The next squeeze of the day: [nɛks]

English isn’t known for having lots of consonants in a row, but it can happen. And when it does… we may still not pronounce them all!

Think about this common phrase: “next step.” In very careful speech it might sound like [nɛkst stɛp], but that sequence of [kstst] makes me feel like my tongue has just tripped over something.

Listen to what happens in normal conversation. You might think the speaker is talking about some people’s necks, but in context, native speakers will recognize it as “next step.”

If the next word starts with a vowel, or a ‘w’ or ‘y,’ we do often hear the final [t].

the next year … they came to the US as refugees the next year
[nɛkstjiɹ]

Otherwise, that last [t] drops out, so “next” often sounds like “necks” – [nɛks]. Try pronouncing these combinations, then listen to the native speakers.

Now try these mini-dictations. You’ll hear “next” and the next (!) word(s) twice, then the complete short phrase.

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