How to Pronounce the TH Sound in English

Have you ever said the word FREE when you really wanted to say THREE?

The “TH” sound in English has been considered one of the most difficult sounds to reproduce phonetically by learners from all over the world, but is it really that difficult?

My answer is NO! In this video lesson I am going to teach you all about the two different “TH” sounds and give you some great tips on how to pronounce this commonly mistaken sound.

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TRANSCRIPT:

Aww yeah!

What’s up guys? I’m Chad, welcome to another episode of Real Life TV and today I’m going to teach you guys all about how to pronounce the TH sound in English.

 Is this Real Life?

So, have you guys ever had difficulty to pronounce the TH sound in English? Don’t worry, you’re just like every other English learner out there.

The Voiced and Unvoiced TH Sound

So, the first thing you have to know about the pronunciation of the TH sound in English is that there is actually two ways to pronounce this.

That’s right. We have what we call VOICED and UNVOICED. So, the difference here is that when I use the voiced TH sound in English I have this vibrating sound in my mouth. For example: th, th….

So, the way you pronounce this, is you put your tongue between your teeth and you make a “th” sound.

So, the voiced TH sound you’re going to hear a lot in words like the, them, these. So I’m just going to (gonna)… Repeat after me as I say this. The, that, them.

Can you hear that vibration? That is the voiced TH sound. -See pronunciation tips for the word CAN

Sometimes you’re going to hear this in the middle of a word. For example, a word like although. Although, although. Another word is another. Another, can you say that? Another.

The Voiced Vibration Sound 

So, just another way to make sure you’re pronouncing the voiced TH sound correctly is when you’re saying this, if you just touch your throat, you can feel the vibration. When I say a word like “the”, or “them”, I can really feel my throat vibrate with the pronunciation.

The Unvoiced TH Sound

Ok, so now let’s move into how to pronounce the unvoiced TH sound in English. A good example of this is the number three. That’s right, three. It’s a very subtle sound in comparison to the voiced.

So, many people say the word “three” as “tree” or “free”, but these are totally different words. So, to pronounce the unvoiced TH sound it’s a similar principle, you put your tongue between your teeth, but you blow air out – th, th, th. There’s no vibrating in my throat when I pronounce this.

Ok? So just practice it a couple of times: th, th, th. And let’s go through some words, so, again, just repeat after me. Three, thanks, thirty, or, American D, thir/D/y.

Ok. Sometimes you will hear the unvoiced TH at the end of a word. Words like mouth, both. Can you hear the difference there?

So let’s just compare the two TH sounds really quickly, we have voiced – th, th – and then unvoiced – th, th.

Common Words with the Voiced TH Sound

So, one thing you guys are going to notice is that generally the voiced TH sound, the th sound is when it’s in the start it’s often used with function words, these words like the, them, this, although, for example.

Another time you’re going to hear a lot of voiced TH sounds is when they are between two vowels, like I mentioned before the word mother, bother. They’re generally between two vowel sounds. It’s a rule, there’s always exceptions, but if you use this to kind of guide you, it’s a good start, just hearing the difference between the voiced and unvoiced TH sounds. Exceptions

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Ok guys, that does it for today’s episode of Real Life TV, we hope it really helped you. And, if you want more English lessons like this, please subscribe to our YouTube channel, and if you didn’t understand everything I was saying, just click on the link below and we’ll take you back to our website, where you can see the full transcript of this video lesson, ok?

Thanks a lot for being here today, and we hope to see you and hear from you guys in the future.

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  • tahmina

    nice

  • Rubens

    Cool m/

  • Thanks you. This lesson was very helpful

  • Adrian

    Everything explained very clearly. Thank you.

    • Ethan

      So glad you enjoyed! 🙂 Hope it’s helpful.

  • blakep

    Hi Ethan and/or Chad,

    Here’s a question from one of my (Chinese) students…..

    “I have a problem and I really need your help. So – I was told to bite my tongue when I speak the words with letters ‘th’, and today I came across a sentence ‘stem a stream with sand’. I found it really difficult to connect the ‘th’ and the ‘s’. If I bite my tongue when reading the ‘th’ in ‘with’ I cannot pronounce the ‘s’ in ‘sand’ very quickly. So please tell me how to deal with it.”

    I’d kind of fobbed her off and said “Keep practicing and I’ll look for some info online”, but am also a little curious myself. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.