Prononciation of the, with....


French France
I have some troubles with the "th" prononciation, like a lot of people I guess. Is it the same prononciation for with think although and
especially for the...? I have the impression that the is prononced Da whereas think, with, though are prononced with the tongue between the teeth.

When I want to prononce the "th" I have a "coussin d'air" between the tongue and the palate. Is that the correct way to prononce it?

Thanks a lot.
  • ablazza

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    The pronunciation of 'th' varies enormously.
    The th in think is a dry th, you just blow it out, as in th - ink, the th in with is said as in 'wi - the'. Before a vowel 'the' is pronounced like 'thee' eg. thee owl, thee iron, but the fox, the kettle.
    'The' should not be pronounced 'da'. That is a regional variation usually connected with non-native speakers, or speakers of English originating from the Caribbean and Africa, etc.


    United States - GA English
    With some possible exceptions I can't think of, "th" is always pronounced between the teeth (dental fricative) never as d -- which is difficult for many speakers since a lot of languages don't have this sound. The differencce between them is whether or not they are voiced --- the difference is the same as between s and z and f and v. Most speakers say that the voiced sounds are "softer" if you have a hard time telling the difference.


    With (usually, voiced would sound OK too)

    There is really no way to know which is which other than to memorize them. "-the" sounds are usually voiced.


    Senior Member
    UK English
    Put the tip of your tongue between the upper and lower teeth. With the lips open force air through the gap between the teeth. There are two sounds.

    First sound: do as described but do not allow the vocal cords to vibrate. You hear and feel the rush of moving air escaping betwen the lips. This sound is used in words such as breath, three, both, length, and earth. When you make the sound, and if you place your hand on your throat you feel no vibrations. Also, if you place your open palm in front of your mouth you feel the rush of air.

    Second sound: do as described but do allow the vocal cords to vibrate (best to do this loudly). This sound is used in breathe, clothes, with, and the. When you make the sound you feel the vibrations in your throat (hold your neck) but no air escapes from the lips.

    By the way, it isn't necessary to put the tongue so far forward that it is dangling out of the your mouth. A lot of speakers hardly push the tongue forward at all.

    There are websites that include sound files so that you can hear the sounds. However, you have to be a little careful because some are not so good at reproducing the sound. And one - the OUP - has a women speaker who voices all the invoiced consonants (makes a vibration with the vocal cords when she shouldn't). It's a bit surprising that such a prestigious university should make such a mistake - but, there you go -


    French France
    Thank you a lot. You really have enlighten me about these two songs. Sorry for responding late.

    I'm going to see this website.