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Zuba

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こんにちは、皆さん。元気ですか。

I have always had a difficult time telling how to pronounce this. Sometimes it sounds like the い is fully enunciated and other it sounds like the て is merely extended.

For example
開い て/ ます The  て and い are enunciated separately.
開い (てえ) ます And in this the え sound from て is just lengthened.

The first form where the い is discernable is the form I hear more often, but I just want to make sure this is correct.

I am also of the train of thought this might be one of those situations were both are correct and it is just a small pronunciation thing that is acceptable. Like how you can say the す fully in です, but do not have to.

よろしくお願いします。じゃ、また。
 

Toritoribe

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ています is usually not pronounced てえます. I suppose you just heard the contraction form てます.
 

nice gaijin

Resident Realist
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If you're fully pronouncing it, the てい in ています is more a dipthong, where the tongue rises from the initial "e" to the final high vowel "i" position. If you kept a flat, protracted "e" sound it wouldn't affect comprehension, and likely few people would even notice, but if you aren't going to pronounce the "i," it's more common to contract the vowel and drop the "i" altogether, as @Toritoribe mentioned. This is a casual contraction, so I would avoid it if I'm trying to be formal.
 
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