The t in Often is Often Silent

This page was first created on the 10th of March, 2016 and last updated on the 4th of May, 2017 by Patrick Carpen.

letter photoEnglish spelling and pronunciation can be challenging. It does not follow a regular beat or pattern. We say “come”, but “hum”. Then we have “bite”, but “light”…and the list goes on.

Further, there are sometimes too possible pronunciations of the same word. For example, the word “lieutenant” has both a British and an American spelling. The British will say “leftenant”, while the American would say “lootenant”.

But the trouble spot I’d like to address in this article is the pronunciation of the word “often”. The world “often” has two possible pronunciations and there is a raging debate going on worldwide as to the correct pronunciation. The truth: both pronunciations are correct.

When a word has too possible pronunciation, the dictionary will list both. Usually, the preferred pronunciation is listed first.

Some Brits leave out the “t” in the word “often”, making their pronunciation sound like “offen”, while others pronounce it. On the same note, some Americans say “offen” while others say “often”.

I did some research on the subject and found that a particular pronunciation is not localized to any significant geographical region. For example, you can visit a city in England and hear “offen”, then drive a few miles down the road to another city and hear “often”.

My research unearthed that “offen” is more of a UK pronunciation, but it is also prevalent in the United States. Most authority websites claimed that “offen” is the more preferred pronunciation.

Personally, how do I feel? I once considered going with “offen” too, but after I heard my favorite singer, Chris de Burgh, saying “often” in his song “Always on my Mind”, I decided to stick with the legend.

The conclusion, I still say “often”, because I’m a fan of Chris de Burgh, but you can say whichever you please, as often as you wish.

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