This is the ULTIMATE Pronunciation Guide for the TH sounds in English! (Yes, soundS… Because there are two!) In this lesson, I'll be sharing some super tips so you know when to use the voiced and voiceless sounds, improve your pronunciation skills; express yourself clearly in conversation; and ultimately, give you more confidence to speak in English!
Although the TH sounds are difficult for English learners, in this lesson, I'll break it down for you… I promise you lots of pronunciation tips and practical ways to improve your TH pronunciation! Let's do it!
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT PRONUNCIATION: My video lessons are created to help English learners to improve their pronunciation and speaking skills. Please note that the pronunciation of some of these words differs between English accents. I speak with an Australian English accent 🙂
CLICK HERE to read the full lesson transcript.
More English lessons recommended for you:
Well hey there I'm Emma from mmmEnglish!
In this lesson, I'll go over the pronunciation of the ‘th' sounds. I'll remind you how to make the sounds because actually there are two sounds made by the letters ‘th' and I'll give you some guidelines to help you to decide when to use each sound. And more importantly, we'll practise using these sounds in sentences because that's when it gets tricky.
Before we get started, I want to say a huge welcome to my newest subscribers I'm looking forward to taking you on an English language journey.
If you haven't subscribed to my channel yet, then you can do it just by hitting that red subscribe button right there.
Okay so the ‘th' sounds are really common, really common in English, though, not many other languages use these sounds. So if you're having trouble pronouncing the ‘th' sounds, then don't feel bad about it, you're definitely not alone.
But the good news is you can improve this sound and you can start to feel more natural as you're using it but you have to commit! Improving your pronunciation is like going to the gym. The first time, you're gonna suck at it. But each time that you go back and you work those muscles a little bit more, the easier it will get and the better you'll feel about yourself, right?
So remember, that the tongue is also a muscle and you need to strengthen it, you need to workout.
So let's review the position of the tongue. Open your mouth and push your tongue through, just a little. Not like this, like this. Put your finger there if you're unsure about where to stop your tongue. Notice that the tongue is not completely relaxed, there's a little tension. If you rub the bottom of your teeth with your tongue, can you feel the tension in your tongue? This is the same amount of tension that you need to hold the ‘th' position. The tongue is not completely relaxed, it's lifted and running through the middle of your mouth.
If your tongue is too high in the mouth, up behind your teeth, you'll make that /t/ or /d/ sound. And if your tongue is not coming through your teeth, if you keep it inside, you'll make a /s/ or a /z/ sound. So you really must pay attention to the tip of your tongue, it must come through between your teeth.
Now as I mentioned, there are two ‘th' sounds, a voiced sound and an unvoiced sound. Now both of these sounds use exactly the same mouth position. It's just that the sound comes from a different place.
Voiced consonant sounds are made using the vocal cords. So once you've got your teeth and your mouth in position and you make a sound here, you should feel a buzzing. It might even tickle your tongue a little.
Unvoiced consonant sounds are made by air pushing through your mouth. So it's the air that creates the sound. So keep your tongue and your mouth in the same position, make sure you've got some air in your lungs and push the air through. So this is the unvoiced ‘th' sound.
So when should you use the voiced or the unvoiced sound? That's a great question because both sounds are represented by the same letters. And I wish I had a simple answer for you, I know that you like it when I have a simple explanation of why this rule is like that and when you should use it but unfortunately in this situation, there are lots of exceptions.
But there are some guidelines that I'm going to share with you, guides that will help you to make a decision and help you to use the correct ‘th' sound. Remember they're guides, not rules but let's focus on the unvoiced sound first, made with air.
So a ‘th' at the beginning of content words is usually an unvoiced ‘th' sound. So content words are words that provide the meaning in a sentence. There are nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs. Words like:
So the ‘th' at the start of content words is usually unvoiced. Now if there is a ‘th' in the middle of a word, before a consonant, it's usually unvoiced.
And a ‘th' at the end of a word is usually unvoiced.
There are some exceptions though. And I'm going to talk about those in just a minute. Now the voiced ‘th' sound made using your vocal cords.
So if there's a ‘th' at the beginning of a structure word, they're usually voiced. So structure words, sometimes called function words, are different to content words because they don't have a lot of meaning in English sentences. They're grammatical words. They don't tell us a lot of information but they're important to the structure of English sentences.
So structure words are words like:
So all of these words, I mean, some of these words are very, very, common English words, right? They're very, very common. So learning to pronounce the different ‘th' sounds is really important if you want to sound natural when you speak English. There is a noticeable difference.
Now a ‘th' in the middle of the word, when it's between two vowel sounds is usually this voiced sound.
Now I said the ‘th' is usually unvoiced at the end of words but except if the word ends ends in ‘-the' like:
So these are pretty good guides but there are always exceptions, aren't there? English!
There are exceptions like:
All of these words are breaking the rules and there are more! Actually if you can think of any more, please add them to the comments so that we can talk about some of the exceptions in the comments.
But anyway, now that you've got through most of these guidelines, it's time to practise. So I want you to repeat after me.
Throw those things to Theo.
There are three of them over there.
At three thirty on Thursday, a thousand of those thrilling thinkers will gather.
I love tongue twisters! Can you think of your own ‘th' tongue twister? I think I thought I.. If you can think of one, put it in the comments so that we can all practise together. Put your ‘th' tongue twisters right down in the comments and let's practise!
What a workout! Well done to you! I mean your tongue might feel a little exhausted after that so you can take a break now. But make sure that you come back to this lesson tomorrow or the next day and practise again. It's just like doing sit-ups right? Each time you do it, it will get a little bit easier.
Well that's it for this lesson! I really hope that you enjoyed it. Please make sure you give it a ‘like' and subscribe to my channel because I make new lessons here, every single week. Thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next lesson!
mmmEnglish Video Lessons are a series of video lessons created to build confidence in English learners and focus on English in daily life. Download them and watch them anywhere! Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to be the first to get my new videos, and come and say hi on my Facebook page!!
Hi, Emma thank you for all my heart.
Hi, Emma thank for all my heart.
Usage of ‘th'sound is good.But it must be practised by listening to native speakers.That
Can give learners much
I couldn't agree more! The more you interact with native English speakers, the faster your English will improve 🙂
Hi! Emma i'm very poor in speaking english. Thanks for your guidance. It'll be my pleasure if you would help me more further. Love your help Emma❤
The usage of ‘th'is useful.But the actual
Practice could be achieved by listening to
The native speakers.That can be the
Best practice.Thank you!
thank you so much Emma for this video
You're welcome Mohammed! What other English sounds do you have trouble pronouncing? 🙂
Thank you so much for your teaching. I really love your lessons and the way that you explain. I try to practice and follow your guide daily.
Thank you, Thanh!
I am enjoying the English Grammar lesson. My aim is to master of aspect and art of the English Language. Most of all, I want to submit my name to get your newsletter, get your YouTube lesson and he online less. I love the way you teach the English Emma.
Thank you, Michael! You can sign up to my newsletter here:
And subscribe to my Youtube channel here 🙂
thank you beautiful Emma
And what do you think about this one? 🙂
There those thousand thinkers were thinking
how did the other three thieves go through.
You're welcome, Vu!
Emma, words cannot express my gratitude. You are one of the best gifts!!!!!
Like every time your lessons are the best ones.
There are years, I have been seeking to know when the “th” is voiced or unvoiced. thanks to this lesson my problem is resolved at more than 80%. thank you so much, Emma.
I'm so pleased to hear that Sadek! Thank you!
Thnak you very much
Hi Emma! I listened to your advice. And after TLP pronunciation lesson, I ran to your Facebook video: Great complement to the other lesson. Well, the other lesson was a great complement to this one. If I had watched it before the TLP lesson, I could have taken even more advantage of TLP lesson, I think. Anyway, I could deepen my understanding of guidelines about the pronunciation of “THE”. And I could extend my list of tongue twisters. Great lesson, Emma! Thanks very much! Here is my little story with THE: ” Don't bother at six thirty! Take a breath in the early morning before you bathe, and then take a coffee if you're thirsty. Put on your clothes thinking about things worthy to be lived. In continuation, prepare enjoying a thrilling day, this time trying to gather laughing people around you. It is not a tongue twister but it has several tricky words to pronounce. See you soon, Dear Emma
Hi Emma. Your English lessons and your beautiful image make me spend very pleasant moments. I enjoy them. Thank you!
Hi Emma. Your English lessons and your beautiful image make me to spend very pleasant moments. I enjoy them. Thank you!
thank you very much for this lesson. It’s exactly that what I need the most. I can improve my skills to pronounce the TH in the right way by imitating your clear voice.
Lots of greetings
My pleasure, Toni! I'm so glad that my lessons are helping you improve your English!
I'am a real beginner and I don't understand when you speak but I like listen and I want continue again again and again best gifts Pierre from Tahiti french Polynesia
Well I like to much, all topics and learning more
Hi Emma, the biggest difficulty, as an Italian, is in the th sound followed by s. Both unvoiced, like “months”, and voiced, like “clothes”.
Hi Emma! Great as usual. Every language´s got pronunciation pitfalls, mine has a very unique consonant: “ř” (the “r” with a little hook above it).
Perhaps, you should have mentioned some common exceptions, like Thames, Theresa, etc. No, I mean I love your lessons and the “the” lesson is especially very very helpful.
hey THere, THanks a lot dear Emma!
i've heard and watch your videos while driving car.
it helps me to improve my English.
i wish you make some Podcasts 🙂
Thanks Mohammad! I was a guest on a podcast once actually! You can listen to it here 🙂
Thanks for the useful lesson! But do you think that we,none native speakers can handle the pronunciation like you show?
I like the way you teach Emma and i enjoy every lesson you posted.
Thank you, Vannak!
Respectable Teacher Emma Jacobi,
You are great hard working, devoted teacher and you make all lessons with great hard work, Sincere devotion, so nicely explains each and every word of the lesson and so systematically brings each and everything for explanations that reflect your great hard work and I am finding myself deficient of vocabulary to praise it the way which you honestly, sincerely, humbly, truly, exactly deserve it. You are great teacher of great talent.
I submit my apology for being short of vocabulary, I am honestly trying my best to learn fast more vocabulary so that I don't find myself to be deficient of vocabulary the way you exactly deserve appreciation for so nice teaching Respectable Teacher Emma.
Today, You taught and give us ” Nine Tips Regarding Improvment Of English Language”. All tips that you have given for improvement of English Language are absolutely great and correct.
Associate Electrical Engineer Khalid Anis.
I love you Emma, thanks for a great lesson about pronuntiation. A great kiss for you from of Venezuela.
Thank you, you're love lly and I love you.
Thank you Emma. That’s very very helpful for me.
You're very welcome, Nisa! Hope your tongue got a good workout from this video
Many thanks Emmma