It’s on the Tip of My Tongue: Pronounce TH

“It’s on the Tip of my Tongue” Pronounce TH

There are two English THs – voiced and unvoiced. If these sounds do not occur in your language, they may be difficult for you to produce. Or they may sound childish, silly or just wrong. (These sounds do not appear in Dutch.) Trust your teacher or your audio and practice, practice, practice. Be like a child and enjoy making these fun new mouth-sounds. Keep your facial and throat muscles relaxed. Stand in front of a mirror to be sure that you see a wee bit of the tip of your tongue.

In the beginning, just practice the pure TH sound, being sure you can sustain it like a singer with a long note: Thh, thhh, thhhhhh.

Put your fingers on your throat to feel the difference between the vibrated (voiced) and unvibrated (unvoiced) TH.

Try speaking the voiced TH in: this, these, that and those. Did you feel the vibration?

Now say “thank you.” Put your hand in front of your mouth to feel the “wind” from the unvoiced TH in “thank.” Hold a piece of paper by one corner, with the lower tip of the paper hanging in front of and just level with your mouth. Then speak the unvoiced TH and see the paper blow away from you.

Note that the positions for both THs require the tip of the tongue to rest between the front teeth. The lips are relaxed and slightly open. Do not put your teeth on your lower lip! (that makes an F sound.)

Note that the vibrated version has slightly more tension and blocks most of the air release. When you correctly speak the vibrated TH, you will feel a vibration or tickle on the tip of your tongue. When you speak the unvibrated TH, you should only feel the air passing.

In English, before the words thousand, you must add a number OR an article. Thus, one thousand OR a thousand. Never just thousand! (This is also true for hundred and million. Thus a hundred, one million, a billion, etc.)

Here are some practice lines. Go slowly and be sure that you make good THs and finish words completely and accurately.

TH Voiceless (Unvibrated)
Did he say thank you?
He thanked our wealthy author on Thursday.
I think thin thieves always travel north, not south.
Thistle sticks: sixty six thousand and six thistle sticks.
Thadeus Thorn sifts thistles.
Ouch! He stuck a thousand thistles in his thumb.

TH Voiced (Vibrated)
This, these, that, those, the
Mother, brother, father, feather, weather, whether
Their mother was gathering the feathers together.
They’ve had a lot of bother over the weather.
They’d rather gather those berries with their mother.
There’s their brother, together with their father.
Therefore they’d rather go together.

TH Mixed
They’d rather have a bath with their clothing on.
There’s the wealthy author whose brother has a toothache.
The weather from the north and south on Thursdays is soothing.
Those athletes have nothing other than each other, the weather, and their youth.

THR Consonant Clusters
Our athletes ran three thousand meters.
When you are thirty-three you have not lost your youth.
Thunderstorms can be thrilling.
Those thirty-eight thousand and three thieves were brothers of different mothers and fathers.
Those thrones are from the south. These thrones are southern.
Those thrones are from the north. Those thrones are northern.
He thrust three thrilling threads through the window.

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