gotta go to the store.

So, remember that go to, got to, and gotta each have their own distinct pronunciation and usage. You will impress those around you with your knowledge of American pronunciation when you can use these words correctly. Come on now, you’ve gotta give it a try! What have you got to lose?

Was this post helpful to you? What questions do you have about American pronunciation? Let me know in the comments below!