Whether or not you’ve practiced your TH many times, or are new to it, it’s not such an easy task! You might feel confident when you say a word like “thought”, but when it comes to a sentence like “that’s the thing I was thinking”, all that TH practice doesn’t seem to help!
In today’s video, you’ll get a tutorial on why the TH is so complicated when there are so many in a sentence, and how to practice the TH so it comes out smoother and easier. You’ll also get helpful tips about when we can cheat with the TH and make our lives easier 😉
Hey everyone, It’s Hadar. Thank you so much for joining me. Today we have an ‘Ask Hadar’ episode, where we will be answering questions from our audience. And today we have Nicky from Argentina. And Nicky has an important question about the TH. Let’s listen.
“Hey, Hadar and the team behind the scenes. I’m Nicky, I’m from Argentina. I’m a huge fan of your channel. I love your content, especially how you challenge native speakerism. So, please keep it up. So my question is, how do you say words or sentences that have many words that have a TH back to back to back. As in the sentence, ‘That’s the thing I was thinking’, or ‘It’s better than I thought’.
There are so many words with TH that when I say these sentences, I get stuck. Or the words feel like they’re not flowing because there are so many hard sounds or so many THs. So I was wondering, is there a way to practice these hard sentences or maybe there’s a shortcut to make it easier to say these words? So yeah, that’s my question. Thank you so much for what you’re doing. You rock.”
No, you rock, Nicky! You rock. I love you and your personality that just shines through the screen. So, I am more than happy to answer this question. I’m sure that a lot of people struggle with the same challenge, especially people who have been practicing their pronunciation and their THs for a while. And then they struggle in real life with such issues where you have a sentence full of THs, like ‘That’s the thing I was thinking the other day’. Right? So, let’s talk about it, and what could be potentially holding you back from pronouncing it effortlessly.
So first of all, I want you to examine your TH. Because a lot of times the way we pronounce the TH might be in the most efficient way. And sometimes we might invest more energy, and then it gets in the way when we have a lot of THs in the sentence. So the thing is that you wanna remember that the tongue has to be very soft. Because when it’s tight and pressed against the upper teeth, it might work for a singular word, like ‘think’, but when you have a lot of words – think the thought, then it might get in the way and make it harder.
Also, if you stick the tongue out too much, which from the video it does not seem like it, but for everyone else watching, if the tongue sticks out too much – maybe you’ve gotten into the habit of sticking the tongue out – then it also might be challenging for you. Because ‘That’s the thing I was thinking’ – there is like a lot of work, and you have to push your tongue really forward to get to the TH sound. And that is going to definitely get in your way when there are a lot of THs.
So, the quality of pronunciation: stick the tongue out just a bit, and most importantly, make sure that the tongue is not very tense, it’s loose, and there is space between the tongue and upper teeth for the air to come out. It has to be very soft. ‘That’s the thing I was thinking’.
Also, when it comes to sentences, it’s not that the TH is the problem, it’s the transition between the TH and other sounds. Especially when the TH is before or after ‘tip of the tongue’ consonants, and that is: T, D, N, L, S, Z. When these consonants appear before or after the TH, it’s going to be a bit more challenging. Actually, I have a video just about that, that I’m going to link below so you can learn and practice with the video.
But really quickly: when you transition between the TH and the S, for example, as in ‘that’s the’, what is going to happen is that the tongue is going to want to stay inside, if TH does not exist in your language. And then you might say something like, ‘that’s de’, ‘that’s de’, and the T might turn into a D. So you wanna practice just the transition– S-TH in this case. And you wanna do it enough times and then do it enough times quickly until this is no longer a challenge.
Then you want to put it in context within the words. That’s the. That’s the, that’s the, that’s the, that’s the, that’s the, that’s the, that’s the, that’s the, that’s the. All right? So from the transition of the sounds to the words, and then to the entire sentence: that’s the thing. Maybe not the full sentence, step by step. ‘That’s the thing’. ‘That’s the thing’. ‘That’s the thing’.
Now, after practicing it for so many times, it’s gonna be a little easier at this point. ‘That’s the thing I was thinking’. ‘That’s the thing I was thinking’. And then maybe you feel like you get stuck at the end again: ‘was thinking’, ‘was thinking’. Again, Z-TH. So, all over again. Right? And then: was thinking, was thinking, was thinking, was thinking, was thinking. ‘That’s the thing I was thinking’.
And another quick tip, if you do have a transition from an S or Z to a TH: hold the sound, the previous sound, a little longer – ‘that’s the thing’, preparing mentally to stick the tongue out for the TH. And keep everything really, really soft. ‘That’s the thing I was thinking’. ‘That’s the thing I was thinking’.
Or let’s take the other sentence, for example: ‘it’s better than I thought’. Here we have an R-TH. Better than, better than, better than, better than I thought. ‘It’s better than I thought’. Slow down on those THs until you teach your tongue to get to the right place, and then start going a little faster gradually. Really treat it like a tongue twister, honestly. ‘It’s better than I thought’. ‘It’s better than I thought’. Soft. Okay?
Now, one more thing I wanna tell you is that when it comes to function words with TH, like: the, this, that, those, these – then you also wanna take into consideration that it’s okay not to stick the tongue out fully, right? ‘That’s the thing’. Right? If you vibrate the tongue on the back of the teeth – ‘the thing’ – it is also okay, you don’t have to stick the tongue out fully. Even if it sounds like what we call a dental D, which is like a D on the teeth, it’s totally okay for these function words with TH.
For example: ‘Is that yours?’ ‘Is that’, that, that. Right? I’m not fully pronouncing the TH. It’s not ‘Is THat yours?’ Is that, is that. So it’s a shortcut, a small shortcut that you can take to make it easier and to simplify it. ‘That’s the thing I was thinking’. ‘That’s the thing I was thinking’. I’m just keeping the tongue really close, but still on the teeth so that it’s easier, smoother, and I’m able to move the tongue quickly between the consonants.
All right, that’s it. If you have any other tips on how to improve sentences with TH, I’m inviting all of you to share that in the comments below. Nicky, my dear. I hope this was helpful. You can practice it with me. It sounds like you are already on the right track, and I have no doubt that you, my friend, are going to conquer it. That’s the thing I am thinking.
Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day. If you also want to ask me questions on video and have me answer them here on my channel and on social media, then click the link below and go into the ‘Ask Hadar’ page and send me your question. Thank you so much. I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.
Before you go, let me know in the comments, how do you feel about your TH in sentences like these? When is it the hardest for you to pronounce TH?