Have you been struggling with the pronunciation of the TH sound?
If you have, this is your lucky day!
In this episode, I’m going to teach you how to pronounce the TH consonant sound in American English, how to avoid common pronunciation mistakes, and most importantly, how you can ‘cheat’ to make your pronunciation of the TH smoother and easier.
Hey there it’s Hadar, and this is the Accent’s Way.
And today we’re going to talk about how to pronounce the th sound.
Okay. So the th sound is a sneaky sound.
First of all, it’s an uncomfortable sound for most non-native speakers.
Because you have to stick the tongue to make the th, which is indeed uncomfortable.
We’ll first talk about how to pronounce it, and then we’ll talk about all the exceptions, and how much work you really need to put into this. Okay?
So first of all, to make the th sound you want to stick the tongue out but just a bit like this, okay?
Not too much, okay?
Not too little.
Because that may sound like a different sound, like a T, for example.
So to make the th sound the tongue needs to be out and allow the air to pass between the tongue and teeth creating this friction sound.
Do it with me!
Now we have two different th’s.
One, the voiceless th, and if you put your hands here and release air
Right? You don’t feel anything here.
You feel the air coming out and now try this with me: th
Did you feel vibrations?
Good. Because that’s the voiced th.
Here it was air with the vocal cords vibrating.
Now we haven’t changed anything here.
For both the tongue was out in the air was passing between the tongue and teeth.
Now two things you want to pay attention to.
1. You want to make sure that the tongue is
out. Because otherwise it’s gonna sound like a different sound.
Like a T ‘tink’, like a T or maybe ‘sink’ like an S if the tongue is too far back.
So you want to make sure it’s out.
Not too far out, right.
Also you want to make sure that the tongue is relaxed: th
If it’s too tight of if the body of the tongue is going to block the air inside the mouth
it’s still gonna sound like a T, ‘tink’. Even though my tongue is out.
That doesn’t serve me, right.
So you want to relax your tongue th and feel the air passing: th
It should feel like an F sound but make sure that if you tend to substitute the th with an F sound,
make sure that it’s not the bottom lip that touches the the teeth but your tongue.
And by the way how do you know that your tongue is not too far out.
You can put your finger here on your teeth: think
and say a few words with a th.
And you want to feel the tongue just slightly touching your finger not pushing against it
because if you feel your tongue pushing against your finger then your tongue is too far out, okay? Good.
So let’s practice a few words:
Make sure it doesn’t sound like ‘day’, alright.
Or is a ‘zay’
my brother and mother
Now when it comes to functional words with th like “the”, “this”, “that”, “those”.
First of all, these are sneaky words because you don’t think about them and then automatically your mouth would want to say something like “the”, this”, “that”, “those”.
Now here it’s okay to cheat.
Generally, we are in favor of cheating, okay.
So whenever you don’t have to pronounce the full sound, don’t. Okay?
I’m telling you it’s okay.
So, for example, for words like “the,” “this,” “that,” “those” you can stick,
like you don’t have to stick the tongue out.
You can place it on the back of your teeth, the top teeth.
So it sounds like a D, but it’s not “dis,” “de” but
So you can’t see my tongue coming out, but again it’s not a D sound. It’s “a D on the teeth.”
And then it’s totally fine.
So it’s a lot easier to pronounce, especially when you need to transition between sounds like the-car, the-sun, right.
It’s harder to do the-sun.
So if you put it behind the teeth: the-sun.
And still, it doesn’t have that strong sound of D that some speakers have.
Not that it’s a big deal cuz you’re still gonna be clear, okay.
Also, you need to remember that when you practice sounds, you need to focus on your highest priorities.
So if your th sounds like a T or D everyone will probably understand you.
if you want to improve and if you want it to be a non-issue then definitely work on improving that, okay?
Let’s my few more words:
Now I want you to remember that when it comes to the th it might be easier in words but then in sentences or phrases it gets a little more challenging because you need to work quickly between the two sounds.
So, for example, to say something like “the” may be easy but then to say “the-sun” might be more challenging.
Or “the theater”: two th’s together!
So you always want to anticipate the following sound.
So let’s say you have a sound like an L that has a th right after, like “will they.”
So what you want to do is to anticipate the sound and stick the tongue out before the th.
Same thing with N before th
Right, so you bring the tongue out for the N and then you’re relaxing it into the TH so you don’t have to push the tongue out.
Anticipating the th that will help you with the transition:
So here I brought the tongue up for the T instead of keeping it behind the teeth:
Doesn’t change the sound. Anyway it’s a held T: at
at-relaxing it to a th-the, at-the
and backwards as well: bath-time
So, I want to think about this transition and if it’s difficult, then I want to work on this transition over and over again, okay.
Let’s try another one:
Raise your hand if you want to turn off this video right now!
Right. So here there’s no cheating.
You just have to work quickly.
Now you might be doing something like “iz-at” or “ivat”. That’s totally fine.
Just make sure that you’re not merging the two sounds.
Two different sounds, focus on them:
is – the Z is inside – that, th out.
So you want to transition and really visualize your tongue going from the inside to the outside.
After all your tongue is a muscle, you control it, right.
It’s not like this… I always compare it to a sneaky little brat that is just like running around and you’re like: “Wait just a minute, wait, look, come here come here”.
So that’s your tongue and you need to teach it to listen to you, especially when it comes to the TH transitions.
So what you can do is create those lists of transitions, right.
Every time you come across a tricky transition or just a lot of words with TH’s and repeat them over and over again.
Repetition is the only thing that will help you make it your own and make it spontaneous, okay.
So it’s not enough to listen to this video and to just like try it out a few times.
You’ve got to do it on a daily basis even if it’s just five minutes a day and then it will become a part of you, and then you’ll develop the muscle memory.
You’ll rewire all the connections in your brain, and you won’t go back to the comfortable place which is all the other sounds, okay.
So let’s start a list in the comments below put all the possible transitions or tricky transitions of th and other sounds and we’ll practice together.
I hope this was helpful, THIS was helpful.
Have a beautiful week! Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and comment over to my website
Because I have a lot of great stuff for you over there and free stuff.
So why not come check it out theaccentsway.com
Have a beautiful day, and I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye!
Don’t forget to jump into the conversation in the comments below the video and add as many phrases with TH as possible (and then practice all of them, just like I taught you in the video)